Washington, May 22 (PTI): India has sought access from the US to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack convict David Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Rana – both of whom were sentenced by a Chicago court after being found guilty of terrorism charges.
While there was no official word from either side on the issues discussed in particular those with reference to Headley and Rana, officials said it was prominently raised by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde during his meeting with US Attorney General Eric Holder here.
“Shinde and Holder agreed that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Justice should work together institutionally, so as to ensure the best possible outcomes within the laws of the two countries, to address pending issues relating to extradition, execution of Letters Rogatory and Red Corner Notices, as well as other areas of cooperation in law enforcement, counter terrorism and judicial processes,” an official Indian statement said.
Though India got access to Headley, who carried out a recce of the 26/11 targets for the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, the US has not given any opportunity to question Pakistani-Canadian Rana, Headley’s US-based wife Shazia, his girlfriend Portia Peter and another female friend.
Indian investigators believe that if they could further quiz Headley and others, many hidden information could come into light.
The Home Minister also met FBI Director Muller during which the two sides reviewed areas of cooperation and issues of mutual interest.
The FBI and Indian agencies have remained in close contact, and it was agreed that the process of inter-agency cooperation would be developed further, in this context.
After the completion of his official meetings, Shinde and senior members of his delegation left for a day-visit to Boston, during which he is expected to have a detailed briefing of the investigations that resulted in the successful investigation of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing.
Earlier, Shinde led a high-power Indian delegation for the second India-US Homeland Security Dialogue, which was co-chaired by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
In a joint statement, Shinde and Napolitano called upon all nations to take effective steps to work toward eliminating sanctuaries and infrastructure that supports terrorism, and to increase efforts to counter violent extremism.
“Today, threats transcend national borders, impacting the security and economic prosperity of the entire international community. We will continue to collaborate with India to develop a global approach to the challenges and threats we all face,” Napolitano said after the conclusion of the talks.
During the meeting, Napolitano and Shinde reaffirmed the commitment of the two nations to work cooperatively on law enforcement issues, to combat common threats and improve bilateral cooperation through the development and application of innovative technology.
The two leaders emphasised that cooperation between India and the US in securing the two nations was a key pillar of the India-US Global Strategic Partnership. They recognised that such cooperation was imperative in view of commonality of the threats that confront the two countries.
Shinde and Napolitano welcomed progress made over the recent past in developing practical steps to enhance the security of the citizens of the two countries, and to prevent the misuse of increasingly-interconnected global financial, transportation and communication systems.
They agreed to enhance cooperation in capacity building programmes and to identify technologies and equipment which may be useful for Indian law enforcement agencies to source in the US, the Indian statement said.
The two countries also agreed to combat the flow of illicit finances and currency counterfeiting, and to work closely to counter terrorism and promote cyber security, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
The two countries plan to enhance cyber security and critical infrastructure protection engagement; increase training on countering illicit financing through Cross Border Financial Investigations Training Program; and share best practices and lessons learned in the context of megacity policing.
Napolitano and Shinde also agreed to identify areas in which the US and India can collaborate on science and technology development and its application in the homeland security context.
The next round of Homeland Security Dialogue would be held in India in 2014.