Five years after the 26/11 attack, Pakistan has once again decided to rake up a dead issue regarding the arrest of Ajmal Kasab who was hanged after being given a fair trial in India. The claim is that Kasab was arrested by the Indian agencies from Nepal and brought down to India. Pakistan is trying to suggest that Kasab was in no way present at the 26/11 site on that fateful day and he was brought down by the Indian agencies in order to defame Pakistan.
The first time that this issue was raked up was in the year 2008 when an advocate, C M Farooque claimed that Kasab was arrested in the year 2006 at Kathmandu. He also claimed that along with Kasab nearly 200 persons were arrested and an application to this affect seeking more details was lying with the Nepal establishment.
An Intelligence Bureau official who was closely associated with the 26/11 case right from day one feels that this is a diversionary tactic aimed at creating a sensation. There is enough and more proof to show that he was on the site that night and also that he was arrested and taken to the Crime Branch. At no point in time during the trial too had Kasab himself claimed that he was picked up from Nepal and he narrates exactly what happened that night.
While the Pakistan establishment itself has claimed that Kasab is their national but has nothing to do with their establishment, even the Nepal government had rubbished this claim that Pakistan is speaking about today. An officer with the crime branch who was part of the investigation tells rediff.com that what is very important while speaking about this aspect is the phone records we had gathered. The calls between the handlers from Pakistan and the two terrorists in the Chabad House does put this Pakistan theory to rest. Abu Jundal also while confirming the same tells the National Investigation Agency that there were attempts made to free Kasab. The moment the news channels flashed the news of his arrest, we told our men in the Chabad House to try and strike a deal with the Indian agencies to free Kasab.
The same is even confirmed by David Headley who was a big part of this operation. He too told the NIA that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba was worried about the arrest of Kasab since it was a direct link to Pakistan. They either wanted him dead or released at any cost and hence ordered the Chabad House buddy pair to initiate negotiations to free him.
India in its several dossiers has shared this information with Pakistan and also provided them with ample proof. Even when the judicial committee from Pakistan had come down to India and interviewed several involved with the investigation and trial they were told about this Kasab aspect and how he was arrested. The statements were recorded, but it clear that they have not submitted it in the right spirit to the investigators in Pakistan.
Pakistan has also been arguing that the Indians did not give them access to Kasab. It may be recalled that India had offered the same, but at that time none of the Pakistanis were even ready to acknowledge Kasab. They delayed the visit by nearly four years to India and by the time he was hanged. Officials say that what Pakistan needs to take into account that once a person is put on the death row, he cannot be questioned and all through the trial Pakistan never made any formal request in this regard.
India also questions Pakistan’s double standards and say why are they complaining about not being able to question Kasab. India has made requests to question Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and has also sought for the details of Sajid Mir and Major Samir Ali. Pakistan has not responded to any of these till date and an NIA officer who was supposed to visit Pakistan with regard to this case says that they do not expect Pakistan to grant permission.
Further officials also point out regarding Kasab that when at first they denied his Pakistan link where the question of now arguing that he was arrested from Nepal. A Pakistan television channel had traced the origins of Kasab to Faridkot and his father had even said that Kasab indeed was his son. However this story was scuttled by the Pakistani intelligence who later told the government that there is nothing official to prove that he is a Pakistani citizen.
On this front the Nepal government too had done a lot of clarifying to Pakistan. It did acknowledge that several Pakistani nationals were arrested for want of proper documents. However it also said clearly that there was no record of a person by the name Kasab in their custody at that time and no such person was arrested and taken by the Indian agencies.
(Story first published on rediff.com)