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.
With almost the entire machinery on guard for a week around Matoshree, the residence of Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray, and on Sunday around Shivaji Park for his funeral, new resources were pulled to ferry Kasab on Monday night. The control room of Mumbai police was not an active participant, and a separate channel of officers communicated the movements with the senior hierarchy.
While the plan was in place months in advance, the office of the DGP intimated the final time hours before the convoy was to leave Arthur Road. Local police were not informed about their role, but the barricades on the roads were removed to ensure the convoy is not stopped. Wireless also did not give any update on movement of the vehicles and no decoys were used.