Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said most aspects of Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley’s ongoing deposition before a Chicago court were known to the government.
“Except one or two pieces of information, the rest had been brought to my notice by the National Investigation Agency team which had interrogated David Headley,” Mr. Chidambaram told journalists here.
Replying to a question, he said it would be worthwhile to wait for the entire examination of Headley to be over. “We cannot have a running commentary on it.”
To another query at his monthly review press conference of the Home Ministry, Mr. Chidambaram said the government had not taken any decision on being a party to a lawsuit in the U.S. against Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI.
Responding to a question whether Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran should offer his resignation in the wake of allegations against him on 2G spectrum scam, Mr. Chidambaram said: “In telecom matter, the CBI is investigating and the Joint Parliamentary Committee is inquiring, it will be completely unfair on my part to make any comment as I have no personal knowledge.”
On the status of mercy petition of Parliament House attack convict and death row prisoner Afzal Guru, the Home Minister said that during his tenure of past 30 months 11 mercy petitions had been decided against just two decisions between May 2004 and November 30, 2008. Out of 31 mercy petitions with the Ministry, 19 had been resubmitted to the President. He said a mercy petition was put in the serial according to the date of conviction and the date of filing the plea.
Mr. Chidambaram said names of 169 Sikh NRIs which were included in the “black list” were reviewed by the Home Ministry and 142 names were removed and necessary instructions were issued to the Indian Missions.
In the wake of terror attack on the Pakistan Navy base in Karachi, a high-level review of the coastal security was taken up. A detailed security review of all ports and vital installations along the coast would be undertaken by the Shipping Ministry with the Navy.
Mr. Chidambaram, who completed two-and-half years in office as Home Minister, said he had set the objective of enhancing the capacity of the intelligence agencies and security forces.
The number of operational battalions of the Central armed police forces had gone up to 573 against 541 on November 30, 2008. Besides, 21 new battalions were being raised. The total strength of Central forces, including all ranks, would swell to 7.77 lakh personnel. “We have built an additional 538 km of border roads, completed an additional 1,394 km of border fencing and replaced 652 km of fencing, and completed an additional 600 km of flood-lighting.”
Mr. Chidambaram said that in the past two years, State police forces had taken up modernisation seriously and constructed 528 new police stations, procured over 10,000 new vehicles and acquired 30,000 weapons.
On the legislative front, the Home Ministry successfully piloted 13 Bills in Parliament and secured their passage. Among them were the National Investigation Agencies Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and the Land Ports Authority of India Act. Hindu