MUMBAI: Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal was arrested in 2012 for being an alleged handler of 10 Pakistani gunmen in the 26/11 terror attacks, and his trial, put on hold since last March, finally resumed earlier this month.
Jundal is the only other accused, apart from Ajmal Kasab the Pakistani gunman who was executed, on trial in the 2008 terror case, in which 166 people including foreigners died during the three-day seige. The prosecution has shown Jundal (37), a Beed resident, to be an Indian link to the terror plot hatched and executed by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. Their case is that Jundal, who was based in Pakistan for a while, was employed to teach the gunmen Hindi and to convey their messages to the media during the siege of the Jewish community centre, the Chabad House, and hotel Trident in south Mumbai. Wanted for three major terror cases including the Aurangabad arms haul case of 2006, Jundal was arrested following his deportation from Saudi Arabia. Kasab was hanged the year that Jundal was arrested.
A special court judge GA Sanap had in November 2015 framed charges against him for his role in the plot. He had pleaded not guilty. So far, half-a-dozen witnesses have been examined and on Friday a policeman had taken to the stand. The trial before Judge Sanap will continue on Monday.
Last August, a special trial court had convicted and sentenced him to life imprisonment in the arms haul case. His lawyer, Asif Naqvi, said his appeal against conviction is pending before Bombay high court, as is an appeal by the state to enhance punishment. Another trial as a co-accused in the German bakery blast along with Yasin Bhatkal, considered former chief of Indian Mujahideen, is also pending. Before Jundal’s trial in the 2008 case resumed, a video-conferenced deposition was made by US-based terrorist David Headley as approver in the same court last March. Headley, serving a 35-year sentence in a US jail following a plea-bargain deal after admitting to his involvement in the attacks, had not referred to Jundal’s role in his deposition. He was not asked any questions about him either.
Jundal’s defence counsel Wahab Khan said the trial has resumed this month with a translator’s deposition. The man was asked to translate pages from a Pakistani passport and an identity card which the prosecution claimed were issued to Jundal in Pakistan.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said about 35 prosecution witnesses will depose in the case. Jundal is charged for criminal conspiracy, waging war against India, abetting terrorism, murder, kidnapping, cheating and forgery under the IPC and under the anti terror Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act (UAPA). He faces all the charges that Kasab faced, said Nikam.
But his trial as a co-accused in the German bakery blast along with Yasin Bhatkal, considered the former chief of Indian Mujahideen, who allegedly planted the bomb at the bakery, is on a slow burner. Jundal’s trial in the 2008 terror attacks case slowed to a standstill after a video-conferenced deposition of part-Pakistani US-based terrorist David Headley as approver before special Mumbai trial judge Sanap last March. Headley, serving a 35-year sentence in US prison following a plea-bargain deal there, after admitting to having caused the Mumbai terror attacks, had not referred to Jundal’s role in his deposition and was not asked any questions about him.
Junda’s defence counsel Wahab Khan said, “After Headley, the trial resumed in the last couple of weeks with a translator as a witness. He translated a passport. The prosecution said a Pakistani passport and identity was issued to Jundal.” Other witnesses so far include two policemen, one of who filed the case regarding the murder of Solanki on fishing boat Kuber and another lodged details on the CST firing were examined, said Khan. Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said there are about 35 prosecution witness who will depose.
The trial Delhi-advocate Mahmood Pracha who appeared for Jundal earlier in the Mumbai terror said, “While the prosecution is falsely implicating Zabiuddin with no evidence, are they serious about bringing main perpetrators like the LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and Lakhvi to India for trial.” Headley’s plea bargain agreement ensures that he cannot be extradited to face trial in India.
Jundal is charged for criminal conspiracy, waging war against India, abetting the terrorist act, murder, kidnapping, cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code and under the anti terror act of Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act (UAPA). He faces all the charges that Kasab faced, said Nikam.
The prosecution case is that it was Jundal interacting with Kasab and co through VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) during the siege of Jewish community centre, the Chabad House in south Mumbai, where little Moshe, son of a Rabbi, was left orphaned as a tiny tot, by the terrorists’ bullets.