Mumbai, May 16: Three entrances but just one guard at the main gate — that’s all the security at the MLA hostel at Nariman Point.
This explains how the three alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba militants, arrested near Aurangabad last week with a huge cache of arms and ammunition, found their way into the building and spent four hours there. It is one of the four MLA hostels in Mumbai, and just minutes away from Mantralaya.
Investigations reveal that Mohammed Aamir Shakeel, Sayyad Zubair and Mohammad Muzaffar Jameel stayed at the MLA hostel for nearly four hours on May 9, the day they were arrested with 10 AK-47 rifles, 30 kg RDX, 40 magazines and 2,000 live cartridges stored in CPUs.
This brings back memories of Sheikh Muzammil, an accused in the Ghatkopar blasts case, who had stayed at the MLA hostel in December 2002 along with friend Amjad — former MLC Abdul Sattar’s nephew.
Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials say the terrorists, travelling in a Tata Sumo, entered the hostel around midnight and left at 4 am on Tuesday.
The trio allegedly spent the night in an MLA’s room while the driver slept in the car with the arms consignment. The car was reportedly parked outside the hostel gate.
ATS officials, however, are yet to confirm which room the culprits stayed in that night. The accused allegedly stayed in a room booked in the name of an MLA from South Mumbai, who is yet to be questioned.
Even the visitors’ register at the hostel shows no entry for the late-night visitors. The last visitor on May 8, according to the register, entered at 6.45 pm, while the first visitor on May 9 arrived at 7 am.
Though Umesh Patankar, who runs a newspaper stall in the hostel premises, claims the register has entries of all visitors, security guard UN Pandey tells a different story.
“We try to ensure that visitors enter their details, but one guard is not enough to keep an eye on all the visitors. We can’t tackle 15 people at the same time,” explains Pandey. But strangely, the guard on duty did not notice the three terrorists walking into the hostel even at midnight.
According to the rulebook, a guest can stay at the MLA hostel only after he has produced a letter of reference from the councillor in question.