Teach recruits Hindi to keep them busy, LeT’s India head told Ansari

Sagnik Chowdhury Posted: Nov 26, 2012 at 0113 hrs
Mumbai While instructing 26/11 accused Syed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal to teach recruits Hindi, Lashkar’s India operations commander Muzammil Butt alias Yusuf said unless youngsters at training camps were kept occupied, they would go back home and never return.

In an interrogation report prepared by the Mumbai Police and accessed by The Indian Express, Ansari has said in the month of Ramzan in 2008, he was sitting with LeT operative Imran Nishan in the computer room at the LeT Bait-ul-Mujahideen camp in Muridke, when he was told that Yusuf had called him to his office.

Yusuf asked him what he was working on. When Jundal replied nothing special, the commander said: “Lashkar ke andar ladke bahut zyada ho gaye hain. Ladko ko chutti do to woh waapas nahin ayenge. Isliye ladko ko yaha par laya gaya hai. Aur idhar unko koi kaam nahin hai to unko Hindi padhao (There are too many young boys in Lashkar now. If they are given leave, they will never return. That is why they have been brought here. Since they do not have any work here, teach them Hindi).”

Ansari has said he began teaching Hindi to 12 Lashkar recruits — the 10 gunmen who attacked Mumbai on 26/11 and Abu Qasam and Abu Abdullah.

The hour-long lessons after morning and evening prayers would take place in a separate tent at the camp.

“Hindustan ki zubaan Hindi hai, aur Hindi swar se shuru hoti hain (The language of India is Hindi, and Hindi starts with alphabets),” Ansari said in his opening lesson, before writing Hindi alphabets on a blackboard.

Seeing blank faces of his pupils, he asked how far they were educated. To this, Abu Akasha (killed at Nariman House) said he was educated till 10th standard and was working as a compounder at a hospital, and Abu Fahadullah (killed at Trident Hotel) said he had also studied till 10th standard.

Ansari later told Yusuf it would be difficult to teach Hindi as the recruits were mostly uneducated.

Yusuf asked him to persevere. After some time, Abu Qasam and Abu Abdullah were not seen as they were sent on a mission.

Ansari recalls one of the 10 Mumbai gunmen asking him, “Hindustan mein agar taxi leni ho, kis tarah leni chahiye? (How is one supposed to hire a taxi in India?).

Ansari replied, “Taxi khadi hoti hai. Uske driver ko jis jagah jaana hai, us jagah ka naam batao. Zyadatar taxi meter pe hoti hai. Jitna bill hota hai, utna dena hai (The taxi will be parked. Tell the driver the name of your destination, and he will take you there. Most taxis run by meter. Whatever the bill, you have to pay the amount).

Ansari also claims he saw David Headley during one of his Hindi lessons. One evening, he noticed someone peeping into the tent.

He describes the stranger as a fair and clean shaven man of medium build, with a big forehead and hair combed back, who was wearing a salwar kameez.

After the lesson, Ansari went out and found LeT commander and Headley handler Sajid Mir alias Wassi sitting outside his office. When he asked Mir who the stranger was, he replied, “Mehmaan Mujahid hai.”

It was only in January 2010, when he saw news reports of Headley’s arrest on TV, that Ansari called Mir and found out that the stranger he had seen was Headley.