An eight-member Pakistani judicial commission team crossed into India from the Wagah border check post in Punjab on Saturday to conduct the much-delayed cross-examination of witnesses in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which claimed 166 lives.
"We are coming to collect evidence regarding the court news of Ajmal Kasab," said Special Public Prosecutor Afsal Choudary.
The commission was earlier scheduled to leave for India on September 11, but the visit was postponed due to Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
The witnesses include the magistrate who recorded the confessional statement of captured Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab and the chief investigating officer and two doctors who conducted autopsy on the bodies of the other terrorists involved in the attack in 2008.
This is the second time the commission is visiting India. Its earlier report, submitted after the first visit in March 2012, was rejected by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan, as the panel members were not allowed to cross-examine the eye-witnesses.
The anti-terrorism court, which is conducting the trial of seven Pakistani suspects including Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, who have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks, had declared as illegal the findings of the commission on the ground that it was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses.
Following the development, a delegation of the home ministry that also included Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had visited Pakistan to sort out the matter with the authorities there.
Eventually, India had agreed to allow the panel to cross-examine the witnesses to speed up the much-delayed trial in the case in Pakistan. The trial in India has already concluded and the lone surviving 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab has been hanged.
"This delegation is for discussing the projects which have been planned by India on Chenab River. There are four projects and we had discussed these projects in March this year. And the purpose of this tour is to continue the discussions on this tour," said Mirza Asif Baig, Pakistan’s commissioner for Indus waters.
On November 26, 2008, Ajmal Amir Kasab and nine other heavily-armed terrorists, who arrived in India by sea, attacked various places, including the Taj Mahal Hotel, Nariman House, Oberoi Hotel and the CST railway station, killing 166 people and injuring several others.
Image: Ajmal Kasab at CST station