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India focuses on getting access to Headley

The government is likely to form two teams — of the Mumbai police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to question the Pakistan-born American Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative.

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India focuses on getting access  to Headley
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With the extradition of David Coleman Headley almost ruled out after his plea bargain with the US government, India is now focussing on getting access to him for interrogation. The government is likely to form two teams — of the Mumbai police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — to question the Pakistan-born American Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative.
According to sources, the teams will try to get information on the LeT’s anti-India operations, local support during Headley’s stay in
India and whether there are more terror recruits
like him.

Home minister P Chidambaram has already rejected the assumption that the plea bargain is a setback to India.
The plea bargain, he asserted, would provide India with an opportunity to question Headley as he has agreed before the US court to “fully and faithfully” testify to any foreign judicial proceedings held in America.

Headley, on Thursday, had pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the attacks in Mumbai after cutting the plea deal with the US.
Meanwhile, elaborating on the two teams, a senior Mumbai police official said, “There are two cases against Headley. While the cases of plotting attacks on the defence academy in Delhi and other parts of India are being investigated by the NIA, the Mumbai crime branch is investigating his role in the 26/11 terror attacks.’’

As far as the Mumbai attack case is concerned, the official added, the emphasis will be on the LeT’s India game plan, recruitment strategy and local support base.

 The Mumbai police had already given a Letter Rogatory (LR) to the court concerned in the US to seek permission to question Headley. “We are waiting for the guilty plea copy which needs to be scrutinised. Only after questioning Headley can we comment on whether a supplementary chargesheet could be filed against him,” said a police official.

But the Union home ministry has not entirely given up on getting Headley extradited. It is studying the documents pertaining to plea bargain proceedings to find loopholes which they wish to exploit in future. “Headley is liable to be extradited for the 12 offences to which he has pleaded guilty. We can issue a separate chargesheet on issues other than these offences,” a home ministry source said.

Under the plea agreement, Headley cannot be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark. Interestingly, the Danish authorities have already interrogated Headley in December 2009 immediately after the Mumbai attack under a mutual agreement between the two countries.
 

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