The Pakistan Judicial Commission enquiring into the terror strike of November 26, 2008 is likely to visit Mumbai on September 7 and 8 and this time it will be permitted to cross examine four witnesses, including the investigating officer in the case and the magistrate who recorded Ajmal Kasab’s confession in Mumbai.
At the hearing of the case in the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) here on Saturday, special public prosecutor Chaudhury Mohammed Azhar submitted the confirmation of the visit from India and the offer of dates on which the Commission could visit. Special judge Atiqur Rehman has asked the Commission to confirm the dates of travel to Mumbai by September 3.
Mr. Azhar told The Hindu that the Commission headed by him with seven other members would leave for India most probably on September 7. The Indian government suggested September 3 and 4 or September 7 and 8 for the visit. The Pakistan government earlier made a formal request to India to enable the visit of the Commission to meet four witnesses, including Ramesh Mahale, the investigating officer of the terror strike, Rama Vijay Sawant-Waghule, the magistrate who recorded the confession of Kasab and the two doctors who performed the autopsies on the nine suspected terrorists who were killed in the three-day operation by the National Security Guard.
The case is being heard in-camera, Mr. Azhar said and the media was not allowed in court. In March 2012, members of the Commission did visit Mumbai and recorded some statements of witnesses but they were not allowed to be cross examined, by a magistrate’s court order. Ujjwal Nikam, who was special public prosecutor in Mumbai for the November 26 terror attack case opposed the cross examination and contended that the Commission could only record statements. Later, the ATC judge rejected the report of the Pakistan Judicial Commission as a result.
However, this time the Indian government granted permission for the cross examination of the witnesses. Mr. Azhar said the last time they did meet some doctors but they were not the ones who had conducted the post-mortems of the nine slain men.
Mr. Nikam told The Hindu on the phone that the Commission would arrive in the first week of September and they would be allowed to cross examine witnesses. Mr. Nikam said he and three officials had visited Pakistan in connection with the case sometime ago.
The case has been dragging on for a while now and the former prosecutor, Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, was shot dead on his way to the Rawalpindi court in May this year.
Heavy security has now been provided to Mr. Azhar.
Mr. Ali was handling the Benazir Bhutto case apart from the November 26 terror strike and other high profile matters.