The prosecutor in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case on Wednesday said former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria had denied claiming that the Lashkar-e-Taiba planned to pin the blame for the terror strike on Hindutva extremists, NDTV reported.

The retired police official made the sensational claim in his memoir Let Me Say It Now, which has sparked a political row. According to media reports, Maria wrote that terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who was executed after being convicted in the case, would have died as Bengaluru resident Samir Dinesh Chaudhari, with a “red thread tied around his wrist”, had Lashkar-e-Taiba succeeded in its plans. “If everything went according to plan, Kasab would have died as Chaudhari and the media would have blamed ‘Hindu terrorists’ for the attack,” Maria added in the book. “There would have been screaming headlines in newspapers claiming how Hindu terrorists had attacked Mumbai. Over the top TV journalists would have made a beeline for Bengaluru to interview his family and neighbours. But alas, it had not worked that way and here he was, Ajmal Amir Kasab of Faridkot in Pakistan.”

However, Ujjwal Nikam, who secured Kasab’s conviction, clarified that Maria did not categorically state that the identity cards recovered from the terrorists were a ploy to portray the attack as “Hindu terror”, Hindustan Times reported. “He [Maria] told me this himself,” NDTV quoted the prosecutor as saying. “He was trying to suggest the media could have reported it like that. Maria has not said anywhere directly that the Lashkar-e-Taiba was trying to portray this as Hindu terror.”

Nikam said the identity cards found in possession of Kasab and the other terrorists were fake. He added that it cannot be established why Pakistan gave the attackers Indian identity cards. “I do not know what was the plan of ISI,” ANI quoted the prosecutor as saying. “After the 26/11 terror attacks, 10 ID cards were produced in the court in which one was of Kasab and others belonged to nine other attackers who were killed.”

In its chargesheet, the Mumbai Police had said the terrorists had been found with “fake duplicate identity cards of Indian colleges to mislead the investigating agencies as to their true identities and nationality”. While Kasab was listed as Bengaluru resident Samir Choudhary, a student of “Arunodaya Degree And P.G. College”, most of the others were listed as Hyderabad residents. One of the other terrorists was listed as a resident of New Delhi, and another as a resident of Ahmedabad.

Asked about the role of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, Nikam said it was a matter of making inferences. “But I don’t make an estimation as I am a student of law,” he added. “It is true that Pakistan ISI’s connection with LeT is established in the 26/11 terror attack. This was also cleared with David Headley’s statements. Even Kasab said that some Army personnel were present in his training camp but it cannot be established what Pakistan wants to show.”

After Maria’s comments about Lashkar-Taiba’s suspected plans, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the former police officer would be summoned, and his claims would be probed if required.

On Wednesday, the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party approached Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, seeking a re-investigation into the terror attack, The Indian Express reported. In a two-page letter to Thackeray Atul Bhatkhalkar, a saffron party legislator, targetted the Congress. “Also, following the attack, a Congress leader, along with others subscribing to a certain ideology, had campaigned to portray the 26/11 attack as the handiwork of Hindu terrorists,” he alleged. This was a reference to Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who had blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh after the 26/11 attack. “In this backdrop, the entire matter should be thoroughly re-investigated.”

Union Minister Piyush Goyal also accused the Congress of plotting “a conspiracy” to project “Hindu terror”. “Why is Maria speaking now?” he asked. “As police chief he should have spoken then and taken action. We condemn the Congress for trying to spin a web of lies. Terrorists have no religion.”

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