26/11 Pak panel to be accorded utmost security


The members of the judicial commission from Pakistan who are expected to arrive in the city on Thursday to record the statements of four prosecution witnesses in the 26/11 terror attack case will be given the highest level of security cover on a par with Z+ category.

Mumbai Police sources said on Tuesday that the visit of the commission was an extremely sensitive and unprecedented diplomatic exercise, and necessary precautions were being taken to ensure the safety of its members.

"The members of the judicial commission will be given security on a par with Z+ category. No chances are being taken, and security arrangements have been planned. The location at which the members will be staying is also being kept confidential at this stage, as is their itinerary and movement during their stay," said a Mumbai Police officer. "The officials from Pakistan will not visit any of the 26/11 attack sites as such it could pose a security threat. They will be taken to the Esplanade Court and back to their accommodation with a heavy police escort team. However, they are not official state guests," said the officer.

The commission is expected to reach New Delhi on Wednesday. Its visit is in connection with the trial being conducted in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court against seven Lashkar men allegedly involved in the 26/11 attack. The commission will record the statements of witnesses on March 16, 17 and 19, and is likely to leave the city on March 20. "Whether they will be allowed to cross-examine the four witnesses or only be permitted to record their statements has not been decided. A decision from the Centre on this is expected on Wednesday," said the officer.

The commission will examine Ganesh Niutkar and Shailesh Mohite, the two doctors who conducted the autopsies of the nine Pakistani gunmen killed during the attack, investigating officer Ramesh Mahale of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch, and Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R V Sawant Waghule who recorded Ajmal Kasab's confession in February 2009.

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