Shiv Sena activist admits he met Headley twice

Shiv Sena activist Rajaram Rege, named by Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley as a contact, Wednesday admitted meeting the terror activist twice in 2008 but said he had no idea who the man was.

Last Updated: May 25, 2011, 13:36 PM IST

Mumbai: Shiv Sena activist Rajaram Rege, named by Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley as a contact, Wednesday admitted meeting the terror activist twice in 2008 but said he had no idea who the man was.

Rege said that he had not concealed his linkages with Headley from Indian authorities and insisted that at one point of time he began suspecting Headley.

Headley, who has admitted to being one of the planners of the Mumbai terror attack, told Judge Harry D. Leinenweber in a Chicago court that he knew Rege, calling him a Shiv Sena public relations officer (PRO).

Although the Shiv Sena does not have a PRO in its ranks, the party Tuesday admitted it had a party worker by the name of Rajaram Rege.

Speaking on phone from Vengurla in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, Rege said he had no further links with Headley apart from the two meetings he had with him.

The 40-year-old said he also exchanged some email messages.

Rege said he could not remember the dates he met Headley and promised to meet the media after returning to Mumbai June 1.

A professional computer software and hardware engineer, Rege said he offered his voluntary services in the Shiv Sena`s party headquarters in a bid to resolve people`s problems.

He said he was introduced to Headley by a man, Vilas Varkarvi.

"At that time I had no inkling of Headley`s intentions. He was like the other foreigners who keep coming to Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar for different reasons," Rege said.

Rege denied keeping his meetings with Headley under wraps.

"On the contrary, I was interrogated in detail by the NIA (National Investigation Agency) and I told them everything, and they asked me not to speak about it. They asked the same questions you are asking."

He said he never met the Lashkar-e-Taiba operative in the presence of Rahul Bhatt, son of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.

Rege said Headley believed he was the "Shiv Sena PRO". Later, he tried to avoid him as he began to feel uncomfortable with Headley.

"On one occasion, he said he wanted a tour around Shiv Sena Bhavan. I told him it is not a tourist spot... Only after the (Mumbai) terror attack did his true intentions come to light."

Headley expressed a desire to invest in infrastructure projects through Rege`s ties with the Shiv Sena.

Rege said he tried to scuttle the issue by asking Headley to submit his company`s profile.

Rege said he did not know any top Shiv Sena leader personally and did not make any efforts to bring Headley in contact with them.

In one email, Headley asked him to meet him in Dubai.

Rege was named by the 50-year old Headley while recording his testimony as a prosecution witness in the trial of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack in Chicago.

A co-accused in the case along with Tahawwur Rana, a Canadian of Pakistani origin, Headley said he conducted a recce of India`s atomic installation, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, near Mumbai and also visited the Shiv Sena office at Dadar in central Mumbai.

Ten Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai in November 2008 and went on a killing spree, leaving 166 Indians and foreigners dead. The targets they chose had been picked by Headley for the terrorist handlers in Pakistan.

IANS