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India seeks access to Headley, Rana

Washington, May 22 (IANS) India has sought from the US access to Pakistani-American 26/11 Mumbai terror attack convict David Headley and his accomplice Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana, both found guilty of supporting Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Indian Home Minsiter Sushilkumar Shinde during a meeting with US Attorney General Eric Holder here Tuesday is reported to have raised the issue of access to the LeT operative Headley, who has admitted to scouting targets for the Mumbai attack, and Rana, who provided him the cover of his immigration business. Shinde is now on a visit to the US.

While there was no official word from either side on discussions related to Headley and Rana, who were sentenced to 35 years and 14 years respectively by a Chicago court for their roles in the Mumbai attack and an abortive attack on a Danish newspaper, the issue is said to have come up prominently.

An indirect reference was made to the issue in an official Indian statement, saying, “Shinde and Holder agreed that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Justice should work together institutionally” to resolve pending issues relating to among others extradition.

Such cooperation was intended “to ensure the best possible outcomes within the laws of the two countries, to address pending issues relating to extradition, execution of Letters Rogatory and Red Corner Notices, as well as other areas of cooperation in law enforcement, counter terrorism and judicial processes”, the statement said.

Though India did get access to Headley in the run-up to his trial, the US has not given New Delhi access to Rana, Headley’s US-based wife Shazia, his girlfriend Portia Peter and another female friend that could help unravel the full dimensions of the terror attack.

In Shinde’s separate meeting with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Robert Muller, “the two sides reviewed areas of cooperation and issues of interest”, the embassy said.

“The FBI and Indian agencies have remained in close contact, and it was agreed that the process of inter-agency cooperation would be developed further, in this context.”

Shinde and senior members of his delegation later left for a day-long visit to Boston, where he is expected to have a detailed briefing on the successful investigation of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing.

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