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26/11: Mehboob Shaikh grilled in court

Staff Reporter

Mumbai: Nuruddin Mehboob Shaikh, the witness whose failure to turn up in court on Friday created a stir, was grilled by the defence on Monday. According to the police, he is the only eyewitness against 26/11 accused Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed and the Mumbai Crime Branch considers him an “important witness.”

His testimony becomes crucial as it bears out the investigating agency’s contention that the Mumbai attackers carried a map prepared after a recce by Fahim and delivered by Sabahuddin.

Calmly, betraying no trace of agitation, the witness denied a volley of allegations of criminal antecedents against himself, members of his family and his friends. He said his brother was arrested for two offences. The witness dealt with a number of suggestions from Fahim’s lawyer Shahid Azmi that he had been paid Rs. 6,000 to depose against Fahim.

Mr. Shaikh told the court that he happened to learn of Fahim’s arrest when some of his friends read about it in the newspapers.

Inconsistency

Certain aspects of his testimony do not fit to a T with what the investigating agency’s head, Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria told journalists in his comments on Mr. Shaikh’s disappearance.

Mr. Maria said Mr. Shaikh had come to the police of his own accord after learning of Fahim’s arrest. He also said Mr. Shaikh came sometime in January, and certainly after December 23. However, Mr. Shaikh said in court that he was approached by the police on December 5, 2008.

The witness said no one in his family, including himself, had a mobile phone. However, Mr. Maria had said that Mr. Shaikh’s wife told the police that her husband had left his phone at home.

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