MUMBAI  - An eight-member Pakistani Judicial Commission on Tuesday began cross-examining witnesses in Mumbai over the 26/11 deadly attacks on the Indian city in 2008 amid tight security arrangements.
The Commission members arrived at 11 am at a magistrate court in the city to cross-examine witnesses of the attack, in connection with prosecution of seven suspects held in Pakistan for their alleged role in the crime. Police are keeping strict vigil in and around the court. A thick security blanket is in place at the premises. Also, a dog squad has been pressed into service, police sources said. The proceedings began with Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, representing the Indian government, introducing the members of the Commission to the court while emphasising on the need of evidence from Indian witnesses against the alleged conspirators, whose trial is pending in Pakistan.
The evidence is being recorded by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate PY Ladekar.
The Indian witnesses are: city magistrate, RV Sawant-Waghule, who recorded LeT member Ajmal Kasab’s confession, the chief investigating officer in 26/11 case Ramesh Mahale and two doctors who conducted the autopsy of the terrorists, who carried out the audacious attacks in November 2008, official sources said.
This is the Commission’s second visit to India. During the first visit, they had examined the same witnesses . Now, the witnesses are being cross-examined which was refused earlier.
The Commission includes two officers from anti-terrorism court of Pakistan, two defence witnesses and a new special public prosecutor, sources said.
The commission urged the Mumbai court to allow inspection of the dinghy and other articles used by the perpetrators.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate PY Ladekar, who presided over the proceedings, asked Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, representing the Centre, to produce the dinghy, its Yamaha engine, cell phones and Global Positioning System (GPS) before the panel on Wednesday.
When the court asked the prosecutor whether the government had any objection to producing these articles, Nikam replied in the negative and said those were lying at the Arthur Road Central prison and would be produced tomorrow.
At one stage, the court expressed its annoyance at why the Commission had not informed in advance about its plans to examine the articles used by the 10 LeT terrorists.
Two doctors—Shailesh Mohite and Ganesh Nithurkar—, who had conducted autopsies of nine terrorists, gave a brief account of the post-mortems performed by them.
“Mohite had informed the court that he had conducted post mortem on terrorist Abu Ismail, a companion of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, on November 26, 2008,” Nikam said.
The Pakistani Commission, the purpose of whose visit is to cross-examine the witnesses , chose not to do so.
Asked why they did not cross-examine the witnesses , who deposed before the panel Tuesday, Nikam said, “Perhaps they did not wish to dispute the injuries caused to terrorists and also did not want to disagree about the number of casualties.”
Two remaining witnesses— Magistrate RV Sawant-Waghule and the investigating officer Ramesh Mahale would depose on Wednesday.
A report submitted by the panel after its first visit was rejected by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan which termed it as illegal as the Commission was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses .
India later agreed to allow cross-examination of the witnesses so that their evidence can be used against those facing the ongoing trial in Pakistan.
The Commission includes four defence counsels, two public prosecutors and two officers from anti-terror court in Rawalpindi.