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Clarify matters on Headley, opposition urges PM

December 17, 2009

The Left and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) found common cause in the Rayja Sabha Thursday when it asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarify matters on the US’ cooperation in unravelling the alleged involvement of Pakistan American David Coleman Headley in the 26/11 Mumbai terror carnage.

“I am sure the government will respond at the appropriate time,” Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari ruled as the prime minister, who was present in the house, gently nodded his head.

It was initially thought that the government response would come Thursday itself as External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna remained seated in the house when zero hour began, as did Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao in the officials’ gallery.

However, 15 minutes into zero hour, Krishna left the house and Rao also departed.

Speaking for the second time in the house on the Headley saga, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) member Brinda Karat said: “This is an issue that concerns all Indian citizens. I would request the prime minister for a clarification on what we are doing to take up the issue with the US.”

Referring to reports that Headley’s visa papers had gone missing from the Indian consulate in Chicago, Karat said: “Yesterday, the foreign secretary gave a clean chit to the consulate, while the home ministry expressed its concern (on the missing papers). Are there any differences on this between the ministries of external affairs and home?”

Karat had earlier raised the Headley issue on Tuesday.

Raising the issue as soon as the house assembled, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley (Bharatiya Janata Party) sought the response of the government on the Headley episode.

“This case is getting curiouser and curiouser. For the last one year, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been prosecuting the (26/11) accused. They had not been able to get to him (Headley) all this time. Now, we are suddenly told that he was one of the masterminds.

“Whether he is a (US) agent or double agent, what is the extent of cooperation we are receiving from the US (on unravelling Headley’s antecedents)?” Jaitley asked.

“Now, there is the case of the missing visa papers. It is creating serious doubts. Was the information the US had on Headley made available to us,” he wondered.

He too asked if there were differences between the ministries of external affairs and home on the issue.

Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party, who also spoke on the occasion, demanded that Headley be handed over to Indian investigators.

“The US was given full access to (Ajmal Amir) Kasab (the lone gunman captured during the Mumbai attacks). Headley should be handed over to us,” Amar Singh maintained.

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