On the eve of the sixth anniversary of the 26/11 attack , Ujjwal Nikam, the special public prosecutor in the case, opens up for the first time on his hush-hush visit to Pakistan where he discovered that they were only going through the motions in trying the masterminds.
Nikam and three others Indian officials spent eight days in Pakistan, interacting with investigators and prosecutors there in December 2012, a month after the lone surviving terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, was executed.
This is what he had to say: After Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab was executed at Pune’s Yerwada jail in 2012, the Pakistani government extended an invitation to check and assess the progress its Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had made into the 26/11 attack.
Indian government constituted a four-member delegation which included me, a member from the MHA, an official of the MEA and one from the ministry of law and justice.
Because of the seriousness involved and security considerations in Pakistan, our eight-day visit was kept highly confidential. As we proceeded to evaluate the evidence FIA had collected, it became very clear to me that the Pakistani authorities were not really keen on nailing the perpetrators of the attack that left 134 dead and 304 injured.
I could not figure out why the Pakistani authorities were trying to impress upon us that they were taking stringent actions against the conspirators and co-conspirators.
The invitation possibly was extended because of the tremendous US pressure on Pakistan. I reached this conclusion because Pakistani authorities had neither arrested nor mentioned any role of Hafiz Saeed — the brain behind the 26/11 attack. We questioned Pakistan’s stand on Hafiz Saeed, and we were told categorically that the agency had not found anything incriminating against him.
What was startling was that the accused whom Pakistani authorities had booked were charged on the basis of their individual involvement, and were not charged collectively for the criminal conspiracy hatched to wreak havoc in Mumbai.
This essentially meant that the accused even if convicted would face much lighter sentences. Even Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the chief operational commander of LeT who was arrested, was not charged for criminal conspiracy.
I had discussions with Chaudhry Zulfikar Ali, the FIA prosecutor, regarding the case and he had even agreed to apply a few of my suggestions in prosecuting the accused. But unfortunately he was assassinated by militants in Islamabad a few days after we left Pakistan. I even told them to hold a trial on a day-to-day basis like we did in Mumbai. But I was given a rather terse reply that they had to deal with several other terror cases.