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26/11 probe: Jundal not providing new info

July 04, 2012 14:29 IST

Interrogation of terror accused Abu Jundal has so far revealed no new information that is not already in the public domain. The mystery surrounding several aspects of the Mumbai attack remain, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

Investigations into the biggest terrorist attack on Indian soil -- Mumbai 26/11 -- have been nothing short of shoddy, hurried and based on the confessional statement of the lone surviving terrorist, Ajmal Kasab.

Now with terror accused Abu Jundal in custody, it would do investigating agencies some good to get answers to questions that have intentionally been left a mystery due to the lazy investigations.

Jundal has revealed a lot, the police say. He has named key planners, revealed the role played by the Inter-Services Intelligence and Lashkar-e-Tayiba leader Hafiz Saeed.

But what is new in these revelations? Isn't all of this already in the public domain?

Some experts and a few police officers feel that the focus was about nailing Pakistan's lie. While this is of paramount importance, what we must understand is that Pakistan is not going to admit its role. While the Indian agencies should continue to dish out more proof of Pakistan's role in the attack, it is equally important to find out the truth behind the 26/11 attack.

When comparing the profiles of Ajmal Kasab and Jundal, it is obvious that the latter is a more significant person in the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. Unlike Jundal, Kasab has very limited information with regard to the final stages of the attack. Jundal on the other hand was part of the core team that was involved right from planning the attack to its execution. Also, he was the one who had access to the control room that was guarded by the Pakistani establishment. Hence he could be in a better position to explain the entire episode better.

There has been a lurking doubt over the number of Indians involved in the attack. Earlier, the police maintained that only Sabahuddin and Fahim Ansari were Indians who aided in carrying out the attack, but after their acquittal investigators were never able to find any Indian link.

Now, Pakistan too has made a claim that there were at least 40 Indians involved in the attack. While this claim is very farfetched, India would still need to find out if Jundal had roped in Indians for the attack.

Jundal is a smart operative who will continue to feed the Indian agencies with information they already have. He is a trained operative who will harp on the same points in various different ways as the Indian investigators interrogate him.

The other big question that remains unanswered is the number of people actually present on the day of the attack.

Initial reports that came out hours after the attack was that there were more than ten men. However, the police, since day one, have maintained that there were not more than ten men.  

Jundal during his interrogation stated that there were more than ten men who were roped in for the attack, but a couple of them dropped out. Kasab on the other hand had initially said that 30 men were roped in for the attack but only 16 were chosen to carry out the attack. The last minute addition of Abu Islamil, who was Kasab's buddy pair during the attack, raises some questions.

Kasab had said that the buddy pairs were chosen on the basis of the proximity between the two persons so that they would coordinate better during the attack. However, during the earlier part of the investigation it was found that Ismail had met Kasab only two months before the attack. This sort of negates the claim made by Kasab that they were close to each other and had known each other for a long period of time. The other issue that raised a doubt was the count of blankets that the police had put out during the initial part of the investigation. It showed that there were 16 blankets that were carried.

The other angle that was never probed was the presence of a lady during the attack at Cama hospital. Immediately after the attack a lady at the hospital told the police that there was a lady along with the terrorists who shot at her. The other claim is by a taxi driver who had said that there were two men in his taxi that night who were conversing in Pashtun. Now these two men never appeared on the scene during the investigation and the angle was not probed by the police.

A day after the attack the Anti Terrorism Squad had claimed that it had found IEDs at the Victorial terminus and looking at the kind of quantity that they were talking about it was impossible that only ten men could have carried so much ammunition on them and later run around the city firing with a 25 kg machine gun.

It would have been expecting too much out of Kasab to give all the information on such a big attack. It is common knowledge that these terrorist groups work on a need to know basis. The ideologies behind the attack and also the involvement of state players is not something Kasab would have been well aware of since he was a criminal to begin with.

During the earlier days of the probe Kasab had even told the police that if they gave him money he would launch a similar attack on Pakistan as well, which goes on to show his mindset.

Jundal on the other hand is an ideological terrorist. He has had more access to the workings of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba as compared to Kasab. He would be the right person to answer questions as he was with the core team planning the attack since day one. He was the Indian face to the attack and he would be the one best to tell the Indian agencies about others who took part in the attack.

Officers who are part of the investigations say that they want first want to nail the lie being told by Pakistan and later on they would get into the other details that remain a mystery. However, will the agencies tell the public more than what is already known? It appears doubtful since this probe has taken many twists and turns in the past and another turn would only mean that we find ourselves in an embarrassing situation like we did when the David Headley revelation came out.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore