The issue of 17 pending references under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), including that on Lashkar-e-Toiba financier Arif Qasmani, was once again raised by India during a meeting between Home Minister Rajnath Singh and US Ambassador to India Richard Verma on Friday, sources said.
In March this year, National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief Sharad Kumar visited the US to pursue these pending requests, fuelling speculation that the agency was exploring the option of reopening the probe in the Samjhauta Express blast case to look into the role of the LeT.
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In 2009, US had shared intelligence that mentioned known LeT financier Qasmani as having funded the attack. The US Treasury Department designated Qasmani a global terrorist in June 2009. This was followed by the UN placing Qasmani under the 1267 al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctions list.
“In return for Qasmani’s support, Al-Qaeda provided him with operatives to support the July 2006 train bombing in Mumbai, India, and the February 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing in Panipat, India. Qasmani also facilitated the movement of Al-Qaeda personnel out of Afghanistan in 2001,” states the UN’s narrative summary, justifying the action against Qasmani. The US justification is similar.
However, laying to rest speculation, Kumar told The Indian Express earlier this month that the NIA was not investigating the case any further, and that the Qasmani angle is not strong. According to the NIA, it had first sent a request under MLAT to the US regarding Qasmani in 2011. The move to pursue it again, according to the NIA chief, was because the defence could raise the issue during the trial.