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CBI, foreign office trade blame

New Delhi, Dec. 14 : Now that Anees Ibrahim has flown the coop, the blame game is on.

There have been murmurs about the CBI’s dismal record in getting foreign governments to hand over militants and criminals to stand trial in India, while the police are privately blaming the foreign office for its inability to exert sufficient diplomatic pressure to get the wanted men out even from friendly countries.

The public image of India’s premier investigating agency got a drubbing after yesterday’s double whammy, when Anees was granted bail and the CBI’s request for the extradition of Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi was turned down by a Malaysian court.

“The CBI’s recent record is dismal. Its ham-handed approach is terribly upsetting,” said a retired senior CBI official who did not wish to be named. “We have messed up most of our extradition cases in recent times,” he added.

The general view is that while the CBI’s track record on convictions is excellent at home with the figure as high as 70 per cent, its performance abroad has been dismal. “Our record abroad is another kettle of fish,” the official said.

Former CBI chief Joginder Singh, however, does not agree. “You cannot just blame the CBI for everything. We were able to convince the Swiss courts to send the crucial documents in the Bofors case back to us. With the Hindujas we succeeded. It also depends on how the courts look at it and how convincing your arguments are,” contended Singh.

Commenting on Anees again slipping out of the CBI’s grasp, Singh — like many others in the CBI — felt it was more a failure of the political and diplomatic strategy. “Why didn’t a senior political leader pick up the telephone and talk to the ruling Sheikh to make sure Anees did not escape'” Singh asked.

Many CBI officials echo his sentiments. “The CBI can push only up to a point as an investigative agency. The rest is up to the diplomats and politicians. These things work out much better at a higher political level,” asserted a bureau official.

The United Arab Emirates had in February deported Aftab Ansari, the main accused in the Calcutta shootout case. This had led New Delhi to believe that the UAE was ready to work closely with India. But many in the CBI now say Ansari’s quick deportation could have taken place because US interests were involved.

Former Delhi police commissioner Nikhil Kumar believes it is not enough for the CBI to issue red-corner notices to Interpol and wait for the wanted person to be detained.

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