India to continue pushing for Headley extradition: Khurshid
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday said that New Delhi would continue to press United States of America for the extradition of David Headley.
Headley, a co-conspirator in the 26/11 terror attacks at Mumbai in 2008, was jailed for 35 years on Thursday by a court in the USA after he had agreed to testify against the plotters to avoid the death penalty.
Though the sentence, handed down to by the court is the maximum sought by federal prosecutors, but Khurshid expressed unhappiness India not been allowed to conduct Headley's trial.
"Our request and demand was that we try him in our own country and I think that possibly it would have been more serious and severe sentencing, but 35 years sentencing and what the judge has said is a beginning," said Khurshid.
R. K. Singh, Union Home Secretary, also repeated the calls for Headley's extradition to India for trial and questioned further.
"Our request for extradition still remains, that request is still pending and we will continue to press it. The reason is that the conspiracy, in which Headley was a part of, was not restricted only to Mumbai, he visited other places also. So, we need more information from him in this regard. Thus our request for extradition stands and we shall continue pressing it," said Singh
Singh also said that the government had always pressed for capital punishment for all the conspirators of the Mumbai attacks.
166 people, including six Americans were killed in the attack.
52-year-old Headley, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, admitted videotaping sites that were targeted by the Mumbai attackers.
Uday Bhaskar, a defence expert and former director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said the decision not to hand Headley over to India was intended to mask the role of the Pakistani spy agency ISI in the operation.
"The US government for its reasons to protect certain information that it believes would not be appropriate if it comes into the public domain, especially role of the Pakistan ISI. They have chosen to deal with this case in what I might call as a political context, so as a result 35 years has been given. I am sure the families of those who were killed and seriously injured in November 2008 will be disappointed," said Bhaskar.
Formerly known as Daood Sayed Gilani, Headley was arrested in October 2009 and has been cooperating with US and Indian authorities to provide information about his associates.