The trial in the Mumbai terror attack case opened on Friday with the sole surviving terrorist Mohammed Amir Ajmal Kasab seeking retraction of his confession and the prosecution hinting at Pakistan army's involvement in training him and the other terrorists, who were killed.
The trial commenced with the new defence lawyer S G Abbas Kazmi, appointed by the court after Anjali Waghmare was replaced, filing an application that Kasab wanted to retract his statement made before a magistrate.
Kazmi told Judge M L Tahilyani that the accused was retracting his confession as it was taken under "duress" by police. The court, which is yet give its ruling on the issue, however, rejected Kasab's contention that he was a minor and not 21 as claimed by the prosecution and that he should be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.
Opening the case, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam alleged that Kasab, who was arrested on the night of November 26 last, and the killed terrorists had received military and intelligence training in Pakistan under a conspiracy hatched by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in Pakistan to ultimately capture Jammu and Kashmir.
Nikam did not name Pakistan Army or the Inter Services Intelligence having trained the accused. But he repeatedly referred to Major General Sahab and Col R Saadat, who figured in Kasab's confession as supervisory officers of the training imparted to accused. Nikam based his submissions on the confession made by Kasab before a magistrate.
The confession was Friday opened in the court and Nikam read out some portions to point out that the perpetrators of the crime had been given precise military and intelligence training in Pakistan. When it was read out to Kasab, he said he wanted to retract from it saying it was taken by police under duress.
Inside the court, Kasab appeared to be comfortable and was often seen smiling at his lawyer and media persons. However, the after lunch recess, he became serious and attentive when Prosecutor Nikam dwelt upon his alleged role in terror attack cases.
The judge warned Kasab not to talk to the other accused. Kasab, who was wearing a dark grey T-shirt with blue stripes and black trousers, nodded his head and kept quiet. Nikam, however, argued that Kasab was retracting his confession after two months. He denied the allegations that the confession was taken under duress and said it was recorded by a Magistrate who is an independent judicial officer.
In another development, Kasab said he was a juvenile (below the age of 18 years) and therefore the Special Court had no jurisdiction to try him. The Judge, however, rejected his plea after Nikam said that jail records and confession of the accused indicated that his age was 21 years. When Kasab's confession was being read out by the prosecutor, the accused appeared to be serious and hung his head down with hands on forehead.
Nikam said LeT chief Hafeez Muhammed Saeed, the outfit's chief of operations Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhavi and its member Abu Hamza had trained the accused in various parts of Pakistan.
In Muzaffarabad, Nikam said, they were taught to take positions with AK-47 rifles and also imparted knowledge in making bombs from RDX. In Muridke, the headquarters of LeT near Lahore, the accused were taught how to find out whether they were being trailed and how to confuse them.
The accused were taught how to create a fake identity and trained in spreading fishing nets in the sea so that they could pose as fishermen in case they were caught by Indian Coast Guard in the high seas, Nikam said.
Referring to Kasab's confession, Nikam said LeT chief Sayeed had told the accused that time had come for `jehad' and their ultimate goal of capturing Jammu and Kashmir could be achieved by attacking India.
The accused were then told they would have to go to Mumbai and indiscriminately fire at people killing as many as they could. According to Kasab, Mumbai was the target because it is the financial hub and also attracts foreign tourists.
Kasab had also said in confession that they were told to open fire at crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus without caring whether the targets were Hindus or Muslims.
"LeT was a multi-headed dragon capable of resurrecting itself in different forms," Nikam said, adding the November 26 attack in Mumbai was a new face of terror.
Summing up, the prosecutor said the attack, in which over 160 people including foreigners were killed, was a proxy war on India and aimed at destabilising the country.
Nikam said Kasab was involved in seven cases - murder of crew of marine vessel `Kuber' including its navigator Amarsingh Solanki, CST firing, Cama Hospital firing, gunning down three police officers, taxi bomb explosion in Vile Parle, theft of Skoda car and policeman's murder at Chowpatty.
Kasab's team mates, killed by security armed forces, were involved in firing at Hotels Taj Mahal, Oberoi, Leopold Cafe, Nariman House and taxi bomb blast at Mazgaon. Kasab has been charged with conspiracy in these cases.