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26/11, four years on: The unfinished tasks

Last updated on: November 26, 2012 10:36 IST

As India observes the fourth anniversary of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, there are many unfinished tasks to which attention needs to be drawn, points out B Raman, India's leading expert on counter-terrorism.

  • The Pakistan government is yet to complete the prosecution and trial of the seven masterminds of the terror strikes. They have been arrested, but the trial against them before an anti-terrorism tribunal in Rawalpindi is being repeatedly adjourned under some pretext or the other, thereby making a mockery of the trial.
  • Pakistan has not taken any action against officers of its Inter-Services Intelligence, who helped the Lashkar-e-Tayiba carry out the strikes. We find ourselves without any diplomatic or covert action options to force the Pakistani State to act against them. This dramatically illustrates our powerlessness in the face of the continued sponsorship of terrorism by Pakistan against Indian citizens on Indian territory.
  • Mohammad Sayeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and its political wing, the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, continues to be a free man. Pakistan has repeatedly rejected all the evidence produced by New Delhi against him.
  • The Lashkar's anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan continues to function unimpaired. Pakistan is not prepared to act against it. By our continued reluctance to revive our covert action capability, we have denied ourselves the means of acting against it covertly and effectively.
  • We have not yet been able to reconstruct the conspiracy in our territory completely. We have not been able to identify the Indians who might have acted as the Lashkar's accomplices in the planning and execution of the strikes and arrest them. We have not been able to interrogate thoroughly David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana of the Lashkar's Chicago cell and establish the identities of their contacts in India who helped them in the collection of operational intelligence for being passed on to the Lashkar in Pakistan.It is inconceivable that Headley, who repeatedly visited India at the instance of the Lashkar and the ISI, had no contacts in India on whose help he relied. The sleeper cells in the India, which helped Headley and Rana, remain unidentified and un-neutralised.
  • We have not yet been able to establish how Headley and Rana repeatedly evaded detection by Indian intelligence and immigration during their visits to India before the strikes.
  • The quality of our investigation has not improved despite our setting up the National investigation Agency after the strikes. This would be evident from the poorly-detected cases that have taken place after 26/11.
  • The exercise to set up a National Counter-terrorism Centre has got stuck up without any forward movement due to political mishandling by the Indian government.
  • We have failed to mobilise and persuade the relatives of the foreigners killed to act legally against the ISI in the courts of their countries.
  • We have failed to take follow-up action against television channels and journalists on whom strictures were passed by the Supreme Court while confirming the death sentence on Ajmal Kasab. These strictures related to their irresponsible live coverage of the strikes, which complicated the tasks of the security forces. The channels and the journalists have succeeded in creating a wall of silence around their sins of commission and omission. It is as if the television journalists are a law unto themselves and not subject to any scrutiny or even public debate on the judicial strictures.
  • Unless these tasks are completed, we can never talk of closure in respect of the terrorist strikes.

    Will the closure ever come? I have my doubts unless the voters decide to teach all concerned a lesson during the elections and continue to keep the spotlight on the irresponsible and unprofessional coverage by journalists.

    B Raman