India back on Dawood chase

BJP government launches two-pronged effort to extradite the 1993 Mumbai blasts mastermind

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government has launched a two-pronged move to extradite terrorist Dawood Ibrahim from his upscale Karachi home in Pakistan.

While New Delhi has opened a ‘back door diplomacy’ negotiation with Islamabad to seek Dawood, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been asked by the PMO to send teams across the world to tap and seal his illicit investments.

Top Home Ministry officials said an official communication has been opened up with Islamabad, which has been offered proof by New Delhi of Dawood’s billion-dollar empire spread across the world. Despite repeated denials by Islamabad, New Delhi maintains that Dawood, the main accused in the 1993 blasts in Mumbai, lives in an upmarket neighbourhood in Karachi.

During the previous NDA regime, the government had established contact with Dawood who agreed to return to India on the condition that he would not be hanged if sentenced guilty in the blasts case. It was a condition that then Deputy Prime Minister, Lal Krishna Advani, the man behind the move to get him to India, refused to agree to.

But, this time, Home Ministry officials feel Islamabad could respond positively. “We are encouraged by the fact that Pakistan's security agencies have agreed to look into the demand,” Home Ministry officials said, adding, “Unlike Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistani national difficult to extradite, Dawood is an Indian national.”

The officials said Islamabad was offered what New Delhi claims is concrete proof of Dawood interacting with a host of businessmen in Mumbai and other Indian cities, and ‘solving’ their business problems, from Pakistan. These Mumbai businessmen, said the officials, were involved in realty, movies and commodities businesses and the Intelligence Bureau had taped their conversations.

New Delhi also offered proof to Islamabad that between 2014 and 2015, Dawood and his men had invested a little over Rs 5,000 crore through benami routes across India, Turkey, United Kingdom and South Africa in various industries. That is stage one. In stage two, the BJP government wants to break the backbone of Dawood’s business by identifying his illicit operations across the world and sealing them.

New Delhi which has already confiscated all of Dawood’s properties in India wants to lay its hands on global properties. Next month, four ED officers will leave for Morocco, Turkey and Britain to check out Dawood’s benami properties, a senior ED official said on condition of anonymity. Another team will travel to Nepal, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore.

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