Azam Cheema, the mastermind of the attack like all other Pakistani terrorists managed to conspire, remote control and execute a major attack on Indian soil knowing fully well that the long arm of the Indian law will never get to him.
Cheema, one of the deadliest operatives that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba has ever produced is perched in the comfort of his home at Bhawalpur and his only task today is to advise Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi on operational matters pertaining to Kashmir.
Cheema who plotted the 7/11 attacks had managed to set up a battery of youth to strike at the commercial capital of India.
12 convicted, Cheema promoted:
What is ironic and very much on expected lines is that the mastermind in this case too got away. It was known from day one that the trial against him would either be conducted in-absentia or would not be conducted at all. He is an absconding accused in the case and even if the trial were to be conducted against him, it would be more symbolic, but the reality is that would have no consequence.
Cheema today lives in a palatial bungalow in Bhawalpur. He is an advisor to Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 26/11 attack.
In fact Cheema was promoted a year after the 7/11 blasts in 2006. From 2007 onwards he did not actively indulge in plotting strikes and his role in the Lashkar became more advisory.
It was also found that Cheema would sit in the comfort of his home and gather intelligence for the Lashkar. Today most of his intelligence tit bits are related to Kashmir.
Cheema's name had cropped up during the 26/11 attack as well. However there was never any direct role that Cheema played in the attack. He played the role of an advisor due to his knowledge of Mumbai as he had successfully carried out one of the worst attacks in the city.
Keeping Cheema away from the limelight is a deliberate ploy by the Lashkar and the ISI and this is done to ensure that the heat on him is reduced.
Symbolic trials and their significance:
Cheema is not the only one on the list of most wanted who underwent symbolic trials in India. Take for instance David Headley who everyone would acknowledge is more wanted in India than in the United States of America.
He was smart enough to enter into a plea bargain arrangement with the FBI as a result of which he avoided both a death sentence and extradition. A trial is on against him in an NIA court in Delhi and if convicted, he will not come to India and serve the sentence.
The other prominent names are Hafiz Saeed and Lakhvi. Both are wanted accused in the 26/11 attack.
Their names appear in the trial that is being conducted by the NIA court in Delhi. However if they are convicted, it would once again be symbolic, because Pakistan is not going to give them to face punishment in India.
Police officials say that it is quite demoralizing to conduct a trial against an accused who is absconding. We know fully well that what ever the punishment is the person in question is not going to serve a sentence.
If the person is in Pakistan, there is no chance that they would hand him over and history has been witness to this. However convictions only help in the proscribing of a terrorist.
The conviction would only add to the list prepared by the UN or the US against one person and it would ensure that the red alert or ban on such persons continues.