India checking how Farooq Takla was issued a passport
New Delhi: India on Friday said it was probing how a close aide of fugitive criminal Dawood Ibrahim, Farooq Takla, who is also an accused in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, was issued a passport that was later renewed.
Takla was arrested on Thursday when he landed in Mumbai after his deportation from the UAE.
“We are ascertaining more details from Dubai,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said. India had shared with the UAE information on Takla’s presence in Dubai, following which that country’s government agreed to deport him.
When asked how Takla, who had a red corner notice issued against him in 1995, was issued a passport which was renewed later, Kumar said: “It is very difficult for me to speculate what might have happened. On how the passport was issued, there is a certain process on the issue of the passport as well as the renewal. We are ascertaining more details from our mission in Dubai, and I can share something with you once we have those details with us. On Takla’s coming to India, it is very clear that he is a fugitive who was wanted by the government of India. We had shared this information with the government of the UAE and we were pursuing this matter with them. The UAE authorities have deported him to India.”
Takla’s arrest comes eight months after Kadir Ahmed, an accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, was arrested in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district. Ahmed was arrested following a joint operation by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad and the Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad. He was accused of arranging for weapons and explosives in Gujarat, which were later taken by Abdul Razak Memon—the alleged mastermind of the 1993 blasts.
On 30 July 2015, Razak Memon’s brother Yakub Memon, who had fled to Pakistan along with his brother and the rest of the family following the blasts, was hanged in Maharashtra’s Nagpur jail, after then president Pranab Mukherjee turned down his mercy petition. Yakub Memon had been accused of securing safe passage to Pakistan for those who executed the blasts.
When asked about details about how Jaspal Atwal, a former member of a Sikh terrorist group had travelled to India coinciding with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s India visit last month, Kumar said Atwal had been issued a “valid visa”.
“This was not his first visit to India. He had visited India on earlier occasions since January 2017,” Kumar said. “The Government of India has a conscious policy of outreach to the Indian Diaspora, including misguided elements who in the past may have harboured anti-India sentiments which they have since renounced. There are well established procedures for grant of visa to foreign travellers which have been followed in this case as well,” he added.
Atwal, a Canadian Sikh was convicted for trying to assassinate a Punjab minister in 1986. He had attended an event hosted by the Canadian high commission for Trudeau in Mumbai and was photographed with his wife, sparking a furore. Following this, his invite for a second event—a dinner reception hosted by the Canadian high commission in Trudeau’s honour—was rescinded. The storm over Atwal’s presence broke a day before Trudeau was to meet Indian prime minister Narendra Modi for talks in New Delhi.
On Trudeau’s return to Canada, the press there was awash with reports that an unnamed Canadian official had pointed a finger at “factions in India” in a background briefing for Atwal’s presence at Trudeau’s events.
The Toronto Star in a report quoted the unnamed Canadian official as saying that “Atwal’s presence was arranged by factions within the Indian government who want to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from getting too cosy with a foreign government they believe is not committed to a united India.” India had later slammed Trudeau’s defence of the unnamed official.
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