The extended and, till the recent past, largely fruitless, saga of efforts to secure the extradition of Indian crime lords and terrorists operating out of Dubai appears, tentatively, to have entered a new phase under escalating Indian and international pressure. On February 19, Dubai authorities decided to deport Iqbal Kaskar, younger brother of the Karachi-based underworld kingpin Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, and the another Dawood associate and gangster, Ejaz Pathan, to India.
Iqbal Kaskar is a relative lightweight in the crime family with 'only' six cases of murder and attempt to
murder pending against him in India. Ejaz Pathan, on the other hand, has an extended criminal record, with an
Interpol red corner notice against him, and charges of involvement in the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in
1993, in which 257 persons lost their lives.
Relations between India and Dubai have come under increasing strain since early December 2002, when authorities in Dubai arrested Anees Kaskar Ibrahim - another of Dawood's brothers and a prime accused in the Mumbai Bomb Blasts case. Dubai acutely embarrassed UAE authorities, who were negotiating Anees' extradition to India under an Interpol red corner notice, by abruptly releasing and deporting the long-time fugitive to Pakistan .
It has been clear for some time now that, while the UAE authorities are eager to cooperate with India on
the extradition of terrorists and criminals operating from the Emirates, Dubai has inclined to resist such
moves. Within the loose federal structure of the UAE, little could apparently be done to hold Dubai to
international norms and bilateral commitments on extradition with India. Then again, on February 3 this year,
Dubai arrested an estimated 110 gangsters of the notorious 'D Company', including two of Dawood's brothers,
Noora and Mustaqim, as well as a number of its frontline leaders, raising - and again dashing - expectations
in India that these criminals would be extradited to face justice in this country.
These incidents brought Dubai under the glare of international criticism and cautious Indian sanctions when permission for 12 special flights to Dubai to cater for the annual shopping festival rush was refused by Indian authorities. It is also believed that the Indian Minister for External Affairs, Yashwant Sinha, may have raised the issue of extradition with authorities in the UAE during a brief stopover in Abu Dhabi on January 28, 2003.
There have also been reports of increasing apprehensions in Dubai that the criminal networks that have long
operated with impunity from this city-state's soil could now bring their gang-wars into the region - with the
January 19 assassination of Sharad Shetty, one of Dawood's prominent lieutenants, at the India Club in the
city setting off alarm bells. The possible loss of the very substantial Indian business in the city has also
caused some anxiety in the city-state's trading community.
India has had an extradition treaty with the UAE since 1999, but, so far, has succeeded in securing the extradition of only seven criminals or terrorists - excluding economic offenders, and including Iqbal Kaskar and Ejaz Pathan. This includes Mohammad Altaf, the accused in the Ghatkopar bus blast at Mumbai, who was extradited on January 26, 2003; Imran Rahman Khan, another accused in the same case, extradited on January 9; Muthapa Rai and Raju Anadkad, members of the 'D Company', extradited on May 30, 2002; and Aftab Ansari alias Farhan Malik, the main accused in the shootout near the American Centre at Kolkata, extradited on February 9, 2002.
The cumulative impact of these extraditions is negligible. The 'big fish' of the 'D Company' have easily moved from their headquarters in Karachi to and through Dubai on a regular basis for the past two decades. The latest extraditions suggest that this ease of movement may, in some measure, be curtailed by the uncertainty of possible arrest and deportation to India, and this may have some dampening impact on the movement of the top leadership of this organised criminal-terrorist operation.
The broad nature of the operations of this entity, however, would not be affected until fundamental structural changes occurred in the character of the regime in Dubai, which has long profited from a collusive arrangement with a wide range of criminal operations and loose, unregulated financial and trade transactions that have made this port city a haven for the illegal international movement of tainted money and contraband.
Ajay Sahni is Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management and Editor, South Asia Intelligence
Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal, courtesy which this piece appears here.
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