The National Investigating Agency which is probing the David Headley-Tawwahur Rana angle to the 26/11 case appears not to be deterred by the verdict at Chicago. We were never basing our investigations completely on the case built up the United States and we have been conducting our own investigation ever since these two links to the attack had come out, sources in the NIA said.
Although the NIA has taken a couple of leads from the investigation conducted in the United States of America, the probe in India has been by and large independent. However there may a slight delay in the case of Rana since the man’s attorney has indicated that they would prefer an appeal before a higher court. When the legal process is on, the US may not grant immediate access to Rana, sources also pointed out.
The investigations that have been conducted by the NIA have more aspects when compared to the US investigation. The investigation in the US dealt with the broader role which is alleged to have been played by Rana for the 26/11 attack. However since it was a crime that was committed in India, the NIA has been dealing with the finer aspects of the case.
The NIA has so far managed to establish that it was Rana who had provided a cover for David Headley as a result of which the latter could go about his business unabated. The NIA says that had Rana not provided the cover as sought by David Headley, it would have been virtually impossible for him to go about scouting targets in India. He The question that would however require to be answered is how much of Headley’s plan did Rana know. The NIA says that investigations have shown that Rana was in the know of Headley’s plan. We will need to question Rana on these aspects and build our case. However as of now it looks like a clear case of criminal conspiracy under Section 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 120(b) reads thus: Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence will be punished with death, rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards.
The NIA says that in the wake of this verdict, the manner in which this case would dealt with will not change. The questionnaire that has been prepared will be untouched and once we get access, we will still ask the same questions. It is clear that nothing new has come out of this trial, but that does not mean we cannot proceed with our line of the investigation.
During the questioning of Rana, it is extremely crucial for the NIA to establish the link he had with Headley. If they are able to do so with Rana’s statements, then it puts to rest a major part of the case. The light at the end of the tunnel for the NIA is that part of the court verdict which finds Rana guilty of helping Lashkar-e-Tayiba cadres. This part of the probe would be crucial too since the NIA will seek to find out more on the Lashkar/Rana and the Indian connection. The NIA would also look to probe the Rana visit to Kochi. The questionnaire would be more or less based on the questions that the NIA asked David Headley.
However there is a lot of paper work that remains before India can finally seek access to Rana. At the moment the Home Ministry has handed over a couple of documents to the NIA. At the moment, there is no official word from the US regarding the permission to question Rana. This will need to be done through diplomatic channels, but the US does not have any case to deny us the right to question him considering the fact that his actions have affected India. While India is hopeful of getting access to Rana, the only issue may be the slight delay since Rana has indicated that he would prefer an appeal.