| File picture of weapons seized from NSCN (I-M) cadres |
Guwahati, April 17: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is hoping to extract information from gunrunner Wuthikorn Naruenartwanich, alias Willy, from Thailand, to effectively nail NSCN (I-M) leader Anthony Shimray on procurement of Chinese weapons for the outfit.
Shimray, who was arrested by the NIA from Nepal in 2010, is currently lodged in a Delhi jail. A source in the NIA said they are hoping to extract some vital information from Willy on the supply of Chinese weapons not only to the NSCN (I-M) but also to other Northeast insurgent groups. The move follows a Thai court’s nod to extradite the gunrunner.
“Willy’s extradition and arrest will also help us build a watertight case against Shimray who is facing trial in an NIA court in Delhi in a case related to a criminal conspiracy for illegal procurement of a shipload of sophisticated arms and ammunition from China,” the source said.
Willy, 57, who is of Thai-Chinese origin, is believed to have good contacts with Chinese arms dealers. The case (number RC-01/2010) was registered against Shimray, Willy and others at NIA headquarters in Delhi under Sections 120B, 121A, 122 of the IPC and Sections 16, 17, 18 and 20 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Willy was detained by police in Bangkok in August last year following a tip-off provided by India. A Thai court recently issued an order for his extradition after hearing a request made by India.
A non-bailable warrant and a red-corner notice were issued against Willy in this NIA case in 2011. The Indian government had requested Thailand for Willy’s extradition through a diplomatic channel and Indian officers had testified against him in the Thai court.
“The Bangkok court has given Willy a period of 30 days to prefer an appeal against the extradition order if he so desires, which will expire early next month,” the source said.
“So far, Willy has not filed an appeal. If he does not challenge the extradition order, an NIA team will leave for Bangkok next month to formally arrest him and bring him to India,” he said. After he is extradited, Willy will have to face trial with Shimray in the NIA case (number RC-01/2010).
The NIA source said Willy’s extradition will be a significant achievement for the NIA and would also act as a deterrent against trafficking of arms for militant organisations. Willy had pleaded innocent before the Thai court and claimed that he was only a translator who helped finalise the weapons deal between Shimray and a Thai man, Kong.
“He could not even give the full name of Kong,” the source said.
The Thai court finally rejected Willy’s contention.
According to the NIA, investigation conducted by them has revealed that the Shimray had negotiated several times with Willy to fix a deal to the tune of $ 1.2 million to procure a huge quantity of arms and ammunition. For this deal, $ 800,000 was paid by Shimray to Willy and the NIA claims to have email correspondence between the accused duo to substantiate their claim.
The NIA had filed a chargesheet in this case on March 26, 2011 against four accused , including Shimray and Willy. According to the NIA, Shimray met Willy several times between 2007 and 2009 to finalise the procurement of arms, but finally the weapons could not be delivered because of Shimray’s arrest in 2010.