The Rediff Interview/ Bombay's Joint Commissioner of Police D Sivanandan
Soon after Union Home Minister L K Advani accused Pakistan of being involved in the hijacking of IC 814, the Bombay police launched a massive crackdown and arrested six city-based accomplices of the hijackers, including a travel agent. It was these arrests from Jogeshwari, northwest Bombay, along with the seizure of a large cache of arms and ammunitions, including AK-56 guns, rocket launchers and RDX, that put the police on the trail of the hijackers's network in the city.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) D Sivanandan speaks to
A Ganesh Nadar about the arrests and denies the charge that the breakthrough came when America's Central Intelligence Agency intercepted a message from the hijackers in Kandahar to Abdul Latif Momin in Bombay.
Is it possible to go through the First Information Reports of the men from Jogeshwari who were arrested for being in cahoots with the hijackers of Flight 814?
It is a court matter. It is a public document. You can go and look at it.
Now that a year has gone by, could you tell us who gave you the clues about their whereabouts?
Certainly not. That is a secret. I cannot reveal our sources to the press. It is not for public consumption.
Which authority arrested them?
The Bombay police arrested them. We do not need anyone's authority.
Where are they now?
The case is with the CBI, you can ask them.
We arrested them and produced them in court. The CBI, which is investigating the hijacking, needed them. They produced a warrant for them and we handed them over. They are following it up.
How was the Bombay police unaware of such a big plot?
We were the only ones aware of their presence in Jogeshwari. How can you say such a thing?
Didn't the Americans provide you with this breakthrough?
I don't agree with you. This is utter nonsense -- that the Americans knew what is happening in Bombay! Did the Americans know Jogeshwari? It is only the Indian mentality which says that the Americans knew about this and then told us. This is utter, unadulterated nonsense.
Why do you think they selected Bombay for getting their passports made?
They chose Bombay because it is a very crowded place. Why has Chotta Rajan chosen Mannargudi in Tamil Nadu? Why? You tell me?
Because that's a small place.
And this is a big place.
How do you keep track of people coming into Bombay and renting houses here?
It is very difficult in a population of one-and-a-half crores -- including the population of Thane and Navi Mumbai. How can anybody know who is entering the city? Nobody can know that.
But, in Russia, they keep track of the people.
Russia and India are two different countries.
In October, you arrested some people belonging to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba group in the city. Is Bombay becoming a haven for terrorists?
The Thane police made that arrest. Bombay is not becoming a haven for terrorists. There is a certain anonymity here because of the size of the city. So it is a anonymous place, not a haven. This should not be exaggerated and a fear psychosis should not be created. All this intelligence is gathered by the police. We have gathered the information and made the arrests. The press or anybody else has not told us about their presence. We have done our homework.
What about the low intensity warfare being conducted by the ISI in the city?
It is true. There is a war in Kashmir and in various other places. Last year, we arrested so many people. They all had bombs and TNT. The weapons we seized from Jogeshwari had all been made in Pakistan.
Travel agents are helping terrorists. How do you prevent or prove this?
Travel agents will help anybody who pays money. It is the same phenomena all over the country. The passport department should devise a system to control this. Police verification should be done properly.
Could someone obtain two passports in different names with the same photograph within two days?
We do not have any system to match photographs.
But there are computers that can match fingerprints.
At no stage in a passport office are photographs matched. Fingerprints are not necessary for a passport. We take fingerprints only when we make an arrest.
Did you go to Bangkok to arrest Chotta Rajan?
I did not go there.
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda
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