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Chicago verdict won't derail Rana probe: NIA

June 10, 2011 13:40 IST

The National Investigating Agency, which is probing the David Headley-Tahawwur Hussain Rana angle to the 26/11 case, appears undeterred by the verdict given by the Chicago court.

Rana was on Thursday acquitted by a United States court on charges of abetting the Mumbai terror attacks but was convicted for providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and helping a terror plot in Denmark.

Rana's trial left enduring mysteries 

We never based our investigations completely on the case built up by US. We have been conducting our own investigation ever since these two links to the attack came out, NIA sources said.

Although the NIA has taken a couple of leads from the investigation conducted in US, the probe in India has been by and large independent.

However, NIA's efforts to get access to Rana seem like getting delayed further, as the Pakistani-Canadian's attorney has indicated that they would prefer an appeal before a higher court. When the legal process is on, the US may not grant immediate access to Rana, sources pointed out.

NIA's investigations cover more aspects as compared to the US probe. The investigation in the US dealt with the broader role, which is alleged to have been played by Rana for the 26/11 attack. However, since it was a crime that was committed in India, the NIA has been dealing with the finer aspects of the case.

The NIA has so far managed to establish that it was Rana who had provided a cover for David Headley, which enabled the latter could go about his business unabated.

Had Rana not provided the cover as sought by David Headley, it would have been virtually impossible for him to go about scouting targets in India, NIA says.

Investigations have shown that Rana was in the know of Headley's plan, agency sources say, adding that as of now it looked like a clear case of criminal conspiracy under Section 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code.

Section 120(B) reads thus: Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence will be punished with death, rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards.

A ray of hope for the NIA is the part of the Chicago court's verdict that finds Rana guilty of helping Lashkar-e-Tayiba cadres. This part of the probe would be crucial, as the NIA will seek to find out more on the Lashkar/Rana and the Indian connection.

Meanwhile, there is still a lot of paperwork that remains before India can finally seek access to Rana.

The home ministry has handed over a couple of documents to the NIA. So far, there is no official word from the US regarding the permission to question Rana. This will need to be done through diplomatic channels, but the US does not have any case to deny us the right to question him considering the fact that his actions have affected India.

Vicky Nanjappa