Firemen douse the fire at the top floor of the Hotel Taj after a terrorist attack in Mumbai in November, 2008.
Firemen douse the fire at the top floor of the Hotel Taj after a terrorist attack in Mumbai in November, 2008.

LeT planned to project 26/11 as ‘Hindu terror’: Maria’s book

Reacting to Maria’s book, Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh said that the government had taken note of the revelations.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Mumbai, Mumbai
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2020 01:18 AM IST

Former Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria has claimed that terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) wanted to project the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks as a case of “Hindu terror” and Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Kasab as Bengaluru-based Samir Dinesh Chaudhari.

Some of these details are already known, but Maria’s detailed account of the attacks, in his book, “Let Me Say It Now”, released on Monday, has created a flutter. Maria wrote that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and LeT were trying to kill Kasab in jail as he was the crucial link between them and the 2008 attacks. According to excerpts from the book, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s gang was handed over the task of eliminating Kasab in the high-security Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai.

Reacting to Maria’s book, Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh said that the government had taken note of the revelations. “Maria was an upright police officer and performed well during his entire career. I am going to speak to him about the revelations in his book. I will take information about the contents and see what needs to be done,” Deshmukh said.

“I have asked for the details about the contents of the book. We will look into the factual position about the allegations and decide further course of action.”

Describing LeT’s plan to project the 26/11 attack as “Hindu terror”, Maria wrote, “If everything went according to plan, Kasab would have died as Chaudhari and the media would have blamed ‘Hindu terrorists’ for the attack.”

Maria claims that LeT planted fake identity cards with Indian addresses on the terrorists.

The book states that Kasab’s photograph was shared with the media by “central agencies” as the Mumbai police did not want to leak details of the attack. In the photograph, Kasab was seen wearing a red thread on his right wrist -- seemingly like the sacred thread many Hindus wear.

“There would have been screaming headlines in newspapers claiming how ‘Hindu terrorists’ had attacked Mumbai. Over the top TV journalists would have made a beeline for Bengaluru to interview his family and neighbours. But alas, it had not worked that way and here he was, Ajmal Amir Kasab of Faridkot in Pakistan,” Maria wrote in the book.

State water resources minister and Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) state unit chief Jayant Patil, who took over as home minister after the 26/11 attacks, said the revelations need to be taken very seriously. “Maria was one of the finest officers from the Mumbai police force and was not one who could come under any influence. His revelations need to be taken seriously,” he said.

Reacting to the excerpts from Maria’s book, Union railway minister Piyush Goyal said Maria should not have waited for the book. “Why is Maria ji speaking these things now? He should have said that when he was the Police Commissioner. According to the service rules, if some information is with senior police officers, they should take action on it… Terror has no religion. A terrorist is a terrorist,” Goyal said in Secunderabad.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, too, tweeted about the issue, seeking a new investigation. “26/11 Terror Act was an ISI & UPA joint operation to launch Hindu Terror operation and ban RSS. It fizzled out because a brave policeman caught Kasab alive. All ten others were killed. They were dressed as Hindus would be. A new investigation necessary.”

Meanwhile, the former Mumbai police commissioner, in his book, has also alleged his successor Ahmad Javed knew Sheena Bora murder case accused Indrani and Peter Mukerjea socially, and that Peter also knew the then joint commissioner of police (law and order) Deven Bharti on “first name terms”.

Bharti, now Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief, rejected the claim, saying it appears to be a “marketing strategy for the book which attempts to grab more eyeballs rather than place facts”.

Former additional chief secretary KP Bakshi, who was the administrative head of home department and was instrumental in handing over the Sheena Bora murder case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said Maria’s transfer from the post of Mumbai police commissioner was a correct decision taken by the then government. “There was nothing wrong in the appointment of Ahmed Javed as the Mumbai commissioner to replace Maria. The Sheena Bora case had nothing to do with the transfer. Ahmed knowing Mukherjeas socially could not have been the reason to not appoint him as the commissioner,” said Bakshi.

However, Deshmukh said they would take note of what Maria’s revelation. “If Maria is claiming that his 36-year career came under question mark owing to his sudden transfer from the case [Sheena Bora murder], it needs to be taken seriously,” said the home minister.

(With agency inputs)

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