Police, media and officials could have saved India from 26/11 attack – photo journalist

3:00 PM, Saturday, August 8th, 2015
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terror suspected boat in Mangalore

Mangaluru : National media erred, bureaucracy turned a blind eye to Mangalore fisherman’s information in Nov’2008. Police and government officials who were informed remained defiant and chose to turn a blind eye. Since officials failed to act, Mangalore fisherman informed two reporters successively twice, and expressed, his apprehension of possible danger to country, but, they deliberately remained ignorant and failed to act and make a story and wake up the country. Nine days later, country witnessed, terrorists attack in Mumbai in November 2008, and news reports state they entered by boat, and 166 persons lost their life in 26/11 attack, and if story made in time, could have alerted, averted or prevented the attack.

India suffered 26/11 attack not only because of terrorists who came from across the border from Pakistan but also because, two reporters from a national English daily published from Mangalore, failed to do a story based on fisherman’s information and warning to them. The warning came twice in nine days, which was sufficient time to alert the security agencies or police to plunge into action, which the scribes failed to. Before the scribes were informed, the fisherman had stated to have informed, the then Coastal Police inspector in Mangalore, and IG’s office, Western range. Since they did not respond, Old Port officer in Bunder and the Deputy Director Fisheries in Mangalore was also informed and they also failed to act in time. An alert fisherman in Mangalore, after having observed, boats with no proper markings were moving in an around, Mangalore fishing harbour, at Bunder informed reporters, Government and Police officials who remained ignorant, and threw the information of the fishermen to winds. They failed to do their duty, first as citizens and then as responsible officials. What was strange, is, why did the Journalists from the national English daily, who were informed twice by the fisherman in nine days , failed to carry a story.

Four were arrested in Mangalore on 3rd October 2008 as terror suspects and busted a support cell of Indian Mujahideen. Among whom were Naushad (25) from Subash Nagar, Pandeshwar, a construction worker; Ahmed Bava, Ahmed Bava (33) from Haleyangadi, Mulky, a petty shop owner and both are being produced to court in Mangalore even till date. Fakeer and Rafique Bava were arrested in Mangalore between 14th to 16th October 2008. Ahmed Bava after arrest, in a police crackdown on the network, following the Batla House encounter in New Delhi, told interrogators that Riyaz Bhatkal, co-founder of the IM, and his brother Iqbal had made efforts to buy a fishing boat at Malpe near Mangalore on September 18 in 2008, a day before the Batla House encounter occurred. According to Bava’s account, the Bhatkal brothers quizzed a boat owner on a wide range of capabilities of a boat and negotiated a price in the range of Rs 20 lakh for it. They told Bava that the boat would be used for smuggling gold. According to police sources, who have questioned the boat owner, the prospective buyers never returned to close the deal of which news reports have appeared in all National English daily. Three months ago Ahmed Bava of Haleyangady and Mohammed Noushad of Subhash Nagar were brought from Mumbai produced to court in Mangalore on 19th March 2015 and Mohammed Bava Aboobacker, Sayyed Mohammed Naushad, and Shabber Bhatkal, terror suspects were produced to court in Mangalore on 7th August 2015.

On 17th November, 2008, “I as photojournalist, from a trusted, National Englsih daily newspaper, was on an assignment, to Bunder fishing harbour in Mangalore, to cover a workshop held for fishermen, The workshop was to create awareness to keep, the fishing harbour clean and hygienic, since European Union Health officer’s were scheduled to visit, the Bunder fishing harbour in Mangalore and decide, whether to buy fish from that fishing harbour. Just after the workshop, at around 10.45am, a fisherman approached me, and stated that he has observed some unauthorised unidentified boats which where on the move in the waters of Mangalore Fishing harbour at Bunder. Identifying these boats, to me, the fisherman asked me to capture pictures of them. After,capturing them he explained to me, that they were unauthorised boats and person on it are strangers. These boats had no proper registration number or name or any license number mentioned on it, said the fisherman.

Taking me to an eatery in Matsyagandha building, within the fishing harbour.he explained, that these boats with high speed motors had no fishing nets on it and normally boats with high speed motors are not used for fishing. The fisherman also stated that he saw to his surprise, that these boats were anchored behind the Old Port office in Bunder, Mangalore after the office hours and in the late evening, behind the Old Port and gunny bags were loaded on to it. The fisherman stated, that on seeing such activity, he rang up several times and informed the then Coastal Police inspector, Mukund Naik, asking him to come and check the boat but did not turn up. The fisherman said that he went on to inform the IG’s office about this activity and to the then Old Port Officer and Deputy Director, Fisheries, Mangalore who has an office in Bunder fishing harbour itself.

Since no action was forth coming, fisherman, had an apprehension of a possible danger to our country, told me that he was like the hound dog of the Mangalore fishing harbour. After observing the suspicious activites in the fishing harbour. He also stated, that, I have to trust him, and he that is a patriot and so this concern to bring this information to me. After I was convinced of the fisherman’s version it reminded me of a story in some media about terrorist plan to enter the country through water, I took the fisherman’s story seriously.

 

terror suspected boat in Mangalore

Sitting in the same eatery along with the fisherman, I called Samvartha reporter from the newspaper I worked , on his mobile and explained to him about the fisherman’s story to me and his apprehension, about a possible danger to the internal security of the our country. Samvartha, had joined the newspaper, just three days ago and was assigned to cover, the awareness workshop, that morning in the fishing harbour. After the workshop he had left the fishing harbour, and had to return on hearing the fisherman’s story from me. Samvartha, who came and joined me and the fisherman at the eatery was appraised by the fisherman of the facts that he stated to me. I had mentioned to Samvartha, that I have captured the pictures, of the unauthorised boats identified by fisherman.

On the same day I went to the office, later in the afternoon, to download the pictures, of the unauthorised boats into my computer. Samvartha, reporter, came out of City Editor/Special Correspondent Govind Belgaumker’s office to tell me, that he had discussed the story, with Govind, and that he has asked Samvartha to scrap the story narrated by fisherman as an unfound fear of the fisherman. Samvartha also told me, that there is no point in even loading the pictures of the boats and sending it to Chennai.

On November 21st 2008 Govind Belgaumker, the City editor of The National English daily, at Mangalore, had himself came to Bunder fishing harbour at around 10 am. He had come to cover the scheduled visit of European health officials, inspection of the Bunder fishing harbour. When the same fisherman, by name Naveen Bangera who was in the fishing harbour, came and approached me. He wanted to find out, on which of the days between 17th November 2008 and 21st November 2008, the news of the story narrated by him earlier on 17th November 2008, was carried in the newspaper. I had told the fisherman, that reporter Samvartha who had earlier heard the him, and city editor/special correspondent, Govind belgaumker, had decided to scrap the story, as an unfound fear of the fisherman. Expressing mental agony, the fisherman asked me, whether he can meet my city editor/special correspondent Govind Belgaumker and since he was had come to the fishing harbour, I, introduced the fisherman, to Govind Belguamker,. Once again the fisherman took Govind Belgaumker and me, to same eatery in the fishing harbour, where we sat there, and he explained the entire facts as stated to me on 17th Novermber Fisherman further added, that he is a patriot and wanted Govind to treat him like one, and take it seriously as his strong apprehension of a possible danger to our country was unfolding, after having observed, such activity of unauthorised boats anchoring behind old port office and loading goods, which were never witnessed before.

But from 21st November to 24th November, 2008 Govind Belgaumker was buying my confidence and time, stating that he will speak to the coastal police inspector, IG Western range, Old port officer, and Deputy director fisheries and then do a story. Govind also made, a specific request to me, not to send the picture of the boats, to system before the story was sent. NICA is a system into which all the pictures are uploaded.. Govind had also made a specific request, that the date of the picture captured of the boat should not be mentioned in the caption of the picture. This was because, Govind was doing a story, days after he heard the fisherman and also knows, that the fisherman has informed us on 17th November 2008 also. Knowing that I am going on leave, on 24th November 2008,and will be on leave from 25th till 29th November 2008, Govind came to my seat and request me to keep the pictures of the boats with caption and leave it in a folder on the desktop of my computer, which I did. Govind said after completing the story, he would send the pictures, along with it in a day or two and I left that night for Bangalore

terror suspected boat in Mangalore

On 26th November 2008, I was going through the days newspaper sitting at home in Bangalore, and was watching Times Now channel on TV. To my shock I saw a flash news, of the terrorist having entered, Mumbai by sea, using boat and they have stuck at different locations in Mumbai and have killed many. By then coverage of attack had taken place at Leopold café was also being telecast. Immediately I called up Govind in Mangalore both on office land line and on his mobile and drew his attention to the TV news telecast of Mumbai attack by terrorist. I asked Govind, whether he had made a story of the fisherman, and sent it along with my picture of the boat. and whether the story was published in the last two days.

To my shock, Govind Belgaumker, told me that he has not done a story, and that he would try to do one on that same day the 26th November 2008. I asked him whether, his story would state that a fisherman has informed on 17th November, 2008, which he had decided to scrap the story, as unfound fear of fisherman and the fisherman once again informed on 21st November 2008. Govind tells me not to interfere in his work, and as a City Editor and he will take a call on it, what ever may be the nature of the story.. Govind asked me to, enjoy my leave and not worry about the fisherman story. I asked him that, when my country was attacked and was burning, how he wants me to enjoy, he disconnected the call. It was then, that I had brought it to the knowledge of my photo Editor D.Krishnan in Chennai , over phone and sent an email to him with the photo’s of the unauthorised boats with the story told by the fisherman. Being a photographer, I am supposed to report to the Photo Editor, but the photo Editor, did not intiate any immediate action, nor bring the matter to the knowledge of the Editor in Chief about the email sent to him.

I had also made a written complaint to Parvathy Menon, the then Karnataka Bureau chief in Bangalore of the national English daily, under whom, I, Govind and Samvartha work. She is now posted to London as correspondent. Parvathy Menon, came to Mangalore on few occasion, after the complaint of missing the fisherman’s story, before the 26/11 attack. Though she collected the entire papers from me, did not question Govind about missing the fisherman story. Govind Belgaumker, got to know that I have made a complaint in writing to the Photo Editor and to Parvathy Menon and started harassing me in many ways and wanted to some how replace me, with some one of his choice in Mangalore. Even regarding this, I have sent detailed email to Photo Editor. D.Krishnan and gave a detail written complaint to Parvathy Menon. In the month of October 2014, on the eve of my retirement, I went to Chennai, and sought an appointment, with CEO,Mr. Rajiv Lochan, of the newspaper and Editor in chief, Mr. N.Ravi, with a view to narrate, my mental agony after the fisherman’s story was missed by Govind and seen the telecast of the 26/11 attack. Having failed to get an appointment, I sent emails to them, in which I have stated, how Govind had failed to carry a story of the fisherman’s information twice in nine days after which 26/11 attack took place. But till date, I have not got a reply from them.

Aggerieved by the inaction of the management of the newspaper,, and feeling free to decide on the course of action, after, my retirement in October 2014, I filed a petition before the High Legal services of Karnataka on 7.1.2015, seeking legal aid, to file a writ Petition or a Public Interest Litigation. This was to seek a direction from the high court, to NIA or CBI to investigate two reporters, Police and government officials as per the information provided by the fisherman which was mentioned in my petition. As per the phone call to me by the member Secretary, High Court Legal services, decided that it can go as a PIL and decided to transfer my petition to KSLSA who will take a call on PIL. I had met the Member Secretary, Karnataka State legal services Authority, in person at Bangalore and also explained why my Petition for Writ Petition or PIL. Usually a petition before the High court legal services, takes only a few days for them to refer it to an advocate on its panel seeking, legal opinion, but in my case, KSLSA member Secretary, took two and half months to get the same opinion. The member secretary, in this case has thought, advocate’s legal opinion it not necessary, to be sent to me, and himself has written a letter, that he is of the opinion, that the petition I have filed is a post retirement activity and there is no valid reason in it, to file a PIL. My file is yet to be returned with the copy of the legal opinion given on my petition.

Aggrieved, further, I had sent an email complaint to National Legal services Authority on the indifferent attitude of the member secretary, of Karnataka State legal services Authority on an important petition seek legal aid. NALSA have written a letter to me dated June 1st 2015 , that they have asked member secretary of KSLSA to act on my petition and report on the action taken by him. But till date the member secretary has been was inaccessible, when contacted on phone and my request to return my file has also fallen on deaf ears.

In this regard, I sent an email to the Union law and justice minister for his intervention and direction in helping me to file a writ Petition or PIL. Failing to get a reply, I sent a another, email, to him requesting him to bring it to the knowledge of the Union Home minister and contact him over him mobile. Though his office states that they have forwarded my compliant to the union Home minister.I have not got any reply till now. The Union Law and justice minister advised me to contact the local MP and take his help. I and the fisherman met the Dakshina kannada, MP Nalin Kumar Kateel on 10.5.2015 in Circuit house, Mangalore and gave him a petition will all other relevant papers. MP said that he would be meeting Union Home minister in the Parliament and promised give the petition to him but saw no action. Further, I have sent emails to the Union Home Minister himself, and to the Union Home Secretary L.C.Goyal and have made several phone calls drawing their attention to them but, I have not heard even a whisper from his office, . This ignorance, of the Union Home Ministry, has caused, worry and unexplainable mental agony to me, because his office cannot remain ignorant, when a complaint relating to activity prior to 26/11 that may have relativity was brought to their notice by way of a complaint and seeking proper action.

I had earlier on two occasion also sent message to Prime Minister on the write to PM site, and also email to the National Investigation Agency to investigate into my petition. But all this fell on deaf ears and was turned a blind eye to it. I requested, the Union Home ministry that after initiating action for initial investigation, and on getting convinced, a serious and detailed investigation should be done. What could have been avoided and averted, if only alerted, by the Police and Government officials by showing urgency and in a proper manner. The two reporters, who should have done a story, after hearing the fisherman, also failed to act showing urgency, as responsible citizen, who are duty bound to the country and then as a journalists. They also did not allow, me to act by sending the pictures to Chennai, by gaining my confidence, that they would do a story after initially rejecting the same story as unfound fear of the fisherman. The Police and Government officials, who were informed by the fisherman did not act in time and in a proper manner as was expected of them. This made the fisherman narrate the story, by approaching me, as a photographer of a responsible National English daily,and in turn the two reporters were informed. But they failed to act by doing a story, expected of them that would have alerted the concerned officials of the internal security of the country. The two reporters, who instead of showing a sense of urgency and doing a story, which could have alerted the country and also could have exposed, the apathy of the Police and Government officials, whom the fisherman had informed, but together, they remained ignorant, The two reporters, Police and Government officials who were informed by the fisherman had enough time to act in a proper and respective manner, that would have definitely alerted the concerned security agency, to avert or prevent, any danger to the country.. Thereafter, on 26th November, 2008, within two weeks the country witnessed 26/11 attack in which 166 persons were killed. And our country is doing all that is possible to bring the perpetrators to books, but we continue to hear Pakistan trained terrorist striking a regular intervals at different places.

Hence it is time that our country should know, that the two reporters, are solely responsible for not doing their duty and also the two police and government officials for having allowed,, the country to suffer. Hence the Union home ministry should direct the NIA or CBI to directed to investigate, submit report and take proper action against anybody who is found guilty of dereliction of duty as a citizen of this country. When the Joint Secretary, M.A.Ganapathy, Internal security Ministry for Home Affairs also to whom a complaint was made was contacted over phone two days ago, said that my complaint is referred to the concerned agency and is to be waited and seen as to what action will be taken. (eom)

 Lens & Story Eswarrraj  

terror suspected boat in Mangalore

 

terror suspected boat in Mangalore

 

terror suspected boat in Mangalore

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