Retracting his February 2009 confession statement, gunman Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab on Tuesday said he had never mentioned the names of Lashkar-e-Taiba handlers, including the 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, before a magistrate. The special sessions court here was recording his statement under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Judge M.L. Tahaliyani pointed out that according to Kasab’s confession, he was introduced to Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-Ur-Rehaman Lakhvi, Abu Hamza, Abu Al Kama, Muzammil and Abu Umar Saeed at a training camp in Muridke, Pakistan. “No, I had not stated the names of these accused,” Kasab replied.

“You had said that while training, Hafiz Saeed told all mujahideen that they had to unite and fight for Kashmir,” Mr. Tahaliyani continued. “ Sarasar galat hai. [It’s absolutely wrong],” said Kasab. “I did not see them. That was not the situation.”

The gunman denied having said Abu Fahadullah, Abu Abdul Rehman, Abu Anas and Abu Bashir were his trainers in Bhattal. “I never saw people having these names,” he told the court. A query on a Major General sahib elicited the same response.

Kasab said he was at home during the training periods mentioned. He did not have a friend called Muzaffar. “Muzaffar and you decided to train for jihad,” the court told Kasab. “Wrong,” he said.

Kasab said he had never attended any discourse given by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The court pointed out that as per his account, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa was another name for the Lashkar. “I have heard about the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Lashkar-e-Taiba from the police,” came the reply.

Kasab contended that the police had shown him Lakhvi’s photograph and tutored him to say the things mentioned in the statement. He alleged that the confession had been forcibly recorded and the police had even administered electric shocks. He rendered null and void the description of the advanced training in combat, and use of AK47, hand grenades and satellite phone.

Throwing in a new detail, Kasab said he was working as cook in Sarai Alamgir, near Jhelum. He practically went back on all information, even on his age, address and stay in Lahore. He conceded having had a row with his father saying, “It happens in every home.” He even denied knowing Urdu, stating the confession was recorded in Hindi.

“I don’t know anything about the boat. I was with the police.” Kasab pleaded ignorance of the trawler Kuber, which the terrorists hijacked in the high seas before storming Mumbai on November 26, 2008. As for the assortment of toilet items seized from the boat, he suggested, “They could belong either to fisherfolk or smugglers. Or, they could have been planted by the police.” He contended that the police had shown him photographs of the boat and the articles. “The FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation of the U.S.] also showed me photographs.”

Kasab denied having helped the police trace the body of Kuber’s captain Amarsinh Solanki. He disowned the photograph on his fake identity card, saying it was of someone much older than him.

When he was shown currency notes seized from his cargo trousers, Kasab said the money was his, but it was not fished out of his trousers. “I was wearing leather pants,” he said. The words “Naseem gas cylinder” were written in blue ink on one of the notes.

The fare for travel by the Samjhauta Express was Rs. 2,400, he said. The train runs between India and Pakistan.

Kasab seemed to grasp Mr. Tahaliyani’s remarks, in Marathi, on the constant exchange of glances between him and special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

The gunman reacted with a smile, when the judge observed, “He understands everything.”

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