New Delhi, Jan. 15: The United Arab Emirates is no longer a safe haven for militants wanted by India, senior government sources believe.
The sources claim that the UAE has demonstrated this by deporting Imran Rehman Khan, prime accused in the Ghatkopar bomb blast in Mumbai on December 2. The only aberration has been in the case of Anees Ibrahim, who Indian authorities want in connection with the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai.
Despite Delhi’s best efforts, Dawood Ibrahim’s brother was deported to Pakistan. Anees was carrying a Pakistani passport, which the Inter-Services Intelligence utilised to whisk him away from India’s reach.
Indian officials are drawing a distinction between “underworld dons” and “militants” seeking shelter in Dubai.
While many underworld operatives with Indian passports are happily staying there, the UAE is said to be turning the heat on the militants. “They (the militants) would now require to rethink their strategies,” the officials said.
“The promptness with which Imran was sent back by the Dubai authorities shows that they are more than willing to deny shelter to terrorists hailing from India,” senior government sources said. The Lashkar-e-Toiba operative was deported on January 9 after intelligence agencies tipped off Dubai about his presence there.
According to these officials, the change in Dubai’s attitude was noticed since January last year when it deported Aftab Ansari, an accused in the attack on the American Center in Calcutta. Raju Anadkar, who is wanted in several cases in south India, was deported along with Ansari. Muthapa Rai followed him.
Imran was recruited by the Pakistan-based Lashkar in Saudi Arabia sometime in March-April last year. In August, Indian authorities arrested Shakeel Ahmed Bakshi, who came from Ahmedabad.
Interrogations revealed that Bakshi was recruited by the Lashkar’s Kuwait cell. He was found in possession of six kg of RDX and other materials for making bombs, which, police said, was to be used for assassinating senior political leaders.
Investigations showed that Imran had come to India early last year to form an attack squad comprising his friends such as Matin Yunus and Zahir. He returned to Saudi Arabia in May and reported the progress on the assignment given to him.
The other reason why he went back was to organise money and channels through which he could communicate with his bosses, government sources said. The Ghatkopar blast was a result of this planning executed by Pakistan-based militant outfits.
Government sources said another criminal with terrorist links who found Dubai inhospitable was Shakeel Lamboo, a Dawood pointman in India. He was arrested by Mumbai police on January 7.
Lamboo, described as chief executive of the D-company in India since 1983, had fled to Dubai after the 1993 bomb blasts. But he has been in and out of the country, travelling on a passport obtained from the Lucknow passport office under the assumed name of Lari Mohammad Shakeel. He was responsible for arranging the landing of arms and ammunition along the western coastline.
The officials are hopeful of restoring the tenor of India’s relations with the UAE which were dented by the Anees episode.