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Delhi chagrined: US refuses India access to Headley

by on 03/25/2010
Moin Ansari

  • The US on Tuesday said Washington had not yet taken any decision to give Indian investigators direct access to Headley.
  • Delhi takes this as a big snub. They had wanted to investigate Headley with regard to his involvement in the so called bombing of Mumbai.
  • Headley had been arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency and convicted on drug charges.
  • Headley had his 40 year old sentence commuted to 2 years and he worked for the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
  • Headley visiting both Pakistan and India many times. Indians claim that he was working for the CIA.
  • The US decision to not allow Delhi access Headley is raising suspicion in Delhi about what the US knows

Headley’s “confession” is seen by the Bharatis as a gimmick to keep him from being extradited to Delhi and to continue to keep him away from Bharati investigators.

Headley did not admit to all charges–only some–to avoid deportation.

The American handling of David Coleman Headley, a key conspirator in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, turned murkier on Tuesday as the Obama administration virtually went back on its word last Friday to give India access to interrogate him.

Signalling a U-turn in just four days, the US on Tuesday said Washington had not yet taken any decision to give Indian investigators direct access to Headley, now incarcerated in Chicago. In a statement issued here during the day, US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer said the US Department of Justice had not yet taken a decision to allow India access to Headley and that the US would work with the Indian government to chalk out the modalities of such cooperation.

Just four days ago, the US had shut the door on any possibility of extraditing Headley to India to face the 26/11 trial as the Federal Bureau of Investigation entered into a deal with him, known in legal parlance as “plea-bargain”.

While Headley confessed to the key role he played in the planning of the terrorist strike in Mumbai in November 2008, as also his extensive links with the Lashkar-e-Toiba, in return he escaped death penalty and a possible extradition to India. As part of the bargain, he was not even required to name his contacts in Pakistan who, too, were key figures in the Mumbai terror conspiracy.

However, the US had suggested that India could get access to Headley on US soil, though the nature of such access was far from clear. Hoping to quickly question Headley, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had immediately contacted US Attorney General Eric Holder over phone. Chidambaram’s impression from the conversation was that India would be able to obtain access to Headley to question him “in a properly constituted judicial proceeding”.

It appeared from the latest US stand that India may have to be just content with whatever information Washington decides to share with it. It hasn’t shared much so far. It hasn’t provided the identify of Pakistanis with whom Headley had interacted during his visits to that country to plan the Mumbai attacks.

The turnaround of sorts would be music to Pakistan’s ears. It has come just a day before Pakistan Army chief General Asfaq Pervez Kayani’s scheduled talks with the US leadership in Washington on Wednesday. Kayani was the ISI chief during the days Headley and his handlers in Pakistan planned the Mumbai attacks.

However, the National Investigation Agency would continue to prepare for quizzing Headley. Home Ministry officials on Tuesday initiated consultation with Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam on legal issues involving the questioning of Headley. US volte-face on Headley access, New Delhi, Mar 23, DH News Service:

Headley was a double agent of the CIA and had links to RAW–reading the entire transcript of the trial leaves many questions unanswered. It further implicates Bharati officialdom. That is why the US won’t deport him!

Here is a story from Times of India on the same subject


From → India

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