Rejection for Rana- Can India make the move now?
The rejection by the Chicago court to conduct a retrial of Tawwahur Rana is a shot in the arm for the Indian agencies who have been looking to question him. The Indian external ministry team which is in the United States will be able to make a harder push for his questioning now that the court has rejected a retrial of the case against Rana.
Rana, for the National Investigating Agency is a major player in the 26/11 attack. Although the court in the US did not find enough evidence regarding his role in the 26/11 attack it found him to be guilty for the charges in the Denmark case.
Indian agencies were waiting with bated breath for the order on Rana and had a retrial been ordered then it would have been a longer wait for them to question him.
The Indian delegation which is in the US would during its talks with Hillary Clinton broach the subject of Rana. India will have to impress upon the United States regarding the urgency to interrogate Rana and also the importance of the same.
Sources in the National Investigating Agency say that although the US court has not found him to be guilty of the 26/11 attack, it would not mean that India has to close its case too against Rana. We have conducted our own investigation into the case and have found ample evidence through local sources and also the interrogation of David Headley regarding the involvement of Rana.
However the road ahead is not as easy as India may think it is. In the case of Headley it was comparatively easier since he had readily agreed to cooperate with the US agencies while seeking a plea bargain deal. The US agencies were able to convince him to be questioned by the NIA. Rana on the other hand has decided to fight out the allegations against him. He has been defiant of the charges against him and despite many attempts has refused to enter into a plea bargain like Headley. Hence there would be a great deal of legal and paper work required once India manages to convince the US about the importance of questioning him.
India however believes that if the US sanctions the questioning then the same could take place in the next couple of months. A team of the NIA which had probed Headley in the US is already on stand by and would leave for the US once they get the green signal. Indian agencies say that the questioning can take place before the sentencing and there is no bar in probing an accused who is awaiting a sentence. It was difficult in the midst of the trial and the fact that he had decided to appeal and seek a retrial only delayed the process further.
India has a lot of information to gain from Rana. The questioning of David Headley led them to get more information on Rana. Moreover the records that the NIA has with it also go on to show the role that he had played.
Also the questioning will be on the lines of the original case slapped against Rana by the US in which it was stated that he had helped the Lashkar-e-Tayiba during its 26/11 operation. Moreover the fact that he was allegedly aware of what Headley was up to and decided to conceal the same is also a making of an offence.
The NIA which has filed a chargesheet against Headley before the Delhi court finds itself stuck without a Rana version in it. The manner in which Rana allegedly helped Headley with the travel papers to India and whether there was any local help sought for the logistics and documentation is something that remains a mystery without the version of Rana.
Another angle of interest would be the exact role that Rana played in the attack. He never says that he was working for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, but says he was part of the ISI. India would like to know from him his exact role with the ISI and if they are able to ascertain this then the names of many ISI operatives ranging from Sajid Mir to Major Iqbal would come out in the open. These are names which are a mystery to the world and none have been able to say with conviction who exactly these names are. The manner in which Pakistan has concealed these names gives an indicator that they could be part of the system which means ISI operatives and this Rana would be in a better position to tell, NIA sources tell rediff.com.