New Delhi, Dec. 9: India’s most wanted fugitive Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Anees Ibrahim has been held in Dubai after he reached the Emirate from Pakistan, holding out before the government a tantalising opportunity to claim the biggest breakthrough yet in the Bombay blasts case.
Anees, charged with a key role in the chain blasts of 1993 (see chart) and whose name figures on the list of 20 India gave Pakistan for handover, was arrested by Dubai officials last week.
Informed of the arrest, the CBI has sent deputy inspector general (Interpol) A.K. Gupta to Dubai. He is carrying with him documents on the alleged involvement of Anees in the Bombay blasts.
Anees was detained several days after he arrived from Pakistan and is believed to have been carrying a Pakistani passport in a fictitious name.
Officials in Delhi claimed he was held on the basis of an Interpol red-corner notice (lookout alert). The notice (No. A-349/8/93) was released in August 1993, four months after a Mumbai court issued arrest warrants against Anees in the explosions case.
The CBI, in consultation with the home and foreign ministries, is expected to focus initially on getting Anees deported, though India has an extradition agreement with the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part.
Deportation can be carried out through an executive order, unlike extradition which involves a judicial process. The judicial modalities are often time-consuming and courts usually go through with a fine tooth comb the evidence submitted against the person sought to be extradited.
Deportation can be put on the fast track if the decision-making authority is prima facie convinced that a case can be made out against the accused. The UAE’s recent handovers of fugitives — including Aftab Ansari, the alleged mastermind of the attack outside the American Center in Calcutta this January — have all been through deportations.
If the BJP-led government succeeds in getting its hands on Anees — he had been arrested twice earlier in the Gulf but was released for want of evidence — it will be a trophy that would earn rich political dividends. But it remains to be seen whether Anees can be brought back before the Gujarat elections, three days away.
Campaigning in Gujarat, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today expressed hope that the CBI and the Indian consulate in Dubai would be able to bring Anees back. He appreciated the help extended by the Dubai authorities in detaining Ansari.
Advani was supposed to make a statement in Parliament today, but could not since he did not return from Gujarat.
If the deportation bid runs into hurdles, the CBI will activate the extradition option. The CBI claimed that it had intelligence inputs about Anees’ arrest before they received informal confirmation on December 6.
A day later, the Indian consulate in Dubai wrote to the bureau, putting on record that the big fish was in the net.
A senior CBI officer said the bureau’s emissary, Gupta, has already had two rounds of meetings with the authorities in Dubai and that he was confident of Anees’ deportation.
India’s relations with the UAE have been cordial since this February when Ansari and Raju Anadkar, considered a Dawood aide, were deported from Dubai. After that, Muthappa Rai, another gangster wanted in more than 18 cases in Karnataka, was handed over in September.
Some government officials, though, feel it would not be that easy to bring back Anees as Dawood has considerable clout in the Gulf. “It will be a tough job because we should realise that Dawood, with his money power and strong links in the Gulf, will leave no stone unturned to stop the handing over of his brother,” an official said.
Officially, the CBI is keeping its cards close to the chest, chastened by the experience it had after Abu Salem, another blasts accused, was caught in Portugal in September. Despite the CBI’s claims then, it has not been able to get Salem deported.