David Headley was recently arraigned as an accused in the 26/11 trial being conducted in Mumbai. He was also recently summoned to appear before the TADA court on Dec 10. This is a development no doubt, but is there anything to cheer about?
The attacks of 26/11 are almost 7 years old. One year after the attacks, India found that there was indeed a man called David Headley who existed and that was thanks to the investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
India conducted no independent investigation and relied on the FBI files to build its case. All the evidence that India has on Headley is just a photocopy of what is already available with the FBI.
A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) did visit the US to take Headley's statement, but came back with the same details that the FBI already had.
What the Indian investigators especially the Mumbai police did was rest on the FBI case and conducted no independent investigation which was also pointed out by the court recently.
What India did not probe?
David Headley after his arrest in the US immediately entered into a plea bargain deal. As per this deal he could not be awarded a death sentence or extradited to India or Denmark, the two countries which have cases against him.
This really was a dampener for India as the investigations against him became extremely restricted.
However, nothing prevented India from probing the other aspects relating to David Headley. There were several persons he was in touch with when he entered India.
He made friends with the who is who of Mumbai and went about his business. Indian investigators have really not gone too deep into the fact whether these persons were helping Headley knowingly or unknowingly.
Further there were lapses galore at the immigration which in fact Headley enter and exit India without being noticed. When he landed for the first time in India, Sajid Mir a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative had sent a person to receive him at the airport.
This aspect too remains a mystery as the police never bothered probing it.
From Mumbai he even visited Pune where he is said to have surveyed targets. The probe agencies never reached there and his local contacts in Pune remain a mystery.
This brings us to the very important question and that is what exactly did India do where Headley was concerned? Almost nothing.
What about Tawwahur Rana?
Tawwahur Rana an accomplice of Headley was another name that cropped up during the investigations in the US. While the courts in US found no real evidence against him, Indian investigators claimed all along that there was a strong case against him.
There was no plea bargain deal where Rana was concerned.
Leave alone an extradition request, India has not formally asked the US permission to even question him. There are no real forthcoming answers from Indian investigators where Rana is concerned. As per the case files, he is the one who arranged for the travel documents for Headley.
Rana had allegedly used a contact in India to arrange for travel documents so that Headley could visit India.
The investigators in India have never got to the depth of these details and his name just has a passing mention in the Indian case files.
These are questions that one never gets an answer to and only becomes a subject matter of debate on every anniversary of the 26/11 attack.