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Tuesday Feb 19, 2019, Jumada-al-thani 13, 1440 Hijri

The Mumbai Attacks Trial

19 May, 2010

By Afshain Afzal

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Finally, “First Phase” of Mumbai attacks popularly know as “26/11” is over after almost one and a half years of suspense, Special Judge M L Tahaliyani has pronounced Ajmal Amir Kasab guilty on all 86 charges including murder and waging war against India. Ironically, there was no doubt from the day one regarding involvement of Ajmal Amir Kasab in the militants’ attacks but what took so long is either know to Indian Intelligence agencies or its partners in Washington and Tel Aviv. Interestingly, the accused Kasab had long time back admitted all the charges and was ready to face the punishment but the case was dragged for nothing. It is too early to comment with certainty, till the time complete text of the judgment is made public and the leak outs are analyzed.

What has so far been made public indicates crystal clearly that India home grown terrorist connections have been totally wiped out from the face of Mumbai attacks ecocide. Almost every Muslim citizen of India is well aware how much Faheem Ansari and Shahabuddin Ahmed could have been involved but one wonder how come main plotters in Mumbai attacks who were in the possession of sketches and maps of Mumbai have been overlooked by the court and honourably acquitted. The point here is not to challenge the Indian court’s wisdom or to try to prove that the said two innocent Indian Muslims were actually criminals. It needs to be highlighted that how so cleverly Indian authorities have brushed aside prayers of Indian aggrieved groups, who had been shouting at the top of their pitches of injustices by Indian authorities during their course of siege.

Our memories are still sharp to recall that that during the Mumbai siege, the confession by militants was telecast live on Indian media that they were Indian nationals from Hyderabad Deccan and follow-up confirmations were made by British MI5 and US’ FBI. Whatever name we use to address these elements; Deccan Mujahideen, Indian Mujahideen, militants, rebels, insurgents or freedom fighters, no one can deny the fact that they were Indian nationals. It is an open secret that the initial reports furnished by MI5 and the FBI were pointing finger on India’s home grown terrorism. Jonathan Evans, the Director General of MI5 said that his organization had investigated Mumbai attackers’ communications and uncovered connections between the Mumbai attackers and Britain. MI5 analysts, who claim to be experts at picking clues from phrases and communications, feel that there could be connection of the militant group which carried out Mumbai attacks with Hyderabad. 

If we recall, the Mumbai Police Crime Branch claimed to have arrested 36 Indian nationals who were behind Mumbai attacks. In the same regard on December 15, 2008, a remand application was submitted by Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria before the MCOCA court to allow investigate if the Indian Mujahideen (IM) militants had any links with those behind the Mumbai attacks. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ashok Duraphe who had drafted the remand application confirmed that they filed an application to verify if the 20 alleged members of Indian Mujahideen in their custody had links with Mumbai attacks. Mumbai Police filed a second remand application for additional suspects before the same MCOCA court on January 02, 2009 but under the pressure of Indian Intelligence agencies filed a corrigendum next day, requesting the court to delete that point from the application. Ashok Duraphe also disclosed that Indian suspect, Faheem Ansari, arrested early 2008, who was in possession of some maps which indicated that he was involved in the planning of Mumbai attacks. Donald Van Duyn, Chief Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Intelligence, National Security Branch of FBI disclosed that his organization is conducting an independent probe of Mumbai attacks and has sought permission from New Delhi to interrogate more suspects locked up with Indian Police. The FBI intend to interview suspects in Indian custody to collect critical information on attack planning and group leadership of militants involved in Mumbai attacks. 

Faheem Ansari and Shahabuddin Ahmed have been acquitted in Mumbai attacks for some unknown reasons, despite the fact that Indian authorities had confirmed their links with Lashkar-e-Tayyiaba. It is generally being believed in Indian Intelligence circles that there is some secret understanding between Intelligence agencies of US, Britain and India to work on Second Phase of Mumbai attacks. However, it is important to mention here that Special Judge M.L. Tahilyani dismissed an application filed by  Shahabuddin Ahmed, seeking examination of four persons; 1) National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief S.C. Sinha, 2) Gujarat Director-General of Police S.S. Khandwawala, 3) Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt`s son Rahul Bhatt and 4) Gym trainer Vilas Varak on the grounds that it was not clear what evidence the accused wanted to bring on record from these persons and that it would be a waste of the court`s time.  Similarly, if we recall, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had examined 271 witnesses and wanted to examine another 340 formal witnesses. When state appointed lawyer, S G Abbas Kazmi desired to cross-examine all the witness, Special Judge M.L. Tahaliyani, who was presiding over the trial, cited non-cooperation on the part of Kazmi and removed him and ordered that the case would be handled by Kazmi`s assistant, lawyer K P Pawar. It appears that the sole aim during the trial had been to establish links of militants involved in Mumbai attack with Pakistan rather than convicting the culprits. 

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during various occasions claimed that India supplied Pakistan with material and evidence for them to carry out investigation as the conspiracy of Mumbai attacks that took place in Pakistan. The Indian authorities had been saying that they have marshaled ‘grade-one evidence’ to Islamabad regarding involvement of some Pakistani groups. It is strange to observe that Indian authorities had been referring oral statement of an   Kasab as ‘grade-one evidence,’ but his evidences with regard to Faheem Ansari and Shahabuddin Ahmed were not entertained by the Indian court. It is on record that the moment Indian authorities named involvement of certain Muslim Pakistani religious and Mujahideen groups in Mumbai attacks, some of the Pakistani politicians did not waste time to confirm the blame by airing self-engineered conspiracies. The sole aim behind registering the case and telecasting cock and bull stories was to settle past scores as some groups had been branding these politician as “Kafirs.” 

Instead of curbing India’s own home grown terrorism, New Delhi has always been shy in accepting that terrorism emits from its own soil. Pakistan is trying hard to get rid of home cum foreign sponsored terrorism but it is not easy unless India make a serious endeavour to stop influx of its illegal citizens from holing up in Pakistani citizens in the guise of divided families visitors, immigrates and nationality holders. Pakistan must also listen to the grievances of Indian government and do its best to help India to overcome its homegrown terrorism. Keeping aside the conflicts between the two countries, both countries need to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of each other. They must share the intelligence input, if held, against outlaws and terrorists so that both countries can live with peace and tranquility as good neighbours. 

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