Rahul Bhatt wants David Headley extradited to India, rot in jail



Mumbai: Aspiring actor and fitness trainer Rahul Bhatt, whose proximity to 26/11 conspirator David Headley brought him under the scanner of anti-terror agencies, feels the 35-year prison term for the LeT operative is "inappropriate" and wants him to be tried in India and "rot" in jail.

"The jail term of 35 years is inappropriate. Headley should be extradited to India and made to stand trial in Mumbai. He should be made to rot in an Indian jail," he said.

Pakistani-American Headley was yesterday sentenced to 35 years in jail by a US court for aiding and conspiring in Lashkar-e-Toiba plot to attack the country's financial capital on November 26, 2008 which left 166 dead, including foreigners, and many more injured.

Rahul, son of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt had become friends with Headley, who had recced various city landmarks as part of the 26/11 conspiracy, during the latter's visit to a gymnasium.

According to Headley's testimony, he was fond of Bhatt and wanted to recruit him as ISI agent. He had also forewarned Bhatt not to visit south Mumbai on November 26, the day when the Mumbai attacks were launched by 10 Pakistani terrorists trained by LeT.

"I knew him as an American David Coleman Headley, who loved children, dogs, everything about India and not as Daood Gilani. Because of the dichotomy of his personality, I didn’t know his insidious side," he said.

Bhatt recalled how he had once called Headley a "CIA agent", which the LeT operative did not like. "I once called him a CIA agent and he did not like it. I always had this hunch that he was associated with US intelligence agencies," he said.

Bhatt said Headley's trial in India was also necessary as the one in the US was "doctored". "He has to be tried in an sterile environment in India."

He also criticised the US' reluctance to extradite Headley to India, saying, "I understand America and India have an extradition treaty. It is the hypocrisy of the Americans... On one hand they say they want to cooperate with India in anti-terror operations and, on the other, they don't want to extradite him."

PTI