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How India plans to take 26/11 case forward post Rana's trial

June 02, 2011 14:50 IST
The verdict on Tahawwur Hussain Rana is expected by Wednesday. While India is eagerly awaiting the Chicago court's decision, investigators have chalked out a plan to ensure that a strong case is prepared against Pakistan and its Inter-Services agency in the 26/11 case. India may also push for Rana's extradition. Vicky Nanjappa reports

With the Chicago trial of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, co-accused in the Mumbai terror attacks with David Coleman Headley, likely to be concluded as early as Wednesday all eyes are on India. The big question remains -- will India put added pressure on Pakistan, especially now that Headley's confessions have vindicated India's stand on the Inter-Services Intelligence's role in the 26/11 attacks?

In India, investigators are examining the trial on a day-to-day basis and a report on the same is being prepared. However, the National Investigating Agency, which is under immense pressure to file a chargesheet in this case, says that there's no hurry and they are looking at preparing a foolproof case. A precedent would be laid when the chargesheet is filed and there shall be absolutely no loopholes what soever, the investigators say. 

Earlier, Home Secretary G K Pillai had pointed out that India is likely to join the lawsuit in the United States. However, Home Minister P Chidamabaram has said that there is no decision on the matter yet.

Insiders say that India may be unlikely to join the US lawsuit. On obtaining advise from legal experts on this matter, India realised that if they join the lawsuit then any decision of the US court will be binding on them.

Although the Indian law does not have any provision that they should abide by the decision of the US court, the government is aware that such a decision will be largely backed by the international community. Take for instance if India loses the case in the US, it does have an option to go ahead with its own trial. But the problem is that the international community would largely subscribe to the verdict of the US court and this would create problems in exerting pressure on Pakistan. As an official puts it, "More often than not, the world considers the verdict of a US court as the gospel truth."

And now with Rana's attorneys claiming that he is unlikely to testify at his trial, his role in 26/11 will only be established through cross examination and the final order of the Chicago court. The NIA thinks this is a bit of a setback but is looking forward to quiz Rana once the Chicago trial concludes. "We will question him about the ISI's role and are hoping that he sticks to the earlier version where he said he was an operative of the spy agency and not the Lashkar-e-Tayiba," says an NIA official.     

India is also hoping to send a judicial commission to Pakistan. Pakistan was to send a similar commission to India in mid May, but there has been no communication from them yet. "We will wait for the Rana trial to conclude before we send the commission to Pakistan," say sources.  

The commission, which will visit Pakistan, has a very crucial role to play. The most important job of the commission will be to verify the voice samples of the various handlers and terrorists involved in the 26/11 attack. "The names of Sajid Mir, Major Iqbal, Samir Ali have cropped up during investigation, however, the verification of the voice samples is extremely crucial to our case," say NIA sources.

The Indian commission will also look to interrogate some of the prime accused in this case -- Lashkar founder Hafiz Saeed and its top commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. However, the chances of getting a nod from Pakistan is bleak, add sources. Based on the report from the commission, the NIA will file a chargesheet in the 26/11 case. 

Moreover, the forthcoming visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July will be a crucial one. Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs indicate that apart from the Pakistan problem, the talks will focus on the Headley-Rana case. India will push for the possible extradition of Rana during Clinton's visit, sources in the MEA also pointed out.