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‘Making evidence admissible in court biggest challenge’

india Updated: Dec 10, 2012 01:17 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

He had just wrapped up the investigation into the Indian Mujahideen (IM) terror module case when the 26/11 terror attack investigation fell on his shoulders. Deven Bharti, former additional commissioner of police, crime, silenced his critiques when the team he was heading filed the charge sheet on time. Bharti, now the special inspector general, law and order, said gathering evidence and making them admissible in the court was the biggest challenge in the case.

How did it feel when Ajmal Kasab was hanged?
It was a moment of satisfaction not only for me, but my entire team, which included inspectors Ramesh Mahale, Arun Chavan, Dinesh Kadam and the hundreds of constables without whom the charge sheet could not have been filed in 90 days. At the same time, in the [police] department, you have to execute once you are given a task. Every assignment is equally important.

What was the most daunting aspect of the 26/11 probe?
It was two-fold. The evidence was scattered all over, from Pakistan, Europe to the US. Gathering it was as important as making them admissible in Indian courts as per the requirements of the Indian Evidence Act. The second challenge was to prove that the conspiracy had been hatched by the LeT, state and non-state actors in Pakistan before the court.

How was Kasab different from other criminals?
Kasab was a Fidayeein [man on a suicide mission]. Though he was not educated, he was smart and was properly trained in tactics to dodge interrogation. He was thoroughly motivated. He was not afraid of anything.

Did the Mumbai police not make public the role of local operatives?
We had investigated every aspect thoroughly and did not come across any local connection.

Did the arrest of David Coleman Headley by the FBI come as a surprise to you?
No, when Kasab said he had seen videos of all targets, we knew someone was in the city. But Headley did not raise any suspicion as he had a genuine US passport and advantage of white skin, which one does not associate with this kind of terrorism.

Has Abu Jundal’s deportation revived the role of local actors in the attack?
You can’t call Jundal a local operative as he shifted to Pakistan several years ago. Even Kasab did not know his [Jundal’s] nationality. When we learnt about Hindi and Marathi tuitions given to the terrorists in the camps in Pakistan, we suspected someone could be there, but we weren’t sure.

Security agencies all over the country procured ammunition and said they were in a better position to tackle a strike. Would you agree?
I can’t speak for others, but Mumbai police are better prepared to tackle any such attack.