Three years after the Mumbai terror attacks, city police are still awaiting access to 26/11 conspirator David Headley and his alleged accomplice Tahawwur Rana, as a U.S. court is yet to respond to the Letters Rogatory of the Indian authorities.
A metropolitan magistrate’s court in Mumbai had issued Letters Rogatory to a U.S. court in October, requesting it to enable Mumbai police to question Headley and Rana in the 26/11 terror attacks case, more than a year after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was granted access to the duo.
A Letter Rogatory is a formal request by a court in one country to another in a foreign land, seeking judicial assistance.
“We had sent the Letter Rogatory to the Chicago court (that tried Headley). But, as of now, there is no response from there,” Joint police commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy toldPTI.
“We want to question Headley and Rana, which will help us to establish their local links in Mumbai,” he said.
A four-member team of NIA officials, led by Loknath Bahera, had questioned Headley face-to-face for a week in June last year to elicit information about his role in the Mumbai attacks, the wider conspiracy and all those involved in the carnage.
However, to protect the confidentiality of the probes being carried by both India and the US, the two countries did not disclose the contents of the interviews.
Headley on March 18, 2010 had pleaded guilty to conspiring the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, as well as later planning to attack a Danish newspaper, but struck a plea-bargain deal with the U.S. authorities.
In the Chicago court, Headley has pleaded guilty to 12 terrorism charges, including his involvement in the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
However, Rana, a Canadian national of Pakistani origin, was acquitted by the court of conspiracy to provide material support to the terror attacks in Mumbai.
He was convicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorism plot in Denmark and one count of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
A team of NIA is likely to visit the U.S. soon to question Rana about the help he reportedly extended to Headley, an LeT operative, to disguise as an immigrant consultant during his visits to India.
On November 26, 2008, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman of 26/11 attacks, and nine others had landed here by sea and gone on a shooting spree at various places including the Taj Mahal Hotel, Nariman House, Oberoi Hotel and CST railway station, killing 166 people.
Headley had conducted recce of all these places during his visits to India since 2006.