India's eyes not shut on Dawood, says Rajnath Singh

Kolkata: India's eyes were not shut on underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, but "some international compulsions" were hindering his extradition from Pakistan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday.

Rajnath Singh
Rajnath Singh

Addressing a media conference at the Press Club here, Rajnath Singh asserted that the government will not tolerate anyone raising pro-Pakistan slogans, and said his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not wavered from its long-held stance favouring abrogation of Article 370 that guarantees special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

"On Dawood, I will only say we have not kept our eyes closed," Rajnath Singh said at the media conference called on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government.

"But you know there are some international compulsions due to which there are often some obstacles," the minister said to questions about Dawood's extradition from Pakistan.

There was a controversy recently over junior home minister Parathibhai Chaudhary's reply in the Lok Sabha that Dawood's location was unknown and extradition proceedings against him would start once he was traced.

Rajnath Singh had then clarified that India has credible information that Dawood was in Pakistan and the central government would not rest till he is brought back.

Pakistan has denied time and again the fugitive's presence on its soil.

Talking about Pakistan resorting to unprovoked firing on the border, Rajnath Singh slammed the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government for taking a meek stand.

"Whenever Pakistan resorted to firing, the UPA regime failed to give a befitting reply and would wave white flags. But under this regime, our Border Security Force gave a telling reply which compelled Pakistan to seek the United Nations' intervention," he said.

Asked about reports of pro-Pakistan slogans being heard and the neighbouring nation's flag raised in Srinagar, the home minister said: "We cannot allow anybody to give a slogan of 'Pakistan zindabad' on Indian soil. The BJP believes that all Indians, be it Hindus, Muslim or Christians, are nationalists.

"But if anyone standing on Indian soil shouts 'Pakistan zindabad', then no matter which religion he belongs to, the government will not accept that," he said.

Rajnath Singh said the BJP stills sticks to its original position on Article 370.

"There are no two ways about our stand on Article 370. But a new government has come to power in Jammu and Kashmir and the BJP, for the first time, has got the opportunity to be part of the state government. So let development take place first," he said.

He underscored the government's commitment on maintaining cordial relations with neighbours, but said India has taken a strong stand on border issues with Pakistan and China, with Modi being the first prime minister who "strongly raised the border issues with China".

"During his visit to China, Narendra Modi categorically stated India's stand on all the outstanding issues concerning China. This is the first time that an Indian prime minister has strongly raised the border issues with China," he said.

The minister said the Rafale warplane deal was made in national interest and denied any differences within the BJP over the $13 billion deal for the purchase of 126 Rafale multi-role combat aircraft from France.

Rajnath Singh said the NDA regime has cleared 40 new defence projects.

"Under the UPA, due to no clearance, defence proposals and projects had been adversely impacted. But after this government came to power, we have given clearance to 40 defence projects so that the country's security cover is further strengthened," the home minister said.

On West Bengal, Rajnath Singh expressed "very serious concern" over a plethora of complaints about crude bombs being manufactured in the state and said its law and order situation needs to improve.

He, however, assured the centre's full assistance to the Mamata Banerjee government in ushering in development, ensuring security and preserving law and order.

Ahead of Modi's visit to Bangladesh next month, Rajnath Singh hoped the Teesta water sharing accord with the neighbouring country would be finalised soon.

He said the government was confident of getting support of Banerjee, who had blocked the water sharing deal between India and Bangladesh four years ago.

He also said the bus service between Kolkata and Dhaka will commence soon.

"The trial run of the bus service between Kolkata and Dhaka is already complete. The service will soon be started," he said.

Terming the one-year progress report of the NDA government "excellent", the home minister said the country has moved out of the crisis of policy paralysis and India's rating has turned positive globally.

He said the GDP has now increased to seven percent and exuded confidence that the country would see a double-digit GDP growth within three-four years.

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