Jundal-Kasab: The face-off
Yesterday there was an interesting aspect to the 26/11 probe when both Ajmal Kasab and Abu Jundal were brought face to face. It was an interesting exercise and an important one since the investigators have to verify both sides of the story to make their case even stronger.
Now the question is that whether the two involved in the horrific 26/11 case were made to sit in front of each other all the time and were asked to get into a confrontation? The answer is no. The normal mandate that is taught in the National police academy in such cases where two accused have to be brought face to face is that barring the identification, the rest of the questions will not be asked face to face due to various legal reasons.
Sources privy to this part of the investigation tell rediff.com that both the accused are brought face to face briefly at first. A set of questions were asked regarding the identification of both the persons. Kasab had in fact said that Jundal was the man who tutored them in Hindi which meant that he had seen Jundal at the time the attack was being planned. On seeing him the first question that the investigator asked Kasab was whether he was the same man that he was speaking about. The same question was then asked to Jundal whether he had trained Kasab when the operation was being planned. Both the persons identified each other and told the police that they were in the know of each other.
This was the first of the hurdles that was crossed as the identification was complete. However the next round of the investigation took place and both the accused persons were kept in two separate rooms. The same set of questions were asked twice. Kasab was asked a question and this would be verified by asking Jundal the same question.
The investigators prior to this exercise had two sides of a story- one by Kasab and the other by Jundal. It was clear that the extent of the knowledge which Kasab had on him was only pertaining to the training for the operation. Both the persons confirmed the fact that there was a training programme in Pakistan and Jundal had met Kasab during this time. The other part of the confirmation that the police got from this exercise was that there were in all 14 persons chosen for this operation, but four of them had dropped out. The next lurking doubt that was cleared as part of this exercise was that there were only ten terrorists for this entire operation who finally carried out the attack.
Investigators say that they were not expecting the entire two sides of the story to be the same. There were some clarifications that were needed on the probe in order to get a more realistic picture of what had transpired.
During such an exercise the police are extremely careful and would ensure that the two persons are not face to face listening in to what each has to say through the questioning. There are legal hurdles which can arise out of such a situation. This is a big operation and Kasab was a foot soldier while Jundal was part of the top rank. Hence Kasab has a vague idea of the ideology behind this attack while Jundal has a better picture of the same. Although the questions pertaining to the ideology are asked to both the accused, they would still ensure that each others answers are not known to both the persons. A senior officer explains, “ there are bound to be contradictions and more often than not the accused persons pick it up and inform their lawyers about it which is used in the court to seek an acquittal. It is impossible that two versions will be exactly the same in such an investigation and there are bound to be contradictions.
The officer quotes an incident in Kashmir when such an exercise was carried out. Some of the foot soldiers who were interrogated told the officers of the Intelligence Bureau that they had come to Kashmir not to fight against India. They had come here to defend Islam, but when they landed here they saw the Mosques and heard the loud speakers which made them feel that Islam was not under threat. But they still went ahead with the operation since they were told to do so. However the version of the mastermind was entirely different and he had to say that the war was against India. This amounts to a contradiction, but not a fatal one in the mind of the investigator. The case is similar in the Kasab-Jundal case. Kasab was made a promise of a 100 virgins and money and he carried out the instructions. However Jundal knew all along this was a war against India.
During the exercise conducted yesterday, Kasab narrated all that he had said and to ensure that this perception does not get clouded they asked Jundal the same things, which he had agreed to. However the other issue which they got some clarity was regarding the control room. Jundal handled those in the Nariman House and Kasab was not part of this. Hence Kasab’s information regarding Jundal ended with the part where he had tutored them in Hindi before the attack.
The biggest plus point for investigators after this exercise was that they were able to ascertain that Jundal and Kasab were together during the preparatory stages in Pakistan. Both were together when the operation was being launched also.
However the points of disagreement would the issue regarding the objective. Although it cannot be termed as a disagreement it is something that they could not verify thoroughly since Kasab was never in the loop regarding the ideology and objectives behind the attack.
During this operation officers do not put them face to face and let them argue on points. It is a straight forward exercise and a set of nearly 50 to 60 questions based on what each one has said was asked. Officers say that the other reason for not allowing each of them to listen to each other is because they would not want either of them to fine tune their answers and make their position stronger based on a contradiction. Moreover in a set of 60 questions there were around 15 contradictions, but all of them were not substantial in nature.