'Matter of concern that 26/11 attack perpetrators continue to enjoy freedom in Pakistan'
Demanding immediate action against the perpetrators of the 26/11 attack, India today said it was a matter of concern that even after eight years of the strike, they continue to enjoy freedom in Pakistan.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay's remarks came amid reports that Pakistan has rejected a re- investigation of the Mumbai attack case, and has again demanded "concrete" evidence against Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the strike.
Saeed, who carries a bounty of USD 10 million on his head for his role in terror activities announced by the US, and his four aides are under house arrest in Lahore since January 30 under Pakistan's anti-terrorism law.
The JUD chief was put under house arrest previously after the terror attack in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed by 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba men, but he was freed by a court in 2009 due to a lack of evidence against him.
"It is the Pakistan government's responsibility to bring to book the perpetrators and all those involved in conspiring, executing and mounting the 26/11 attack in which 166 people were killed.
"It is a matter of concern that well after eight years of the attack, the perpetrators continue to enjoy freedom in Pakistan and have not been brought to book," he said.
However, Baglay did not specifically comment on reports from Pakistan that it has told India that a re-investigation of the Mumbai attack case was "not possible" as the trial was at an advanced stage and demanded "concrete" evidence against Saeed, saying he was not aware of any such development.
Asked about an incident involving a Sikh girl in Pakistan who was forced to convert to Islam, he said such incidents are regularly reported from that country, and it was the responsibility of the government there to ensure safety and security of its nationals, including minorities.
He also said that India keeps raising with the Pakistan government such issues whenever these come to its attention.
Pak rejects India's demand for re-investigating 26/11 case
Pakistan has told India that a re- investigation of the Mumbai attack case was "not possible" as the trial was at an advanced stage and demanded "concrete" evidence against Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of 26/11 assault.
In reply to India's demand to re-investigate the 2008 case and put on trial Jamaat-ud Dawah chief Saeed, "Pakistan said the case has already been at an advanced stage," a senior interior ministry official, who is privy to the correspondence between the two countries over the matter, told PTI today.
"All proceedings (in the case) have been finalised except recording of 24 Indian witnesses' statements. At this stage, re-investigation is not possible. If India wants conclusion of the case, it should send its witnesses to Pakistan to record their statements," the official said.
On putting him on trial in that case, Pakistan has sought "concrete" evidence from India.
"India had only mentioned in its dossier that Ajmal Kasab (the lone gunman captured alive) had once met Hafiz Saeed.
Thousands of people meet him (Saeed). That doesn't prove anything. Pakistan is willing to try Saeed in the 26/11 case provided India gives us solid evidence against him in this regard," the official quoted Pakistan government's response.
He said Pakistan has also made it clear to India that the Mumbai attack case may not reach its logical conclusion without India's cooperation. "India must send its 24 witnesses to Pakistan to testify in the case for its conclusion," he said.
The trial in the Mumbai attack case has been pending for the past eight years. India has urged Pakistan to complete the trial at the earliest. It has said that enough evidence has been shared with Pakistan to prosecute the accused.
(With PTI inputs)