India is expected to formally approach the US Department of Justice over the next few days to seek direct access to American-Pakistani David Coleman Headley. The move would enable the American authorities take a decision on the nature of access and help determine the timing of the visit of Indian investigators.
Last week, Home Minister P. Chidambaram had ordered officials to quickly prepare the documents necessary to start judicial proceedings. He is likely to review the compliance of his instructions on Thursday.
The contents of the formal communication to the US authorities are expected to be finalised in consultation with the external affairs ministry.
Chidambaram — currently on a UK visit — said on Thursday that US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer’s statement did not run contrary to what US Attorney General Eric Holder had told him.
Clarifying the remarks of the US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia that Indian investigators could get access to Headley, Roemer had said that no decision on direct access for Indian authorities to Headley had been taken.
U.K. Bansal, special secretary at the home ministry, had on Tuesday evening held consultations in this regard with Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, who seemed to have indicated that there was no legal impediment in seeking Headley’s interrogation.
It was this assessment that prompted Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily to assert on India’s right to interrogate Headley. “One day or the other, the US will have to agree and expedite the issue that Headley will have to undergo interrogation by our agencies,” Moily said. “This is a matter (where) we need to press hard our argument and tell them what’s necessary. We have to make a strong case which we have already made out,” he said.
The BJP on Wednesday said the government had failed in its diplomatic efforts and might never be able to quiz Headley.
“Yesterday’s statement by Timothy Roemer that no decision to provide access to interrogate Headley has been taken by the United States has only added to our fear,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.