Mumbai Police Crime Branch to probe 26/11 terror strikes

December 24th, 2008 - 10:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNagpur, Dec 24 (IANS) Investigation of the Nov 26 Mumbai terrorist strikes, including the one on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), has been entrusted to the Crime Branch of Mumbai Police, Maharashtra Home Minister Jayant Patil told the state assembly Wednesday.”I signed the order to this effect yesterday (Tuesday),” Patil said while replying to the resumed debate on the law and order situation in the state.

While the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the state police was investigating the terror attack on the CST, the city’s main suburban train terminus, the Crime Branch was handling investigation into all other strikes, including those on the Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi-Trident hotels and the Nariman House in south Mumbai.

Interrogation of Muhammed Ajmal Amir alias Kasab, the only terrorist caught alive, was also being conducted by the Crime Branch.

Though the terrorists struck at 10 major points in Mumbai, it has been decided to treat all the attacks as one crime for the purpose of investigation and prosecution, the home minister explained.

“That being so, it was thought that the transfer of the CST strike investigation from the ATS to the Crime Branch would make the entire process convenient,” he added.

However, senior Bharatiya Janata Party member Gopinath Munde, who was the state’s home minister during the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government (1995-99), disagreed.

“The ATS is meant for combating terrorism and handling investigation of terror-related cases. The government, by withdrawing the agency from the purview of investigations, defeated the very purpose of existence of the agency,” Munde said.

The ATS, however, is headless, as its chief Hemant Karkare was killed by the terrorists. His predecessor K.P. Raghuvanshi has been given the assignment again, but he is yet to take charge.

Moreover, the Crime Branch is better equipped to handle the vast investigation in terms of specialist manpower and investigation apparatus compared to the ATS, which operates at the state level with only a skeletal staff and machinery at its disposal, experts said.

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