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Rahul Bhatt came out of the Headley quagmire because of his family background: S Hussain Zaidi

Updated: January 14, 2013, 4:35 PM IST
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Rahul Bhatt came out of the Headley quagmire because of his family background: S Hussain Zaidi
Mumbai police had given hard time to Rahul's friend Vilas Warak just because he came from a poor background.

For most of his childhood, Rahul Bhatt did not know a father's unconditional love - a vacuum that the advent of David Coleman Headley filled for a while. David Headley: the dashing, intriguing Pakistani with one brown eye and a green one, a man who could pass himself off as American quite easily, a charmer of men and women alike. Headley inveigled his way into Rahul's simple world and, in no time, swept him off his feet. It is only when ten men made a mockery of Mumbai in a well-planned act of terrorism, that Rahul realized how close he had come to being a part of the careful plotting and the innumerable recces that Headley carried out. This is a complex tale of human relationships and the deceit therein. It is the story of Rahul Bhatt, an aspiring Bollywood actor, and his encounter with David Coleman Headley, the man who was responsible for a ruthlessly executed carnage, in which 166 people were killed and over 300 injured in the fifty-nine hours that brought Mumbai to heel and shook India. A pulse-racing narrative, told in the voices of Bhatt and Headley, 'Headley and I' traces the months leading up to the horrors of 26/11 and the long months of interrogation that followed.

The author, S Hussain Zaidi, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on his book 'Headley and I'.

Q. Will Bollywood buy your story for producing a film? They may need a heroine. Does your story have it? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Hi, am in talks with two Bollywood biggies, there are couple of women mentioned in one of the chapters, their role can be enlarged for cinematic representation.

Q. Did you ever had an inkling of who you were with? Asked by: Jeril

A. Sorry, please explain this question.

Q. Deceit of Headley - how shocked was Rahul when he came to know of the real person with whom he had been interacting? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. He felt betrayed second time in his life, imagine you find a man whom you revere and connect as father and then you realize he was actually using you.

Q. Has the incident led to any negative aspects in the career plan of Rahul Bhatt? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Not that I am aware of.

Q. What was the reaction of Bhatt family once it came to know the real David Coleman Headley? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. They blamed it on Rahul's naivete but believed very strongly in his innocence.

Q. Did Headley have any intentions to use the friendship with Rahul as a shield to cover up the assignment he was carrying out? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. It was not part of his original plans until his LeT handlers suggested him to continue.

Q. Headley befriended Rahul Bhatt. But how naive was he that he could not check the antecedents of this criminal from overseas? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Headley posed as an American businessman and his credentials were clearly established in Mumbai, am sure even famed cops of incompetent Mumbai police could not have been able to check his antecedents, leave alone Rahul.

Q. Being Rahul Bhatt the Indian agencies allowed him to get off after grilling sessions. Would that have happened if the person was not having that social standing? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Rahul was saved because of his family background otherwise Mumbai police had given hard time to his friend Vilas Warak just because he came from poor background.

Q. David Coleman Headley a Pak origin American had made a fool of our RAW/IB and Mumbai cops.Probably since he was not carrying any arms and made visits as a tourist or as a guy helping a recruiting agency he managed to get his assignment done. Has any precaution been put in place now to avoid a repeat of such actions? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Mumbai police or Indian agencies will never learn their lessons, they all work to serve their tenure nicely not protecting their country.

Q. Did you have to get the permission of cops and IB to get the narration in a book form? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. No never, India is a free country, the day I have to seek permission from any one, I will stop writing books.

Q. Headley is on trial now but do you think he will be freed because he is giving the American intelligence valuable information? Asked by: Karan

A. The American courts will not free him if they have sufficient evidence against him but in that country agencies have a different kind of clout and power.

Q. You must lead a very exciting life. Have you ever been threatened? Asked by: Simran

A. Not exciting as you imagine but I enjoy my work. Yes I have been threatened a couple of times.

Q. I am a Huge fan of yours. Just wanted to say hi. I was reviewed your dawood's book on amazon.com. do read it ... Asked by: Prabal

A. Please send me the link on booksthree@gmail.com will read it, thank you.

Q. Did Rahul Bhatt write his version of the events or have you written it in his voice? Asked by: Argho

A. He mailed me his version, also my wife and I interviewed him extensively, it his story but words are mine and he has approved it.

Q. Hello Sir Does your book make mention of the fact that Headley was planning to recruit Rahul as a possible ISI agent Asked by: Anshuman Sahu

A. No, it was Rahul's speculation but headley has not revealed any such plans to any officials.

Q. You couldn't have been present for Headley's interrogation, could you? Asked by: Swati

A. No, I was not but IG Loknath Behera and DIG Swarup Pani were.

Q. Did you meet David Headley yourself or just the people who interrogated him? Asked by: Tanmoy

A. I have not met him, its NIA officers, Rahul and Vilas

Q. How would you rate this book in comparison to your other works? Asked by: Tasneem Balapurwala

A. Books are like children for an author, I think it will be difficult to rate or compare them. Also this book has been much different from my other adventures. This is not about mafia and its too much about emotions and thoughts of men.

Q. Rahul Bhatt was very naive indeed. Even if he didn't suspect his friend of being a terrorist, there wee many signs to show that he could not be trusted. Asked by: Paul

A. Like which signs, am not aware. Rahul did suspect him to be a CIA agent which is fair enough, how can an american passport holder be a lashkar operative how would he know.

Q. In that case, you have written two different voices and it has been very well executed. Asked by: Argho

A. Thank you Argho, I wanted to try out this unconventional story telling, am glad you liked it.

Q. Do you think Headley was genuinely concerned about Rahuls's safety that day? Asked by: Madhulika

A. Well so it seemed he did not implicate Rahul in his testimony in chicago court.

Q. Do you think that if Headley had looked Indian and therefore not passed off as a foreign tourist, he would have been stopped during his surveys? Asked by: Krishna

A. Many Indians had done recces before him and managed to successfully plant bombs and they never got stopped. Our agencies are incompetent bunch of jokers they will never learn to foil the terrorists attacks.

Q. Headley implicated a lot of people from the LeT during his interrogation. Surely they will seek revenge if he is not convicted? Asked by: Amit

A. Well, they may not.

Q. Do you think the Pakistani intelligence is better trained than Indian intelligence? Asked by: Akash

A. Yes I am convinced.

Q. Also, has the government taken any action regarding the people that Headley has named? Asked by: Amit

A. Only through diplomatic channels.

Q. Why was Vilas so severely handled by the Mumbai police? This sort of thing makes the innocent witness wary of coming forward with evidence. Asked by: Dina

A. They cannot harass Rahul he being a son of rich and influential father but Vilas was a lower middle class man, and cops needed a scapegoat and a sacrificial lamb and Vilas fit the bill for their purpose.

First Published: January 14, 2013, 4:35 PM IST
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