The Maharashtra ATS should wait for its turn as Abu Jundal's arrest was coordinated by the Delhi police, RAW and the Intelligence Bureau, says Vicky Nanjappa
In the wake of the arrest of top Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative Abu Jundal, a squabble has broken out between the Delhi police and the Mahrashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad over his custody.
The Maharashtra ATS has been seeking the custody of Jundal. In fact, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam was quick to move an application even before Jundal's identity was confirmed.
The Delhi police have claimed credit for this arrest and have demanded priority in interrogating the handler of the 26/11 terror strike.
The Delhi police have sought the custody of Jundal until July 5. The ATS, the primary investigator of the case, is well within its limits to seek the custody of the terrorist who committed an offence in its jurisdiction.
According to sources, while Maharahstra ATS personnel don't want to go to Delhi to interrogate Jundal, the Delhi police do not want to let go of his custody.
They add that the Delhi police and the Maharashtra ATS have been feuding over terror suspects since both started hunting Yasin Bhatkal. The Delhi police had tipped off ATS about the terrorist but the latter didn't act on the information and Bhatkal got away.
Jundal is a major catch for any police team as the case has international ramifications. The Delhi police want their share of the fame pie just as the ATS had sought it while they were probing the 26/11 case along with the city police.
The sources add that the ATS should wait for its turn as Jundal's arrest was coordinated by the Delhi police, RAW and the Intelligence Bureau.
His interrogation is crucial as it will not only reveal Pakistan's link with the 26/11 attack but also indicate LeT's plans for India. ATS officials need to realise that it is not safe to shuttle around high-profile criminals and they should go to Delhi to grill Jundal.
ATS officials point out that Ajmal Kasab, who is lodged in a Mumbai jail, needs to identify Jundal. "We had sought permission through the court. It becomes difficult to interrogate an accused in another state as they are too many procedures involved, which would waste time," said one of them.
For the National Investigation Agency, this is a case which should ideally be under their jurisdiction. While the ATS's 26/11 probe is complete and is pending an appeal about Sabahudin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari, the NIA's probe about David Headley's role in 26/11 remains incomplete.
The ATS should not rush the NIA and let Jundal answer questions regarding other 26/11 players including Sajid Mir, Muzamil Bhat and Major Iqbal.
The home ministry will have to step in now and end the confusion as the feud between the police forces is turning out to be an embarrassment. The home ministry, in consultation with the IB and RAW, will decide who will file the charge-sheet in this case.