The home ministry has ordered a verification of the list of 50 most-wanted fugitives that it handed over to Pakistan in March after a national daily reported on Tuesday that one of the wanted men was not hiding in Pakistan but has been living in Thane near Mumbai for years.
The man in question, Wazhul Kamar Khan, 44, is no fugitive either. He was arrested and bailed out in Mumbai last year over his alleged involvement in the train blasts in Mumbai in 2002 and 2003.This is the second time that investigating agencies have embarrassed the government.
The first was their initial insistence that Pakistan-backed terrorists were involved in blasts in the Samjhauta Express train and Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid in 2007.
Later, investigators came around to acknowledging the role of home-grown right-wing extremists in the terror attacks.
The report of Khan's arrest led to fears that the slip-up could dent New Delhi's campaign to corner Islamabad following al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's killing by US forces in Pakistan.
Khan said he was shocked how he made it to the list given to Pakistan.
"I have been here in Thane for years. How come they included my name in the most-wanted list sent to Pakistan?" the zari businessman told reporters in Thane.
In Delhi and Maharashtra, security agencies spent a larger part of the day pointing fingers at each other for the slip-up.
By the evening, Union home secretary GK Pillai stepped forward to end the bickering and own up responsibility.
"There is no blame game. It is the home ministry that is taking the blame for it. The Mumbai police can rest assured they are not being blamed for it at all," Pillai said.
Pillai had earlier in the day asked the Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency and Intelligence Bureau to examine their records to ascertain how the lapse took place.
A similar exercise would be carried out at the ministry on Wednesday.
"It could have been a cut-and-paste job at some stage. We will find out who is responsible," a home ministry official said.