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26/11 attacks: David Headley opened immigration office in Mumbai in 2006, says ex-staff 

The prosecution examined the woman Mahrukh Bharucha as a witness in the attacks case

mumbai Updated: Jan 18, 2018 09:05 IST
Charul P Shah
Charul P Shah
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Tardeo,26/11 attacks
David Headley was arrested in 2009.(PTI)

A 60-year-old woman on Wednesday confirmed that US citizen of Pakistani origin and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley stayed in Mumbai before the 26/11 terror attacks and started an immigration business in 2006.

The prosecution examined the woman, Mahrukh Bharucha, as a witness in the attacks case.

Bharucha told the court that she was appointed by Headley as his secretary in November 2006 when he started his business under the name of Immigrate Law Centre as a consultant for immigration to Canada.

Her job responsibilities included maintaining records of all clients and following up with the authorities, she told the court. Headley had told her that “the purpose of opening of the office was to assist people who can go to America”.

Headley — who recced various Indian cities, including Mumbai before the 26/11 attacks — was arrested in 2009. He was the first person to be examined by the prosecution in 2016. During his deposition, he mentioned that Barucha was his employee.

After his revelation, she was first questioned by the Mumbai police early in 2016 and the National Investigating Agency (NIA).She had told the police that Headley hardly used to stay in office. For the most part of the year, Headley would spend time in Dubai, Pakistan, America and other countries, she informed the police. She also said Headley left India in July 2008 for America and had not returned since then.

Bharucha had also provided crucial information to investigators about Headley’s connection with Pakistan-born businessman Tahawur Rana, who used to call him on the office landline and visited the office in Tardeo on several occasions.

Rana was also booked by the United States for his association with Lashkar-e-Taiba and supporting Headley in immigration business. They were said to business partners Rana. However, during the trial, a US district court had convicted Rana for providing material support to LeT but acquitted of the charge of conspiring to plot the 26/11 attacks.

During her interrogation, Bharucha had claimed that in March and April 2008 Rana visited the Tardeo office with his wife when Headley was not there. Bharucha revealed that after the 26/11 terror attacks, Rana had called her to check on the aftermath. Rana advised her to close the office for some days considering the situation, she told investigators.

First Published: Jan 18, 2018 00:24 IST