Five years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the sea route that Kasab and nine other terrorists took to Mumbai still remains vulnerable.

A major concern centres around the lack of documentation and identity checks on fishing trawlers like the Kuber which was used by the terrorists to travel to Mumbai’s shores.

Expressing concern, the Indian Coastguard has written a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture asking it to intervene.

The agency wants the Fisheries Department to have clear rules spelt out while issuing identity cards to the fishermen along the coastline.

Sources in the agency have told The Hindu that over 100 raids were conducted recently on fishing trawlers near Mumbai. But they did not find original registration documents on any of the boats.

“In several cases, we found that the photo-copy of one document was used for several boats,” said a senior Coastguard official. The official claims that most trawlers are staffed with illegal Bangladeshi or Nepalese migrants as labourers. Since they do not have identification documents, it becomes difficult to monitor them, the official adds.

While over 2000 identity cards have been issued by the Department in the past few years, it has not kept pace with the rise in fishing activities. “We have been pushing for a state-wide demarcation of trawlers which will help us know the distance and locations through which the trawler has travelled but there has been no response to our request from the Fisheries Department,” the official added. The Coastguard routinely detains fishermen who do not have valid documents. But since it has no powers to arrest, it hands them over to the police. “The local police is understaffed. Usually, after conducting a preliminary inquiry, they release the detainees. ”

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