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Why India is desperate to get Sajid Mir

Last updated on: March 18, 2011 08:51 IST

Why India is desperate to get Sajid Mir

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Vicky Nanjappa

Sajid Mir was the voice on the phone goading the terrorists to kill during the 26/11 attacks. Pakistan have been evasive about giving information about him. Now they say that the only Sajid Mir operating out of the country is a cleric. Vicky Nanjappa put together the pieces.

The hunt for the mysterious Sajid Mir will only get tougher for India as Pakistan continues to remain in denial about the existence of this man. Indian sleuths do not expect Pakistan or its dreaded ISI to tell them the truth about this man.

Mir is the handler of the terrorists who carried out the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai. He was constantly on the phone with the terrorists during the attack and goaded them to mercilessly kill people.

India has been making consistent efforts to get information regarding Mir and his whereabouts. The latest bit of information from Pakistan is strange. Pakistan authorities say that the only Mir that they know is a religious leader. He is a cleric and has never been associated with the army or any other major establishment in Pakistan.

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India did make a last ditch attempt to interrogate Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Hafiz Saeed and another 26/11 accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi but were refused access recently. Although expected, the response from Pakistan was quite disappointing the Indian agencies say.

The entire 26/11 case is pretty clear, but there are two factors which continue to haunt the Indian agencies and unless that is clear investigations will not be complete. The role of Hafiz Saeed in this attack is crystal clear. It is public knowledge that he is the top man in the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and his affiliations with the Pakistan establishment are all very clear.

But India is looking for information on Mir since at the moment is more important than any other person involved in this plot. India was looking to interrogate Saeed in order to get a clear picture on Mir, his antecedents and whereabouts. However, that will not be a reality now as Pakistan has flatly refused access.


Image: Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Hafiz Saeed

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India's tryst to get its hands on Mir commenced four days after the 26/11 attack.

Although the voice samples took a while to ascertain, it was based on intercepts and other sources of intelligence that the name of Mir came out in the open.

Six months after the attack there was immense pressure on Pakistan to make arrests in connection with this attack and at that point of time they had claimed that Mir too had been taken into custody. However an expose later revealed that they had arrested someone else. Later it was announced that they had got the wrong man.

The IB says that this is one big bluff on part of Pakistan. Today they say that Mir is just an ordinary cleric in Pakistan. If this was the case, why did they make an arrest and tell the world that the man who was picked up was Mir.

India has made various attempts to get some clarity on Mir. However as was reported earlier the confusion regarding his name still remains. In some circles he is known as Sajid Mir and in some as Sajid Majid.


Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
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On the other hand, the US media says that he was part of the Pakistan army and continues to be well connected with the establishment. However, these facts too are not adding up since there is still confusion regarding his age.

India maintains that he joined the Lashkar when he was 16 years old. However it is unclear how he made the transition into the Pakistan army as an officer after that.

The interpol notice on him says he is 32 years old but David Coleman Headley whose handler was Mir says he is 34 years old.

The big question is whether someone so young could have been handed over such a huge responsibility. It somehow does not add up and there is a great deal that Pakistan continues to conceal.


Image: Video grabs of American Lashkar operative David Headley

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India says that Mir is a global operative, wanted in several cases round the world.

His conviction in absentia by a French court a few years back is a testimony to India's claims. The Intelligence Bureau also says that he was once arrested in Dubai along with a few others.

He was allegedly plotting a major terror attack, but he was released mysteriously without proper interrogation or investigation. It is suspected that his close links with the ISI helped him wriggle out this situation.

India will now have to find an alternative to find out more on Mir.



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The doors leading up to Saeed or Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi are shut now. The interrogation of Headley too did not give much on Mir.

The National Investigation Agency feels that Headley too did not know much about this man and hence the responses on him were extremely contradictory in nature.

There is a need to coordinate with the French who have tried this man and also seek access to Headley's close aide Tawahur Rana, who also knew of Mir.

While these efforts would clear up the 26/11 mystery to a large extent, it would also give India more information on possible future attacks. It is a known fact that the videos shot by Headley fell into the hands of Mir and this is worrisome since Mir is very capable of acting upon it.


Image: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram

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