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26/11 probe to figure in Indo-Pak talks: PC
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
India will raise with Pakistan the issue of investigations into the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks when foreign secretaries of the two countries meet in the capital a week later.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram today made it categorical that he would want the “pending issues” pertaining to the terror attack case and investigation to be raised at the talks between New Delhi and Islamabad on February 25.

“We are still identifying the specific issues to be raised; among them will be the pending issues on 26/11 attack case and probe,” Chidambaram told women journalists at the Indian Women Press Corps today.

The home minister’s obvious reference was to the Indian demand for voice samples of Mumbai terror attack accused being held in custody in Pakistan. He had earlier said the 10 Mumbai attackers could have been guided by an Indian handler. “We know him as Abu Jindal but to put a finger at him, we need his voice sample. And they (Pakistan) won't give us one,” the home minister had said.

But today he made part of India’s agenda for the secretary level talks clear by saying “pending issues” of Mumbai terror probe would be taken up with the neighbouring country.

Chidambaram further cleared the air on whether everyone in the government was on the same page as far as the resumption of talks with Pakistan goes.

“These talks are about talks, and there is no I and you here. The government has decided that foreign secretaries of the two nations should meet and I am part of the government,” he said, adding that only after the talks would one know whether the pace of investigations into 26/11 attacks would be speeded up.

The home minister, however, resisted referring to Mumbai attacks as a “war”, when asked if he thought it was a war against India. “Using colourful terms doesn’t serve any purpose. It was an attack on our commercial capital, on the idea of India,” Chidambaram said, adding that India would take the legal recourse in seeking access to David Headly, the LeT operative in US custody.

On the Kashmir front, the minister admitted that there had been a rise in infiltration though its incidence had reduced. “There is a lot of activity going on between the two sides of the LoC,” he said, in reference to stone pelting incidents in the valley. He attributed the rise in infiltration to military organisations grouping to push terrorism, and said: “They are unhappy about the talks, about the development in J&K and about a stable government there.”

‘Naxal situation to worsen’

Chidambaram warned that the naxal situation would worsen. “As long as we didn’t engage them, they were happy. But now the CPM (Maoists) will try every trick in the bag to widen their circle of influence, unless we challenge them,” he said, citing lack of trained state police forces to take on the naxals and continued intellectual and material support to Maoists by some civil rights organizations as the major challenges in combating the naxals. He said there were 300,000 vacancies in the police forces, 350 in the IPS at the central level alone.



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