Minutest detail kept under wraps
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Four years ago, the whole nation saw images of the lone 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks perpetrator captured alive who was then 21 years old, in black T-shirt, a backpack strapped on and carrying an AK-47 splashed across TV channels and newspapers. In sharp contrast, days before the fourth anniversary of the attacks, Ajmal Kasab's shifting to Pune, hanging and burial at Yerawada jail went unnoticed, until it was announced.
The meticulously planned operation was kept under wraps, and several contingencies were kept in mind to ensure the road trip was smooth. According to Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil, there were obvious security concerns that forced a high level of secrecy. "We also did not want any hindrance in the actual operation," he said.
He said officials worked in tandem. They included the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), jail and home department officials. "They agreed to maintain silence and secrecy," said Patil. Hence, while files moved in confidential hands, a special messenger sent the nod from President of India. "It was actually decided in September, but no one followed it very closely. We ensured people didn't speak about it," said Patil.
While Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) had a role at Arthur Road Jail, the final escort was the Mumbai police with reserves on standby. No operational details were given to any lower ranks.
Home department officials said select officers were kept informed about the developments and given only information they needed to know. The local police staff were not told about the operation.
The main escort was Crime Branch officials with Mumbai police, with Sadanand Date, Joint Commissioner of Police (law and order) coordinating the exercise along with senior officers of the Mumbai Crime Branch and Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria. The two agencies were involved as "more than a capital punishment convict, it was a Pakistani terrorist being ferried inside the state," said a home department official.