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Dawood link in Pandya case

New Delhi, June 5: The Central Bureau of Investigation claims to have unravelled the conspiracy in the Haren Pandya murder case and is likely to file a chargesheet in a few weeks.

A nexus between Pakistanís Inter-Services Intelligence, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Dawood Ibrahim has come to light. The Dawood gang and the LeT provided henchmen, arms and logistical support, a source said.

The interrogation of Dawood associate, Anil Parab, who was deported from Dubai, has given some idea of how the plan for killing the former Gujarat home minister was hatched.

It is learnt that some of the accused, including Asgar Ali and Mohammed Shafi, were part of a batch of recruits which went to Pakistan in mid-2002. Sharief Khan alias Chhota Dawood is alleged to have played a major role in providing the accused passports while the LeT is believed to have trained the recruits in handling arms.

The group returned to India some time this January and made an attempt on a VHP leader before killing Pandya, the source said. But their network was busted after the CBI, with the help of Ahmedabad police, nabbed Asgar and charged him and his associates with pulling the trigger on the former minister.

Asgarís henchmen include Rehan Abdul Majid, Riyan Abdul Wahid, Munnaur, Mohammed Yunus, Mohammed Pervez, Mohammad Abdul Rauf, Syed Ifthekar, Mohammad Abdul Bari and Mohammed Shafi.

The CBI has booked 13 people, including Asgar, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Two others are still at large.

CBI officials said the former minister was killed as he was a soft target for the ISI, which was out to avenge the Gujarat riots. The group had planned a series of hits. Apart from targeting the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader and Pandya, they also intended to strike vital installations, including an oil depot.

A source said the ISI is relying increasingly on Lashkar cadre to carry out its anti-India activities. This is because of strong divisions in the Hizb-ul Mujahideen as well as the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azharís suspected al Qaida links.

A pointer to this are revelations of Parab, now facing trial in Mumbai. Parab reportedly said the ISI had tasked Chhota Shakeel, wanted for the 1993 Mumbai blasts, to familiarise Kashmiri militants with the underworld network in the country.

Militants have been known to work closely with the underworld. Officials say the nexus is mutually beneficial. Militants get a ready-made support system and manpower from the underworld, while ganglords receive hard cash and ISI backing.

The CBI is attaching a lot of importance to the case, with its special crimes unit, headed by joint director, S.P. Srivastava, virtually camping in Ahemdabad to speed up investigations.

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