'Pak deposition in 26/11 case is plain POSTURING'
Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa speaks to intelligence officials in India to find out their take on the latest deposition made by six Pakistani inspectors in the 26/11 attacks case.
From a state of complete denial to a more diluted acceptance -- that is how the Indian agencies would view the latest deposition made by the six inspectors in Pakistan regarding that country's role in the horrific 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.
Sources in the Research and Analysis Wing and the Intelligence Bureau say that the positive is that Pakistan has a diluted acceptance today, but whether this would lead up to Jamat-ud-Dawa chief and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed or Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is a different question altogether.
In addition, there is also no great deal of excitement in the ministry of home affairs following this deposition by the inspectors in Pakistan.
Amar Bhushan, former official with the Research and Analysis Wing, says it is a well-known fact that there would not have been a 26/11 attack if the Pakistanis had not allowed the same. "The other aspect is that whether there is enough evidence to the deposition made by the inspectors. The deposition looks very suspicious, and I say this because if one were to try and trace those terror training camps which these officers are speaking about, then I am very sure that none would even be able to trace them," he points out.
"Pakistan has got this information regarding the training camps from their respective interrogation and investigation of the various accused. I will tell you in my own experience when I interrogated several such operatives in India. They often quoted an area called Dera where they were trained. They also said that they were trained by the Pakistan military and navy. Now most of the names these people gave out were fictitious in nature, and when we did our investigation based on these confessional statements, we very often never found the existence of any such camp," he says.
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Image: A burning Hotel Taj Mahal in Mumbai during the 26/11 attacks
Photographs: Arko Dutta/Reuters
'Will the deposition lead us to Saeed, Lakhvi? I'm afraid no'
I still cannot believe that the Government of India is crying hoarse over the fact that Saeed or Lakhvi is not being handed over. They are well aware of Pakistan's stance on the issue. All this is nothing but posturing. Everyone is convinced that Pakistan is involved. (Arrested 26/11 handler) Abu Jundal has spoken a lot about the setting up of the control room, the planning and involvement of the (Pakistani) establishment. Can we prove all this? You cannot prove anything," he notes.
"If those inspectors in Pakistan are making such a deposition then one needs to take it with a pinch of salt. The more important aspect is that the (Pakistan spy agency) Inter Services Intelligence continues to enjoy absolute control over the establishment and such a deposition too would not have taken place unless the ISI had permitted it. It is nothing but a bit of cheese that the Pakistanis have given us and we need to take it with a pinch of salt," he adds.
C D Sahay, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, points out that the deposition goes on to show that all these are good optics to show that Pakistan is undertaking a free and fair investigation.
"They have been speaking about the places that were used for training in Pakistan. That does not lead us to Lakhvi, Saeed or even the establishment. Will any of these depositions nail down the accused? I am afraid no. The main element where the names of some persons in the army and navy have cropped up will never be acted upon," he says.
"However, let us not be too pessimistic about this development. I would like to see a positive too. After all from the initial denial they have come to this point. International pressure has surely worked to a certain extent. Also, India has produced a great deal of solid evidence and eventually the denials have diluted," he points out.
Sources in the National Investigation Agency say that they would look to interview those inspectors.
"Even if Pakistan permits the same, the problem would be to conduct an independent investigation on their soil and ascertain whether the places being mentioned by them really exist or not. However we would take a positive and include their deposition in our chargesheet," the NIA official says on condition of anonymity.
Image: Jamat-ud-Dawa chief and alleged 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed