The Mumbai Crime Branch on Saturday arrested Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Abu Jundal alias Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari on charges of involvement in the November 26, 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. The additional chief metropolitan magistrate granted his custody to the Crime Branch till July 31.
“Abu Jundal is a prime key conspirator in the terror attack case of 26/11. We have voluminous evidence against him. He was in Pakistan in the special control room during the attack which had the involvement of the state actors there,” Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the court here on Saturday.
He said Jundal’s role has turned out to be much larger than what was expected earlier. “[Ajmal] Kasab has already named Jundal in his confession. He has also named him during the interrogation. We would like to confront Jundal with Kasab and find out more about his links with other persons,” Mr. Nikam said.
“The Bombay High Court has ruled that the 26/11 terror attack was waging war against India. We have witnesses, documents. We would like to unearth further deep-rooted criminal conspiracy,” he said, seeking 14 days’ custody of the accused.
Jundal has been arrested under various Sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. “Fourteen days’ custody is fully justified as 166 persons were mercilessly killed. We want to find out why he participated in the conspiracy, how he got the support, who supported him, how he went to Pakistan,” Mr. Nikam said.
He said that technically, Jundal has been arrested in the case of firing at Vinoli chowpatty where Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the attack, was nabbed by the police.
Earlier in the day, Jundal was brought to the court at 11 a.m. and taken to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court by the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which was allowed to take his custody on Friday by a Delhi court.
After the ATS told the Mumbai Esplanade court on Saturday that it did not have any objection to the Mumbai Crime Branch interrogating Jundal first, the court granted his custody to the Crime Branch.
The Mumbai Crime Branch is likely to conduct a voice spectrometry test on Jundal to ascertain if his voice matches with the recorded samples of those who were present in the Karachi control room during the 26/11 terror attack. “If it matches, then it will imply that Pakistan was involved in the 26/11 attack,” a senior police officer said.
He said the police would investigate all the details about Jundal, [such as] his birthplace, the places he visited, studied in, or the places where he may have been indoctrinated.
Jundal’s name has figured in four prominent terror-related cases in Maharashtra. While the Mumbai Crime Branch has arrested him in the 26/11 case, the Mumbai ATS will later seek his custody for interrogation over his alleged involvement in the 2010 German Bakery blast, the attack on the Nashik Academy and the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Crime Branch, where Jundal will be interrogated over the next few days, has turned into a fortress. “We have secured the entire area with guards, Quick Response Team personnel. Due to security concerns, his medical examination too will be conducted in the Crime Branch,” Himanshu Roy, Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), said here on Saturday.
The police have formed special teams to go into various aspects of the investigation. “Teams have been formed for security, administrative arrangement and the investigation purposes. Three teams have been formed to look into the investigation. One team will comprise special officers for interrogation, the other team will do the paperwork while a third team is on standby to do any outstation investigation,” Mr. Roy said.