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Kasab Wants Rane As Witness, 26/11 Court Rejects Plea

PTI 27 Jan 2010, 20:32:21 IST

Seeking to delay the 26/11 trial, Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab today sought to call Maharashtra minister Narayan Rane as a defence witness but the special court rejected the plea terming his request as "irrelevant" and concluded the recording of evidence.  Special court judge M L Tahaliyani adjourned the case to February 20 for arguments.

Kasab made the request through his lawyer K P Pawar, who pleaded that Revenue Minister Rane be examined as defence witness as he had made a public statement that some local elements had helped the 26/11 terrorists. Soon after the carnage, Rane said he knew some politicians who had provided monetary and logistical support to terrorists.  However, when Solapur-based Purushottam Barde filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court seeking an inquiry into his statement, Rane, in an affidavit said that he had simply referred to N N Vohra committee's report on criminalisation of politics and not talked about individuals.

Pawar contended that since Kasab was charged with participating in the conspiracy, Rane's evidence would throw light on people involved in planning and executing the attacks.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam opposed Kasab's plea saying Rane's deposition was not relevant to the case.

The judge felt that Rane's deposition would not help Kasab in any way and would be a waste of time.

Outside the court, Nikam said Kasab was fond of enacting drama to delay the trial.  "On Monday, he said he would like to examine Pakistani officers as defence witnesses but today he refrained from talking about them and instead insisted on examining Rane.

This is nothing but a new stunt to delay the trial," said Nikam.  After a series of flip-flops, the 22-year-old lone surviving Pakistani gunman of the 26/11 outrage, had on January 25 told the special court that he wanted to be tried by an international court, a plea which was promptly rejected by Tahaliyani.  In another development, co-accused Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed told the court that they did not wish to examine any defence witness.

Sabauddin, who is charged with providing maps of 26/11 targets to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), said he had been falsely implicated in the case by Mumbai police.  Replying to questions put to him by the judge on evidence adduced against him, Sabauddin alleged that he was not produced before a court within 24 hours of his arrest in this case on December 17, 2008 by the Mumbai police amounting to violation of his fundamental rights.  The judge advised him to register his grievance before the magistrate concerned before whom he was produced for remand or the National Human Rights Commission. PTI