The stories out of Bharat (aka India) are not very clear about Mumbai. Conflicting news reports are still emanating out of Delhi which have shocked the media and given rise to speculation that the attackers were Bharati nationals. What began as simple rumors and fodder for conspiracy theorists have now become part of the mainstream media which is increasingly strident and curious about the unanswered questions.
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MUMBAI: The bodies of the nine 26/11 Pakistani terrorists – which nobody, including Pakistan, wanted – have been disposed of in a top secret operation.
Maharashtra home minister R.R. Patil said on Tuesday the bodies of the nine terrorists, killed by Indian special forces during their three-day bloody siege of landmark areas of the city in November 2008, were quietly buried in January this year.
“I did not see any need to keep preserving the bodies for a longer time. So, we took the decision to bury the bodies,” he told the stunned members of the state legislative council here on Tuesday evening.
In view of the sensitivity of the issue and the fact that many Muslim organisations had opposed giving the dead terrorists a burial place anywhere in India, Patil said adequate care was taken to ensure that the matter remained a secret and the information did not leak out.
However, he did not mention the date on which the burial took place, or even the place where the bodies were buried.
Patil added that the decision was also prompted by the huge ongoing expense incurred on preserving the bodies in an air-conditioned room of the morgue in Sir J.J. Hospital, round-the-clock security deployed at the site, and other aspects.
For nearly 15 months, there were no claimants for the bodies of the nine terrorists who were killed by the security forces during the Nov 26-29, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks. Only one of their associates – Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab – was captured alive and he is currently awaiting judgment in the 26/11 trial.
The 10 gunmen killed 166 people in a series of coordinated attacks. Kasab remains lodged in the high-security Arthur Road Central Jail in an oval-shaped cell, and Special Judge M.L. Tahaliyani will deliver the verdict May 3.
Keeping the terrorists’ bodies for such a long time was considered without a precedent anywhere in the world. Kasab was the only one captured alive during the terrorist strikes that targeted two luxury hotels, the city’s main, historic train terminal, a hospital and a Jewish centre of worship.
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Early last year, the Muslim Council had flatly refused to allow the burial of the nine killed terrorists in the Marine Lines Bada Qabrastan cemetery. The council had also sent a message to all cemeteries in India that none of the terrorists’ bodies should be buried on Indian soil.
The influential Muslim Jama Masjid Trust, which runs the 7.5-acre Bada Qabrastan in south Mumbai, said it would also not permit the burial of the gunmen “because they were not true followers of Islam”. Since then both the Maharashtra government and police have been caught in a bind over what to do with the bodies. “We had informed the Pakistan government about the bodies long ago. However, there was no response from them so far,” Special Public Prosecutor for the 26/11 terror attacks trial Ujjwal Nikam had said in November 2009.
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Some outfits had even suggested after the terror siege that the bodies be dumped at the premises of the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi or thrown into the Arabian Sea. Shortly after the attackers were gunned down, their bodies were brought to the hospital where a team of doctors had performed autopsies and filed post-mortem reports with police.
Thereafter, the bodies had been embalmed and shifted to a separate room in the morgue, which was permanently sealed with round-the-clock security and temperatures maintained at a steady four degrees Celsius to prevent decomposition.
The room was out of bounds for all, barring those who had the relevant clearance from police headquarters.
Among those who viewed the bodies were the investigators from Mumbai Police, the state and central agencies, and representatives of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Many have suspected that Bharat has been hiding the facts of Mumbai. How could the gunmen enter the Taj Hotel when the front entrances are all cordoned off with metal detectors. The Taj owners clearly stated an inside job, where the militants were shown into the hotel through a maze of back doors and service entrances. Mr. Kasab the only surviving gunaman has stated that he went to Mumbai on a train and was being used as a patsy. Many of the witnesses were unable to recognize him a police lineup.
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Then there is the whole episode of Mr. Kasab and the miracle of surviving a perilous journey on a red dinghy that was able to evade the most fortified border in the world–hoodwinking the Indian Navy, the Coast Guards, and plethora of animal named forces like the Black panthers. Analysts also wonder who armed to the teeth militants were able to hail cabs and reach downtown Mumbai carrying AK-47s, RPGs, and ammunition.
It is also been alleged that all the other gunmen were Indians and Bharat has hidden their identity and their bodies to dowlplay the local angle of the mayhem in Mumbai.