26/11 co-conspirator David Coleman Headleys recce of the Chhabad House and Osho Ashram in Pune during his stay in the city in July 2008 and March 2009 is known,but The Indian Express has now learnt that the LeT operative had also visited the Ghorpadi Railway Locomotive Diesel Shed during his stay in the city. The loco shed is a place where a spark could blow up thousands of litres of stored diesel and a bomb going off there has the potential of causing huge devastation in the surrounding areas of Koregaon Park,Ghorpadi and the Southern Command that has important military establishments.
Although exact details like the date of his visit were unavailable,it was confirmed that security rules were changed at the loco shed after Headleys visit became known.
Confirming this,Abdur Rehman,SP,Government Railway Police(GRP),said it was the Pune team of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) that first got information about the loco shed visit.
The Pune ATS received the lead information regarding Headleys visit to the loco shed. We do not have exact dates,but he had been inside the shed. In fact,RPF and ATS conducted a joint inspection of the loco shed,after which security around the shed was stepped up. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been laid down and precautionary measures have been put in place to avoid any such events in future, said Rehman.
The loco shed is about 400-500 metres from Koregaon Park. The shed has a huge amount of diesel,the prime mover of railways,stored in underground as well as overhead tanks. Besides,locomotives loading/ unloading diesel frequent the shed. No one is allowed to visit it without prior written permission from the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) or the General Manager (GM) office.
Headley,it seemed,had a letter from the Railways granting him permission. He came with a written permission letter. He went inside,took photographs and went back. Security at the shed has been stepped up since, said Rehman.
When contacted,the DRM said he was not aware of the letter as he was appointed only six months ago.
S P Atri,police inspector,RPF,who was posted at the loco shed gate when Headley is believed to have visited the place,said,I do not know the exact date,but our staff had seen a foreigner taking photographs. We stopped him and asked for an authorization letter.
He did not have any,so we sent him back to obtain permission. It was only through ATS that we got to know later that he was Headley. We do not have any records of his visit, said Yadav. He refused to comment on whether the staff had confiscated Headleys camera or deleted the photographs he had taken.
ATS officials were unavailable for comment.