Hitting the headlines after being named by Mumbai terror accused David Coleman Headley, Rajaram Rege, 40, said he now repents the meeting.
Headley, a Pakistan-born US national and an alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, has told a Chicago court that there was a plan to assassinate Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. He had befriended Rege, a ‘Sena PRO’, to gain access to Thackeray.
Talking to Hindustan Times from his hometown Vengurla in Sindhudurg district, Rege said he had nothing to do with the Sena and visited its headquarters as a social worker.
“It was a two-second interaction (with Headley), a couple of phone calls and emails, but it changed everything for me,” Rege said. “I even had to dump my Facebook account. I repent having met Headley.”
At the Sena Bhavan, Rege had met Headley, who was with Vilas Varak, a gym instructor. “They said they had come to see Sena Bhavan and I snubbed them, saying it was not a tourist location,” Rege said. “I wanted to avoid them.”
But Headley allegedly pursued Rege, saying he had a few infrastructure project ideas, which he needed to push. “He used to keep calling me, so I asked him to send me his company profile,” Rege said.
Referring to his email to Headley released by the US federal prosecutors, in which he claimed to be politically well connected, getting “projects worth R1000 crore cleared”, Rege said he was just trying to “test” Headley..”
Regarding Headley’s calling him a ‘Sena PRO’, Rege said: “He must have concluded that because he met me at the Sena Bhavan. I am a middle class individual and want a peaceful life. In fact, after I met Headley, I never went there.”
The Sena, meanwhile, said it had blacklisted Rege a few months before the 26/11 attacks.
“Several complaints came to senior leaders about Rege posing as an office bearer,” said Sena general secretary Anil Desai, “we had banned him from entering the Sena Bhavan.”