About 100 officers of the Mumbai crime branch put in more than one lakh man-hours to collect, scan and present the evidence to prove Ajmal Kasab and others’ involvement in the 26/11 attack. Additional Commissioner of Police (crime), Deven Bharti, a key member of the investigating team tells Hindustan Times “the anxiety will remain till the verdict is announced.” Excerpts:
The biggest challenge?
Time constraint, as the charge sheet had to be filed in 90 days. We had to record statements of hundreds of witnesses and collect forensic evidence, some of which was abroad. The bigger challenge was to establish that the conspiracy was hatched on Pakistani soil with the involvement of state and non-state actors.
Was US cooperation helpful?
This was the first time that the US government cooperated in an investigation. Initially, we were apprehensive as we ventured into foreign territory to collect evidence. But we are satisfied with their cooperation. They not only helped us collect crucial technical evidence, but also deposed in the court here.
What is your reading of Kasab?
He is a fidayeen. He came to kill and get killed. For the first time we had caught a fidayeen alive. He was shocked to find himself alive. Initially he tried to stonewall our questions. His mentors had trained him to deceive us. He was thoroughly indoctrinated and had little value for others’ lives.
What was your schedule during investigation and trial?
Exhausting. For months, our officers put duty before home and sleep. During the final phase, all of us, including then Joint Commissioner Rakesh Maria and senior inspector Ramesh Mahale, stayed in office for nearly a week.
What is next?
We’ve done our job. It is now up to the government of Pakistan to track down all the 32 perpetrators we have listed, including masterminds such as Hafiz Saeed, Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi. Ideally, they should be sent here to face trial. We are in the process of executing the Letter Rogatory to the US in order to access the evidence from David Headley.