Cops goof up in 26/11 probe

In a move that exposed the carelessness of a key Mumbai Police investigating officer,the Crime Branch today retracted an attempt to link the 26/11 terror attacks...

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published:January 4, 2009 4:05 am

After linking the terror strike to Indian Mujahideen,police retract in MCOCA court,saying it was an ‘internal error by a well-meaning officer’

In a move that exposed the carelessness of a key Mumbai Police investigating officer,the Crime Branch today retracted an attempt to link the 26/11 terror attacks to the Indian Mujahideen men blamed for the Delhi and Ahmedabad blasts last year,barely 24 hours after the process was set in motion in a MCOCA court. The explanation: an “internal error by a well-meaning officer”.

On Friday,a remand application filed by the Crime Branch before the special MCOCA judge sought further judicial custody of the 20 Indian Mujahideen operatives arrested in connection with the Bangalore,Delhi and Gujarat blasts,saying they needed to be questioned in connection with 26/11. Justifying the need for such remand,the application said that one of the 26/11 terrorists had demanded the release of these Indian Mujahideen men from custody in an interview to a TV channel during the three-day siege.

“The terrorists who died in the recent incidents at Taj Hotel,Oberoi Hotel,Nariman House,CST,Cama Hospital and Girgaum Chowpatty,while talking to India TV channel,said that they were also Mujahideens and demanded to set free the Indian Mujahideen activists who are the same accused arrested in this case,” said the application drafted by Assistant Commissioner of Police Ashok Duraphe. “Taking into consideration this demand,the possibility of their link to the said recent incident needs to be further probed.”

But with the authenticity of the telephone interview itself yet to be established and no specific reference to the Indian Mujahideen available in the alleged conversation with the terrorist said to have been holed up in one of the two five-star hotels under siege,the Crime Branch top brass did a swift turnaround as soon as it heard of the remand application. They said it was an “internal error” on the part of the investigating officer who had filed the application without consulting his superiors.

“The corrigendum regarding our earlier application has been filed before the Special MCOCA court today,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria. Another senior Crime Branch officer,who spoke on condition of anonymity,said that the investigating officer of the Indian Mujahideen case has clarified to the court that he has nothing to do with the investigations in the 26/11 case,and that he had filed the relevant part of the application on hearsay.

“He has retracted that part of the application,and has apologised to the court for the error. The officer concerned is a well-meaning officer and there is no suspicion of any mischief against him. It was simply an error,and an explanation will be sought from him,” the officer added.

While six of the Indian Mujahideen operatives are in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail,the rest are in the custody of the Gujarat police in connection with the Ahmedabad and Surat terror cases. The Crime Branch on Friday sought an extension of 60 days to file a chargesheet against them since further investigations needed to be conducted,which was granted by the court.

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