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After Kasab, what about the rest?

November 21, 2012 13:04 IST

The hanging shifts focus to bringing the 26/11 masterminds to justice. Vicky Nanjappa reports

It is well known that Ajmal Kasab was a remote-controlled foot soldier — a product created by the likes of Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, and Abu Jundal.

India now has an almost similar process to follow with Jundal, who was part of the core team that carried out the attack. The chargesheet against him has just been filed and the trial is expected to commence shortly.

However, bringing Jundal to justice is not India's greatest worry at the moment. There is ample evidence against him and sooner or later he too will be punished.

Kasab's hanging now leaves us with questions about his mentors and the 26/11 masterminds who are still facing trial in Pakistan.

Pakistan has been making noises about conducting a free and fair trial. Recently, some inspectors even admitted that their soil was used to train for the 26/11 attack.

But Indian agencies studying the trial in Pakistan say it appears to be a complete eye wash. They say they are not expecting that the likes of Saeed and Lakhvi will ever be brought to justice since the system there is protecting them.

Officers, on condition of anonymity, say there may be some convictions down the line, but the top rung will escape, because convicting them will mean opening Pandora's Box regarding the establishment's involvement in the attack.

They allege that Saeed, in particular, has a lot of information about the establishment's role, and the ISI will never allow that to become public. They believe Pakistan will resort to a pro-longed trial until the public forgets about it.

Making their case, they point to how Saeed still makes statements against India and funds continue to be collected in the open for terrorism. Saeed and his men have floated the Falah-e-Insaniyat, under which the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa continues to operate, for this purpose.

The Indian officers also point to the likes of Sajid Mir — the international operative without him such an attack could not have been planned and carried out and who continues to remain untouched — and say that had it not been for the likes of Saeed, Lakhvi and Mir there would not have been a Kasab at all.

They add that their conviction though entirely depends on Pakistan and no amount of international pressure can change the Pakistani mind.

Meanwhile, another part of bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 attacks is playing out in the United States. Indian officers fear that the case against David Headley, a key planner of the attacks, may be shut and he could serve out a life sentence thanks to his plea bargain.

The trial against Tahawwur Rana, the Chicago-based Pakistani Canadian who was convicted for providing material support to the LeT, still hangs in the balance.

The US has also filed cases against some majors from Pakistan and Sajid Mir, but only a ceremonial sentence can be handed out to these persons, since Pakistan continues to deny their existence.

At the moment, the officers say, Indian agencies hope for the hanging of the likes of Saeed and Lakhvi and more clarity on Mir.

Vicky Nanjappa