Is the Malegaon probe inching towards a closure?

The investigations into the Malegaon blasts are inching towards a close with the ATS arresting Praveen Muthal. Praveen Muthalik who was a member of both the Abhinav Bharath and the Shri Ram Sena was picked up and is being interrik.ogated for his role in the Malegaon blasts.
Initialy reports of his interrogation make it clear that he was the man who helped with the logistics and also was one among the three who planted the bombs at Malegaon.
The ATS was on the look out for Muthalik for quite sometime and now information that trickles in goes on to suggest that he had been hiding in Nepal and the intelligence had kept a track on his phone calls at all times. It was only recently that he came down to Karnataka from where he was picked up.
Muthalik hails from Gokak in Karnataka and his name had cropped up for the very first time during the interrogation of Colonel Purohith of the Abhinav Bharath who has also been arrested for his role in the Malegaon blasts. The name of Muthalik also found a mention in the interrogation of Dayanand Pandey a self styled god man also wanted in the same case.
If one notices the manner in which the Abhinav Bharath went about its activities there is a shocking resemblence to the manner in which the Students Islamic Movement of India operated. The entire modus operandi of the SIMI had been replicated by the Abhinav Bharath to ensure that they do not get caught. Investigators point out that Purohith who was part of the military intelligence had a lot of information on him regarding the manner in which the SIMI operated and used the exact same modus operandi to carry out activities of the Abhinav Bharath as well. Drawing similarities to the manner in which both these outfits functioned it becomes clear that the Abhinav Bharath was trying to replicate SIMI. The manner in which they were setting up modules, the preparation of the bombs and even the same hide outs were used so that all trails of the police force led to SIMI which is also notorious for its terror related activities.
Muthalik, ATS officials say was an important member of this gang. He has with him a lot of answers to modus operandi.
The investigations relating to Muthalik so far show that he along with Sameer Dange and Ramji Kalasanghra carried out the Malegaon blasts at the insistence of both Purohith and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. Immediately after the blasts, Muthalik went missing and the intercepts that have been picked up on him suggested that he was hiding in Nepal along with both Dange and Kalsanghra. The investigators suspect that Dange and Kalsanghra too may be hiding in Nepal and the NIA has already put out a Rs 10 lakh reward for the person giving more information on these two men.
Apart from this the CBI would also question him since they believe that he had a role to play in the Mecca Masjid blasts. The more important aspect however is that investigators suspect that these men have hidden away some explosives. At the time the Malegaon blasts were carried out there were a lot of explosives that had been sourced and only a portion of it had been used, investigators say.
Investigators say that Muthalik had been the perfect person for the Abhinav Bharath since he was a smart operator. He travelled a lot collected information and also provided logistics for operations. He never had a full time job and always did odd jobs to stay undercover. There were times when he worked as a news paper agent and at times he also worked at a cell phone shop. He was very much in the inner circle of the Abhinav Bharath and hence his arrest becomes extremely important for the agencies to put up a water tight case.


Is Lashkar frustrated?

Kashmiri's protest after the killings. Photo courtesy: Dawn
The killing of two girls at Sopore a couple of days back at the hands of the dreaded Lashkar-e-Tayiba has shocked the world. The Lashkar which normally claims that it does not target civilians has acted in the most barbaric fashion this time and there are reasons galore which are being put up for this inhuman act.

The biggest support that the Lashkar enjoys in Kashmir is from a section of the people in that state. They are well aware of the fact that if that local support goes down even a wee bit for them, their battle in Kashmir is lost.

Intelligence bureau officials say that the recent killings show that the Lashkar is frustrated and had doubted that the two girls were acting as informers to the police. Although investigations to this effect are still on, the IB believes that this could be one of the primary reasons for the Lashkar terrorists to gun down these girls.

The IB says that the Lashkar is bound to get more frustrated in the days to come since there is a gradual change in the mindset of some people in the border areas of the state. The Lashkar enjoyed a great deal of support from these people. Not only did they support the Lashkar militants with logistics but also provided them with shelter during their operations. This had made it extremely difficult for the Indian forces to carry out operations since there was always this factor that the Lashkar hid behind the civilians during an operation.

Recent intercepts would suggest that the Lashkar would go aggressive on the civilians in the Valley as they find that there is resistance from the people. The Indian government has been taking the claims by a section of the people very seriously and have realized that the only way to get that part of the population into their fold would be through talks and understanding their problems better. This has frustrated the Lashkar and the Pakistani establishment no end.

Imran Bilal a Lashkar operative from Kashmir says in his interrogation that the outfit thrived most on the sympathy of the local people. They provided us with logistics and shelter at all times and that made out battle against the Indian forces easier. Over there we were never viewed as terrorists, but as freedom fighters. Our biggest hide outs were in the houses of the people and it was hard for security forces to track us down. He also goes on to say that there is a mind set among some people in Kashmir that the Indian government is not bothered about them in the border areas. This factor is being taken advantage of by the men from the across the border and they use the civilians to further their goals.

Intelligence sources say that in the months to come there will be more changes in the mindset of the people and this will only make the ISI/Lashkar more aggressive. They will look to target more civilians in order to spread fear amongst them in order to garner more support. The policy will be clear in the months to come- the Lashkar will target the informers of the Indian police and also all those civilians who go against their wishes and subscribe to the view of the Indian government.

What ATS seeks from Muthalik

The Maharashtra Anti-terror Squad made a very important arrest in the Malegaon blast case late Monday night. Praveen Muthalik, who is said to be one of the executors of the blast, was arrested and later remanded in police custody till February 14. He had been absconding for nearly two years.

The ATS has been on his trail since his name figured in the interrogation of Colonel Srikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, other accused in the case. The ATS had even gone to Karnataka two years back to look for Muthalik but returned empty handed.

Muthalik’s arrest solves a major problem for the ATS. He is important since he is one of the three persons who planted the bomb in 2006, which killed several people. Two others in the team — Ramji Kalsanghra and Sandeep Dange — are absconding. Muthalik’s arrest may help the ATS make sense out of the case and also help investigating agencies in their search for Dange and Kalasanghra.

Interestingly the confession of Swami Aseemanand, who is an accused in several blasts cases, does not make any mention of Muthalik. However, investigators say that this does not indicate that Muthalik was not involved since Aseemanand’s confession regarding the Malegaon incident is very vague. He only says that he met with Dange and Kalsanghra and both had told him that they had returned from Maharashtra and two days later he had read about the Malegaon blasts.

ATS sources say that Muthalik was part of the gang which executed the Malegaon attack. They are not sure whether he had any role to play in the other blasts in which the names of his accomplices, Dange and Kalsanghra, have cropped up.

Many other agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and the National Investigation Agency will want to quiz Muthalik. Apart from information regarding the other two missing accomplices, Muthalik may also have information regarding the sourcing of the RDX used in the blasts, which still remains a mystery.

An earlier version that Purohit had stolen them from the army and sourced it for the Malegaon blast has not been established and the ATS has been hoping that Muthalik will provide those answers.
Muthalik’s interrogation will be very crucial for investigators as they try and join the dots in the case.

Why did Purohith want to kill Indresh Kumar?

Indresh Kumar. Photo courtesy: Samay Live
The name of RSS leader Indresh Kumar has often made the rounds in the past couple of months in connection with various acts of terror which the country has witnessed. Barring a few instances of some of the accused taking his name, the investigating agencies have not yet managed to get anything concrete against him as of now.
However what both the NIA and the CBI are looking into now is the statement allegedly made by Colonel Srikanth Purohith in which he said that he wanted to kill Indresh Kumar and a plot to attain the same had also been hatched.
Although these revealations are not directly connected to the ongoing investigations into the Malegaon, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer or Samjautha blasts case, investigating agencies are keen to find out more since it indicates that there was a clear split in this network.
What is more important in this angle to the investigation is that Purohith also goes on to claim that Kumar had alleged links to the ISI. Sources say that this allegation forms part of an intelligence report from the military and they will need to probe further on it since if it is true then it is a very disturbing development.
Sources told that there was constant confrontation between Indresh Kumar and Purohith of the Abhinav Bharath and the the latter had hatched a plan to eliminate him. While Purohith claims that it was a total conflict of interest that made him hatch such a plan, officials point out that this conspiracy could have been hatched since Purohith and the rest felt betrayed that Kumar didn’t do much to protect them as had been allegedly promised.
The first of the problems between the two began during the Nepal issue. Purohith had been very vocal that there should not be a regime change in Nepal since he felt that under the King, it was a complete Hindu Rashtra. However according to him, Kumar didn’t do too much to ensure that the King’s rule remained and there was not the required amount of tinkering in that administration which eventually led to the king being dethroned.
Further there is also an allegation that Kumar may have had a vested interest in Nepal since he had some personal business which in turn has upset Purohith as he felt that at no cost a Hindu rashtra should be compromised due to vested interests.
Going by the interrogation of Purohith it comes to light that he was a hardliner. He had no other interest but to counter the ISI which he felt had become a big menace for India. All through his interrogation he has stuck to this fact. He also goes on to say that he was focused on attaining a Hindu nation and for this all ISI elements had to be eliminated. It was in this regard that he launched the Abhinav Bharath. He roped in cadres and also businessmen from Pune to fund his operations, his interrogation has also revealed. He also branched out his outfit to do separate jobs such as finances, arms supply and logistics. He was however particular that people like Kumar should not remain in this network since he had felt betrayed and cheated by him.
The ATS Maharashtra which has been probing Purohith have found certain versions regarding this conspiracy to be contradictory in nature. One version that they initially got from Purohith was that he was asked to kill Kumar. However one of the financiers of the outfit, Shyam Apte claimed that it was purohith who launched this plan. HOwever the investigations so far have shown that he had first complained to the army regarding Kumar and his links across the border, but they were never taken seriously and hence he decided to do this by himself.
During the planning stages he also tried to rope in Sadhwi Pragya Singh into this conspiracy, but she had refused since she had high regard for Kumar. Purohith is alleged to have told Pragya Singh about this plan and had also sent two persons to her and asked her to accommodate them until they needed to go ahead with the plan. However she had flatly refused to be part of this operation and there is a lurking doubt that she may have also informed Kumar about this plan.
As per investigations it has been found that this plan was hatched in the year 2008 in New Delhi. He had gone to an ashram in Faridabad along with a retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer and Bharath to carry out this assassination. Over there he met with Dayanand Pandey a god man and here it was decided that they would need to procure arms and ammunitions to carry out this attack on Indresh Kumar.
Ganesh Sovani, advocate for Pragya Singh however said that these aspects have not come up for probe since they do not find any mention in the reports handed out by the investigating agencies.
The plan to eliminate Kumar however did not materialize since Purohith was arrested and the entire operation fell flat.

‘I found lapses in 2G Spectrum sale’

Justice Shivraj Patil. Photo courtesy: NDTV
Justice Shivraj Patil, former Judge of the Supreme Court who was appointed to probe the lapses in the sale of 2G spectrum submitted his report to the government a while ago. The one man committee headed by Justice Patil was appointed by the government of India to probe the lapses and also give suggestions to streamline the policy regarding the sale of spectrum in future.

Justice Patil in his report has named officials who are guilty in the telecom department. In this interview with, he says that he hopes the mess will be cleared up and also adds that he is hopeful that his recommendations will be considered by the Government in quick time.

Has it been a tough couple of months with this new role that you had been asked to take up?

Yes it has been pretty tough. The job was a tedious one and I have worked hard to study the matter and hand out a report.

Are you satisfied with the manner in which the report has shaped up?

Yes I am. I have completed the work that has been assigned to me. Now it is up to the government to study it and also act upon it.

Does your report deal with names of guilty persons only?

Not exactly. It does name a couple of persons in the telecom department who are guilty and who have flouted norms. Apart from this I have also made a lot of suggestions which if implemented will ensure that a better system is in place.

What is the loss that you have estimated in your report which has been incurred as a result of this scam?

You should understand that I did not have to get into this aspect. The terms and references of this commission were clear that I did not needs to get into that aspect at all. I had to adjudicate the appropriateness of the current norms and also the policy issues and procedures that had been adopted to allocate airwaves to telecom operators since the year 2001.

Have you found there to be lapses in the allocation process since 2001?

Yes I have found some lapses and all that forms part of my report.

Would you like to tell us about the lapses?

It will not be right on my part to reveal that at the moment. I was asked specifically to probe these lapses and submit a report to the government and I have done that in the time given to me. It is now up to the government to study that report and act upon it.

What about the big players such as Raja and the rest? Does your report name all of them?

Once again it is not appropriate to make any comments on that. However the larger issues of this scam were not before me since it did not form part of the terms and references. There are other committees and agencies probing that. I have just stuck to my job and have not deviated from it. The main point of my terms and references involved the lapses which occurred within the department and the other issues were not before me.

Was there any kind of pressure on you?

Not all all. I was allowed to work with independence and there was no sort of pressure on me.

Have you found any major telecom company of NRI players guilty in your probe?

It will not be right for me to comment on that. I have found some persons guilty and I have already said that. But the larger picture will be out in a couple of days and it is better for us to expect the government itself to come out with all those aspects.

Is this commission just a eye wash since the larger issues appear to be more important and your report deals only with the small players?

No how can you say that. Each aspect in this case is important and my part of the inquiry does have bearing. The government was very serious about what it needed when it appointed me to do this job. It is not just an eye wash.

Was four weeks enough to complete the probe?

Yes it was enough. I was not expected to call for records and ob-jections and hence the process was not lengthy. There are issues already before the CAG, the Public Accounts Committee and also the Supreme Court of India. Each one is doing its job or performing its role. Hence mine was a limited brief and so I feel that four weeks was a good enough period. My job was restricted to find out whether the procedures have been followed or not. Moreover it was always my endevour to complete the job early since it is a very important matter.

Normally reports by commissions are never taken seriously by the governments and we have seen that in the past as well. What would you do if your report too meets with the same fate?

There is nothing I can do about it. However I have reasonable expectation that the government will act upon the report for sure. As I said earlier the government set up this commission with a lot of seriousness and expectations and hence I have no reason to believe that they will not act upon it.

Headley’s wife Faiza speaks out for the first time

david-headleyThe name of David Headley has been splashed all over ever since the FBI picked up and announced to the world that he was the one who scouted targets for the horrific 26/11 attack. As news reports started to pour in regarding Headley, there was also another angle which was debated and that was pertaining to his Moroccon wife, Faiza Outalha.

It was reported that she had complained regarding her husband, but it was never taken seriously. However Faiza says that her husband is innocent and he deserves to get out of jail. In this interview with which was was facilitated by George Alexander Mapp who is working together with her on an upcoming book project about David Headley, Faiza Outlalha speaks about her experience post David Headley and also her future plans.

How has life been for you after the David Headley revelation?

It has been miserable! I am married to him but not able to talk to my husband. Also I am being called all kinds of different names on an international level. So it isn’t fun at all. Continue reading “Headley’s wife Faiza speaks out for the first time”

‘Muslims cannot forget what Modi did’

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
Maulana Gulam Mohammad Vastanvi is mired in controversy thanks to his pro-Modi remarks. There has been so much outrage amongst his own community that he was forced to resign as the vice chancellor of Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband.

This reaction clearly shows that the Muslims in India are still not prepared to move on from Modi and anything good said against the Gujarat Chief Minister is still viewed as a crime.

Editor of the Milli Gazette and former President of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat , Dr. Zafrul Islam Khan feels that this entire controversy is a result of a war between two internal faction of the Darul Uloom. In this interview with, Dr Khan says that the Maulana had not give a clean chit to Modi but also goes on to add that no Muslim can ever forget what Modi did in 2002.

What do you make out of the entire Vastanvi controversy?

It is a war between two internal factions in Darul Uloom. They have joined hands to oust an outsider. The Modi comment, grossly misquoted, offered them a convenient ploy to achieve this aim. They would have waited for some other ruse to achieve their aim. The two functions fear that if an outsider takes over Darul Uloom and stays there for long, they will be sidelined. In his Times of India statement, Maulana Vastanvi did not give a “clean chit” to Modi as claimed by his detractors. Instead, the TOI report clearly said that he did not give clean chit to Modi but some reckless Urdu newspapers reported that he gave clean chit to Modi.

Was there anything wrong in what he said?

No. What he said was only that today’s Modi is focusing on development and that the fruits of development are reaching all who live in Gujarat which of course includes Muslims. He did not condone the 2002 riots and did not call for the withdrawal of cases or their dilution.

There continues to be anger among the Muslim community despite him saying he was misquoted and also his decision to resign. Why is that?

The anger is limited to a section of the community which is under the influence of the two factions I referred to earlier. Urdu media by and large has not played up on this controversy. The only exception are two Urdu newspapers published from Delhi which are notorious for publishing “paid news,” so much so that one of them, Sahafat, yesterday (26 January) devoted its whole front page to sensational news with shrieking headlines which was mostly concocted and baseless. The agitation inside Darul Uloom Deoband is limited to around 2-3 dozen students and perhaps to two teachers while a majority supports Maulana Vastanvi inside the institution and outside it in the town of Deoband as well as across India as he has a very clean and unblemished image of a cleric who is open to modern education and has already achieved a lot single-handedly. His institution at Akalkuwa in Maharashtra is larger than Darul Uloom and has, beside a reputed madrasa, colleges of engineering and medicine etc which are on the placement list of big companies like Tata. He also runs dozens of institutions across India.

A person is permitted to speak his mind in a democracy. Is it fair on part of the rest of the Muslims to vent their anger against him?

The issue of democracy is precisely what is at stake here. Maulana Vastanvi has been duly elected by the highest body of Darul Uloom, viz. Majlis-e Shoora (Consultative Council). He secured eight votes while other contenders received only four (Maulana Arshad Madni) and two (Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi) votes respectively. In this situation, he should be allowed to function and show his performance which Majlis-e Shoora alone could evaluate in a year or two. Forcing such a person with impeccable track record because of a handful of noisy protesters working for factions which refuse to come out openly, is anti-democratic.

Do you think that there is a section of the Muslim community which wants to change its opinion about Modi, but are not being allowed to do so?

The Muslim community cannot forget or forgive the 2002 pogroms. Modi is sheltering the culprits and trying to frustrate justice. Justice must be done to the victims of 2002 riots but at the same time Muslims inside Guarat and outside are not blind to the fact that Modi is trying to change, is concentrating on development and is also trying to project a secular image and giving some space to Muslims in his administration and even inside the BJP.

What is your thinking on the plight of Muslims in Gujarat today? Is it really bad or is this just media hype?

There is no doubt that Muslims in Gujarat are still living under fear. The pogrom victims are yet to get justice. Hundreds of Muslim youths arrested on trumped up charges are still languishing in Modi’s jails. Proper compensation is yet to be paid to the victims. Something like 30,000 riot victims are still languishing in refugee camps across Gujarat unable to go back to their villages and lands. Modi even returned central government funds claiming that there was no need for them. But at the same time, Modi and his party in Gujarat are trying to change their image and Gujarat Muslims are feeling the change but it is still not sufficient.

Is it time to move on, on the Narendra Modi issue? Is the Muslim community ready for that?

The changes in Gujarat are not enough for us to move on and the Muslim community at least outside Gujarat are not ready to move on, though many Gujarati Muslims for obvious reasons want to open a new page without forgetting 2002 or forgiving its perpetrators led by Modi.

The Deoband students appear to want Vastanvi to stay on. What are your thoughts about that?

My information is that the vast majority of both students and teachers want Maulana Vastanvi to stay on. Yesterday (26 January) many students demonstrated in Darul Uloom demanding he stays as their rector.

He has been branded as RSS. Don’t you feel that the issue was pushed too far?

This branding was not done by Muslim leaders or masses in general. This irresponsible talk is limited to a few Urdu newspapers which are notorious for paid news.

He says that he has stated the fact. There is no violence in Gujarat and the Muslims are doing business over there. What was wrong in that?

What he says is about Gujarat 2011. It is a fact that there is no anti-Muslim violence in Guajarat today because the BJP has learnt a lesson and paid heavily for its earlier crime. It is also a fact that Gujarati Muslims, known for their business and entrepreneur skills, have stood again on their feet even without government help.

About the Gujarat riots he says that the guilty should be punished, but Muslims need to move ahead. What do you make of that statement?

Muslims share Maulana Vostanvi’s demand that the guilty in 2002 riots should be punished. There is no difference of opinion among the vast Muslim community on this matter. The only exception may be the few paid by the RSS in the rag tag “Muslim Rashtriya Manch” put together by terror-tainted Indresh Kumar.

Church attacks- no wrong doing by BJP

In a major reprieve of sorts the Justice Somashekhar Commission of Inquiry probing the Church attacks case has given a clean chit to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh Parivar in Karnataka.

The Committee which was set up almost two years back following a spate of attacks on Church particularly in the Mangalore belt has said that there is no merit in the allegations made against the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. “ The Commission goes on to say that there is no basis to the apprehensions of the petitioners before the commission that the politicians, BJP, Sangh Parivar and also the state government are directly or indirectly involved in the attacks. These observations were made in the final report that was submitted to the Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa on Saturday.

The commission further goes on to state that there was an allegation as well as an impression created that top police officials with the district administration had colluded with the attackers who descecrated the Churches. The Commission pointed out that there is no merit in this allegation.

The Commission has however given a little bit of a breather to the Christian community in Karnataka who were most affected by these attacks. It has said that the Government and the district administration ought to have treated the Christian protestors with sympathy and this had not been done.

This commission also goes on to give out a list of recommendations in which it says that there should be an exclusive police station only dealing with religious matters. Such a police station should have specially trained police officials who can deal with such matters with a human touch. Further the commission adds that such police stations should function without the interference of the state government.

The commission was set up in October 2008 and had before it a total of 1500 petitions. There were 34 advocates in all who represented the various groups from Mangalore, Udupi, Davangere and also Bangalore.

The Mir headache for India

Mir? Photo courtesy:
He continues to be out in the open and that is bad news for India. Sajid Mir the chief plotter of the 26/11 attack continues to throw open a lot of questions and there is still plenty of confusion regarding this man. Indian agencies who term him as the biggest threat to India’s security say that he is extremely well connected with the Pakistan establishment but did not hold a rank in the army as was being speculated.

The confusion regarding Sajid Mir commences with his name. While investigators from the United States identify him as Sajid Mir, the Indian dossier on this man refers to him as Sajid Majid.

The 26/11 attacks may be two years old, but the investigations continue almost 24/7 since there appear to be a lot of unanswered questions regarding this attack. While the NIA and the Intelligence Bureau have managed to get a clear picture on the manner in which the attack was carried out there still is confusion regarding the operation of David Headley, the role played by Major Iqbal and more importantly Sajid Mir.

What Indian intelligence agencies have managed to ascertain so far is that his was the voice which ordered the killings at the Chabhad House. They have also managed to find out through the conversation that he had attempted a hostage sweep but at the end of it that had failed.

The question as to who Mir is continues to haunt the Indian investigating agencies. However a source in the IB told that he was well connected with the Pakistani establishment, but was never part of the army as had been claimed by various other investigating agencies.

Mir according to the Indian dossier is a global operator and he has even been convicted in absentia by a French court. He never restricted himself to Pakistan and has travelled the globe extensively to set up bases for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba which is evolving into a global outfit.

India has confronted Pakistan on various occasions regarding Mir, but the response was an expected one at all times. Pakistan continues to deny the man’s existence on their soil. The IB say that this was an expected response since any information on him from Pakistan would be suicidal for them.

His strong connections to the Pakistan establishment go back several years back when he was arrested in Dubai. He was picked up there as he was involved with a group of men in connection with a plot. However he managed to get out in no time and this only went on to show the strong connections he had within the system. That in fact was the last any one saw Mir.

The case of Mir is not a confusing one for India alone. Agencies across the globe who are probing his antecedents do not have anything concrete on him. The IB says that the problem begins with his name and we are very sure that he has not been using his actual name which is why no Pakistan is able to deny his existence. This man who has been termed as ruthless as well as charming goes by several aliases such as Abu Bara, Uncle Bill Ibrahim, Wassi and Sajid Bill.

His name had also cropped up in the David Headley interrogation by the NIA. He makes several references to him and going by what Headley said it became clear that Mir was the one who controlled most part of the operation including the Headley tour of India.

Indian investigators say that it was Mir who laid the ground work for the attack on India. There is a report by the Indian agencies which suggests that he had travelled to India as a cricket fan and used this opportunity to identify several targets which were later scouted by Headley.

The NIA says that it will need go back to this particular incident when Mir had come down as a cricket fan and probe deeper in order to find out more. This part of the probe will be very crucial since it will help establish the Mir angle with more certainity.

The reason why Mir decided to take the plunge by himself was because it was he who had to break the news that the Lashkar would be withdrawing from Afghanistan and he noticed that the forces had become completely demoralized. However according to files in India, he did not stay on too long and was summoned back to Pakistan since the establishment over there thought it to be too risky to let him wander around in India.

It was only when Mir met with Headley did the plan begin to materialize. The rest is a well known fact and the investigation of Headley by both the NIA and FBI make it clear that Mir was the one who controlled the operation.

Mir, according to the IB is a blue eyed boy of the Lashkar and his association with the dirty world of Islamic terror commenced when he was just 16. He looked up to Hafiz Saeed as a father figure and has been with him ever since. There was also a conflicting report that he had joined the army in Pakistan as a Major. However the Indian agencies believe that he was and continues to be well connected with the ISI and could have been part of them. His association with the Pakistan armed forces has been very thick and continues to remain that way since the establishment across the border relies very heavily upon him.

Pro Publica which reported extensively on Mir highlights the confusion surrounding this man. It says that the Interpol notice against Mir is mired in confusion. “The Indian warrant identifies him as Sajid Majid, but most investigators still call him Sajid Mir, saying Majid may be his true name or one of several aliases. Interpol says his birthdate is Jan. 1, 1978, which would make him 32. But Headley, his star operative, told Indian investigators Mir was born in 1976, according to a 119-page report on his interrogation in Chicago last year by India’s National Investigation Agency. Most investigators think he is in his mid to late thirties, “ Pro Publica also reports.

The Indian dossier goes on to state that his hatred for India was thanks to his father who was born in India. He was drilled with horror tales about partition from a very young age which prompted him to take up arms against India.

A testimony before a French Court which sentenced in absentia states that he joined the Lashkar when he was 16 and rose very quickly to become the head of the Lahore unit. His knowledge of the world and the manner in which he could grasp things ensured that he was promoted as one of the chiefs of the Lashkar’s foreign wing. His primary role was to pick foreign recruits and throw them into the open so that they could undertake jihad globally. During his early stint with the Lashkar he focused primarily on Canada, Qatar, Syria and Thailand and has also travelled to these countries.

The Headache for India: Today Mir is focused entirely on operations in India and the manner in which he successfully carried out a flaw less 26/11 attack has only made the ISI more determined to retain him for India operations.Mir may be lying low where the India angle is concerned now due to obvious reasons since the heat is very high on him. However it does not appear that the ISI will sacrifice his expertise with India only because of this.

Investigations which continue unabated by the NIA into the Headley angle have revealed that he kept in touch with Mir at all times. Further what is even more dangerous is that Mir has in his possession the tapes and information provided by Headley which have not been attacked. There is a pile load of information that Mir has access to thanks to Headley an investigating officer said. This is always a dangerous situation for India and from the 26/11 attack what we have seen is that Mir is capable of undertaking spectacular attacks and that too with a lot of precision.

The IB says that a lot is at stake as long as Mir continues to wander around in the open. He is very much in Pakistan since the ISI would not want him out of their sight since appears to be more important than any of the leaders that the Lashkar has today. They would want full utility out of him and are aware that not only can he continue being a headache for India, but he is also on his way of setting up a global network which is of extreme importance both for the Lashkar as well as the ISI.

Need to win the hearts of Kashmiris

Kashmir is on the boil and this time the issue is the Ekta Yatra. While the Bharatiya Janata Party is hell bent on hoisting our national flag at Lal Chowk, the ruling Congress appears to be doing everything under the sun to prevent such an event.
S A R Geelani, Professor in the Delhi university who was acquiited in the Parliament attack case four years back has been closely associated with the Kashmir issue. He has been on an India wide tour recently to portray the real picture of the crisis in Kashmir. He feels that the Bharatiya Janata Party is wrong in its actions and instead of trying to win over the hearts of the people, they are only trying to show that they want to rule over them. In this interview with, Geelani points out that the BJP is making an issue because they do not have an issue and also the Hindus in Jammu are against the flag hoisting proposed by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

What are your thoughts on the BJP wanting to hoist the National Flag at Lal Chowk?
I am against this since I feel it is not necessary and a controversy is unnecessarily being raked up. This is something that could have been avoided.

Why according to you is the BJP raking up this issue?
I think the whole issue is that the BJP does not have an issue. There are so many other issues to deal with but they seem to be holding on to this one as they want to rake up public sentiments. The BJP likes to believe that they are nationalists. A B Vajpayee had initiated a peace process and these people are disrupting it. The fact is that they are out of power and do not have to worry about issues pertaining to development or relief works. Hence they have decided to rake up a public sentiment.

But why is there such a tussle regarding this issue?
The thing is that most Kashmiris do not consider themselves as part of India. They would not take it too kindly if the flag is hoisted over there.

So what do you think must be done then?
I think what the BJP should ideally be doing is winning the hearts of these people who do not consider themselves to be part of India. By going on the offensive and raking up public sentiments nothing can be gained or achieved.

Why ask the BJP alone to do that? What are the rest of them doing to reach out to these people?
We have tried to reach out to the people. This is a long process and have been going around telling people about this problem. The BJP, instead of trying to move forward and address the real issue are spoiling everything by raking up such issues.

It is the National Flag we are speaking about. What is wrong in hoisting it?
There is nothing wrong. But why pick on places where there is a dispute. Let us try and win their hearts first so that they themselves come forward and do the same. The Flag will be hoisted in Srinagar anyways on January 26th. Is that not enough?

What happened the last time the BJP hoisted the flag in 1992?
They did it many years back. But that was not an event at all. Did it involve the people? No it did not. It only annoyed the people. Moreover there were no people with Murali Manohar Joshi at that time. There were just security personnel protecting him.

There is so much hype around this issue. Do you think that the Congress should have so aggressively blocked the BJP?
There should not have been any sort of hype. The BJP continues to challenge the people of Kashmir. The Congress could have buried this issue quietly and dealt with the BJP in a better manner. The whole issue could have been sorted out in New Delhi itself and should not have reached Kashmir in the first place.

The BJP seems to have a lot of support. You cannot deny that.
They are sure whipping up a national sentiment. However within Kashmir there is no support what so ever. The people of Kashmir did not need this issue at the moment since there are a lot of other problems on hand they have to deal with. Look at Jammu for instance. All the Hindus there too do not want this issue since they feel that it will not serve their needs. The people you see there supporting the BJP are all from outside and no person within the state supports the BJP on this issue.

Are you worried that there will be some retaliation from terrorists in Pakistan if this event goes on?
This is not about that at all. This is about alienating the people of Kashmir. If this event goes on then the people of Kashmir will feel alienated.

What exactly do the people of Kashmir want? It seems impossible to please them.
We need to win over their hearts. It is a process but it can happen. No one should impose things on them. They should not be given a feeling that they are ruled over. However what the BJP is doing now only shows that they want to rule over the people of Kashmir.

How has the handling by the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir been?
He has done nothing. Instead he has added to the hype that this issue is already getting for no rhyme or reason. He should have been in the state and handled the issue. Instead he came to Delhi and made national headlines. This is not the way to deal with a situation like this. The Congress on the other hand seems to have some other agenda on hand. They wanted this issue to become big so that the focus is taken off their scams and they have managed to do that very well.