NEW DELHI: Dawood Ibrahim, one of India’s most-wanted men for masterminding the 1993 blasts in Mumbai in which over 300 people were killed, can’t be extradited as his location is not known, the government said in today, contradicting what successive governments have said for years.
“The subject has not been located so far. Extradition process with regard to Dawood Ibrahim would be initiated once the subject is located,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Chaudhury said in Parliament, in response to a question on the underworld don’s extradition.
After controversy exploded over the statement, Kiren Rijiju, the other junior minister for home, said, “The government’s consistent stand is that Dawood is in Pakistan. Do not misconstrue a statement based on a specific question.”
Sources say the government may clarify in Parliament tomorrow that it knows Dawood is in Pakistan but he “keeps shifting.”
Home ministry officials are reportedly investigating who framed the Parliament reply, which raises two possibilities, both grim.
If what Mr Chaudhury said in the house is true, it means Dawood Ibrahim is off the Indian intelligence scanner and cannot be located any more. That the minister’s Parliament reply is the result of a drafting error is being seen as a better bet.
India has always maintained that the 59-year-old is in Karachi, under the Pakistan government’s protection.
Mr Chaudhury’s statement today flies in the face of what his boss, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, had said in December. “We have repeatedly asked Pakistan to hand over Dawood Ibrahim. Let’s be patient; action will be taken soon.”
Dawood Ibrahim is at number 8 on a list of 50 most wanted terrorists that India handed over to Pakistan in 2011. India has submitted several dossiers to prove that he lives on Clifton Road in Karachi. “India is aware of the street on which he lives,” then Home Minister P Chidambaram had said.
Congress leader Rajiv Shukla mocked the ruling BJP, saying, “They had promised that they will bring Dawood back. Now that the govt has completed one year, neither Dawood has come back, nor Ibrahim.”
BJP MPs who have been deeply involved in the Dawood case tried to defend the government’s statement. “It is impossible to have an exact location of Dawood,” said the party’s Satyapal Singh, a former Mumbai police chief.