Mumbai, Jan. 15: A Mumbai witness who claims she saw six of the 10 gunmen land in the city by a dinghy on November 26 has now said she was whisked away to the US to be questioned there.
I was informed that the officers who questioned me about the Mumbai attacks here would take me to America. They came on Sunday morning and took me, Anita Uddaiya told PTI. I lied to police that I went to Satara as the officers told me not to disclose anything about my America visit.
Uddaiya, who lives in a Cuffe Parade slum, went missing on Sunday morning and returned at 1.30am yesterday.
US embassy sources in Delhi rejected her claim. Nobody has been taken to the US for the purpose of investigation... after the Mumbai attacks, a source said.
Mumbai police chief Hassan Gafoor said: We recorded her statement after her return, and she said she went to a relatives house in Satara.
Joint commissioner Rakesh Maria, who said yesterday Uddaiya was not one of the key witnesses who identified surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab or the bodies of the nine slain terrorists, dismissed reports of her US trip as a figment of her imagination.
Her neighbour and president of the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Nagar slum, Madhusudan Nair, said Uddaiya had been telling him for two weeks she would be taken to the US.
We were waiting at her house at 10pm on Saturday since she said they would fetch her at that time. But no one turned up. We kept waiting till 5am. Around 5.15am, she went to the toilet, and received a phone call that a car was waiting for her. I didnt see her go, but she told us later how she was driven to the airport and put on a 7am plane, Nair said, denying he had seen any American official in the slum.
Uddaiya said there were four officers in the car, one of whom spoke Hindi. First, I was taken to St George Hospital to see my husband
. From the hospital, I was taken to the airport, Uddaiya said.
The mother of two said she was driven to a posh hotel in the US. After a couple of hours, we all went to a building where I was asked several questions about the terrorists and the Mumbai attacks, she said. Everything was over in two to three hours.
It is unclear why investigators would want to take Uddaiya to the US since the FBI has been allowed unparalleled access to the witnesses here.
However, witnesses have on occasion been flown to the US from friendly countries like Italy so that its key counter-terror officials do not have to travel abroad.
When Gafoor was asked if she was among the key witnesses, he refused comment.