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Indian state switches to less costly security for Mumbai gunman

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NEW DELHI — The Indian state of Maharashtra has decided that the lone surviving gunman in the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai has become too great a financial burden and is taking steps to address the problem.

After receiving a $2 million bill for special security at the fortress-like prison in Mumbai where Ajmal Amir Kasab is being held, government officials said this week that the 200 commandos of Indo-Tibetan Border Police assigned to guard Kasab will be replaced with regular state police.

“Our police force is able, and they can do the job,” the state home minister, R.R. Patil, told reporters Wednesday.

Patil also said he had asked the national government in New Delhi to foot part of the special security bill, which was for costs between March 28, 2009, and Sept. 30 last year. “There should be some reduction in cost considering the attacks had national repercussions,” he said.

The state government has already spent an estimated $9 million on the high-profile prisoner, whose trial was held in a specially created air-conditioned court inside the jail connected by a tunnel to his bomb-proof cell.

A Mumbai court sentenced Kasab to death for his role in the bloody siege that killed 166 people, including six Americans. The attacks severely strained relations between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan.

David Coleman Headley, the man who is accused of scouting for the well-coordinated Mumbai attacks, blamed on Pakistan-based militant groups, is testifying this week in a Chicago court.

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