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The FOUR important trials pending in 26/11 case

November 26, 2012 13:20 IST
Ajmal Kasab was hanged, but there are four other trials that need to be expedited to bring the real masterminds of the 26/11 attacks to justice.  Vicky Nanjappa reports 

Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving 26/11 gunman, has been executed and with this the main trial of the Mumbai terror attacks case is complete. But four others trials which are of immense importance to the case are still on -- the case against Pakistan born Canadian Tahawwur Rana in the US court, the law suit in New York against Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, the case against key 26/11 handler Abu Jundal and Pakistan's 26/11 trial -- and far from being complete.

These trials are as important or probably even more than that of Kasab, if one looks at the bigger picture in the 26/11 case. It would be hard to rate as to which of these cases are of more importance to India. But a positive decision in all these cases would substantiate India's stand of Pakistani involvement in the biggest terror attack on Indian soil. 

Tahawwur Rana case:

According to prosecution in the United States and the Indian investigators, Rana facilitated the travel of Laskar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley, who surveyed the targets for the November 26, 2008 attack. 

Rana was tried separately in the US, but it was a setback for both India and the US, as the court did not find enough evidence regarding his role in the attack. It, however, found him guilty of charges in the Mickey Mouse Project, centered on the attack on Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, which published caricatures of Muhammad in 2005.

The NIA is desperate to get their hands on Rana, but are entangled in a legal process.

Rana has appealed against his conviction in the Denmark case and the US prosecution has appealed against his acquittal in the 26/11 case.

India has no option but to wait for this trial to complete and only then seek permission from the US to question him. The NIA, which has filed a chargesheet against Rana and Headley, will have to file an additional chargesheet against the former once they finish questioning him.

For India, the big disappointment came when Rana backtracked on his earlier version that he was working for the ISI and was carrying out their orders. 

The lawsuit in New York against ISI, Hafiz Saeed:

A lawsuit that has been filed in a New York court by the families of the victims of the 26/11 attack. They have sought to sue the ISI and also Hafiz Saeed for their role in the Mumbai terror strikes.

In this case, the New York court had issued summons to the ISI and the Lashkar chief, but both have not appeared before the court so far.

India, meanwhile, has been very slow in deciding whether to implead itself in this case. For over a year, the government has been consulting legal experts on joining the New York lawsuit against the 26/11 accused. 

India would have gained had it impleaded
itself in this case since it would give investigators the opportunity to voice their reservations against the ISI.   

Moreover, if the New York court finds that the ISI was involved in the attacks, based on this verdict there was a possibility that the US would declare Pakistan's spy agency a terrorist outfit.

According to sources, India has still not taken a decision in the case. Former home minister P Chidambaram had said that a decision is yet to be taken and there are advantages and disadvantages in this case. Former home secretary G K Pillai said that it is entirely up to the government to take a decision, as it involves a lot diplomatic issues.

India has been slow in taking a stand on this case as it feels that any such decision would hamper the India-Pakistan ties, which have started to look up recently.

Case against Abu Judal:

The NIA, which had questioned David Headley, filed a chargesheet against the LeT operative in a Delhi court. And once they get to question Rana charges will be filed against him as well.

An additional chargesheet has been filed following the arrest of Abu Jundal in January this year. The Maharashtra ATS and the Delhi police would also try Jundal as they have interrogated him as well.

Moreover, Pakistan has in-principle agreed to allow an NIA team to visit the country to examine the evidence collected against arrested LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and six others, who are being tried in 26/11 terror attack case there. The visit is likely to take place in December.

Barring Jundal, the NIA will obtain all other convictions in absentia. Headley, 26/11 planner Sajid Mir, Lakhvi, Saeed among others are not in India's custody and their extradition seems unlikely.

Pakistan's 26/11 trial:

It is very important to see what the courts in Pakistan do in the ongoing trial against 26/11 masterminds Saeed and Lakhvi.

Only Pakistan can act against Lakhvi, who is currently lodged in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi and Saeed, who was freed in 2009 after being detained for six months in the Mumbai attacks case.

However, Pakistan continues to project suspected ISI officer Sajid Mir and other officials of their spy agency.   

India has complained that the 26/11 trial is going on at snail's pace while Pakistan says that they are doing everything possible to ensure that the ends of justice are met.

However, India for now can take solace out of the fact that Pakistan has admitted that the 26/11 attack was planned on their soil and the terror operatives also received training there. Pakistani officials have provided an anti-terrorism court with details of training received by the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks' perpetrators, including Lakhvi at LeT camps/

However, Pakistan says that they would like to get a first hand account from the investigators in India. A team from Pakistan is likely to visit India by the end of this month and question magistrates, witnesses and investigating officers who were part of the 26/11 probe.
Vicky Nanjappa