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Updated: March 24, 2010 23:09 IST

India to write to U.S. for access to Headley

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Overlooking the U.S. envoy's remarks here that no decision was taken on giving Indian investigators direct access to David Headley, India on Wednesday said it would soon write to the U.S. for interrogating the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist.

The Home Ministry will soon get in touch with the U.S. Department of Justice seeking a date for having direct access to Headley, currently under American custody, top government sources said.

The decision comes on the heels of the government stating that it was not taking cognizance of the clarification issued by U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer that no decision had been taken and the U.S. had yet to work out how India would be given access.

In its communication, likely to be finalised in the next few days by Home Minister P. Chidambaram and top officials, the Ministry will tell the American authorities that a team of Indian investigators is ready and can visit the U.S. once a confirmation is given.

The sources said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the case of the 49-year-old terrorist, who has admitted to plotting the audacious Mumbai terror attack in November, 2008, will file the charge sheet against him only after getting direct access to him.

According to American law, the U.S. Department of Justice will have to take permission from the Chicago court which is hearing Headley's case, about India's request to have direct access to him.

Centre confused: BJP

Neena Vyas reports:

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday charged the government with being muddle-headed on the modalities that could give Indian authorities access to Headley, who has pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to being part of the 26/11 terror plot.

“The attack in Mumbai was a war against India. It is our war, but, unfortunately, we are still dependent on the United States to help us fight it,” party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said here.

Even as the government reiterated its hope that India would get access to Headley, Ms. Sitharaman said she wished that India would not once again return empty-handed from the U.S. Headley was no ordinary terrorist. He appeared to have masterminded and been part of the Mumbai terror plot. As the horror of 26/11 unfolded, the entire country was held to ransom. No such attack took place anywhere in the world. So interrogation of Headley by Indian authorities alone could bring out details of the involvement of the Pakistani state and non-state actors in the terror plot, Ms. Sitharaman said.

The Indian government, before granting the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation access to gunman Ajmal Kasab, should have ensured that India too would get to interrogate Headley, said Ms. Sitharaman.

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