Pak panel to visit Mumbai after Sept 19

A Pakistani judicial commission, which will cross-examine witnesses in the Mumbai terror attacks case, is likely to visit Mumbai after September 19. India had suggested postponement of its arrival due to the ongoing festivities.

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters that due to Ganesh festival, New Delhi has requested Islamabad to postpone the visit by a week.
It is one of the biggest festivals in Maharashtra and the commission is scheduled to visit Mumbai to record statements of the witnesses.

Initially, the team was supposed to visit Mumbai on September 7, but it was later postponed by four days. India has already given a written assurance to Pakistan that the commission will be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses in Mumbai.

The commission will cross-examine metropolitan magistrate Rama Vijay Sawant-Waghule, who recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, chief investigating officer Ramesh Mahale and two doctors of the state-run Nair and J J hospitals, who had conducted autopsies of nine terrorists killed during the attacks.

Pakistan has charged seven terrorists, including Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, with planning, financing and executing the attacks in November 2008. A total of 166 people were killed.

Findings of the first Pakistani judicial commission, which visited India in March 2012, were rejected by an anti- terrorism court in Pakistan, as the panel members were not allowed to cross-examine Indian witnesses.

India has been demanding an early conclusion of the trial as it believes that Islamabad was not doing enough to bring the perpetrators to book.

The agreement on the visit of the second Pakistani judicial commission to Mumbai was finalised on December 25 last year in Islamabad, following several rounds of discussions between a four-member Indian delegation and Pakistani officials.
India expects that Islamabad will grant an Indian judicial team access to the Pakistani accused after the visit of the second commission.

Meanwhile, in response to a question on Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial candidature, Shinde said parties are free to announce any “Tom, Dick or Harry” as their nominees for the top post before the 2014 elections.

“Koi bhi Ramu, Shamu aur Damu ka naam le sakte hain (anyone can name any Tom, Dick or Harry),” he said.

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