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Saudi not convinced with India's case against Fasih Mehmood

September 17, 2012 13:56 IST

Indian agencies will tread very carefully on the case of Fasih Mehmood, an engineer based out of Saudi Arabia who is under the scanner for his alleged role in the Chinnaswamy stadium blasts in Bangalore, for if something goes wrong there will be risk of jeopardising a perfect relationship that has been set up with that country, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

Fasih Mehmood, an engineer based out of Jubail in Saudi Arabia, is wanted in connection with the 2010 Chinnaswamy stadium blasts in Bangalore as per the Indian agencies.

A couple of months back, a team of Indian investigators visited Saudi Arabia and arrested Mehmood, a suspected Indian Mujahedeen operative, with the help of the local police.

The Saudi establishment had permitted his questioning in custody over there. This matter, however, made big news when Mehmood's family came to the streets and also approached the Supreme Court protesting his arrest.

The Indian side made it clear that Mehmood was not in their custody and they were still working out the formalities of his extradition with the Saudi establishment.

While the Indian agencies were permitted to question him in Saudi Arabia, the problem began when they sought his extradition into India. The Saudi authorities stated that the extradition could only happen if the Indians manage to establish their case against him.

Today what the Indian police have on them is statements of some of the accused, but the problem is that they have not been able to corroborate the evidence.

Sources say that the Saudi establishment is not convinced with the evidence on hand and they are also taking a bit of a back seat once the family approached the apex court.

Sources also add that the extradition is not impossible, but it would take more time. The Saudi police have said that they would question the accused and also conduct their own investigation before deciding on whether he could be extradited or not. However, the Saudi police are not averse to the idea of the Indian police questioning him on their soil, but they have said a clear no to the extradition.

The Indian agencies will tread extremely carefully on this matter and would not like to rush.

"Saudi Arabia is an extremely important country for us. The recent extradition of 26/11 handler Abu Jundal is a testimony to show how close the relations are at the moment," said a source.

Moreover, for the Indians they cannot afford to rub Saudi Arabia the wrong way and if they do and put up a weak case then a lot of other cases will suffer.

It is common knowledge that many terror operatives take shelter in Saudi Arabia and on a regular basis India would need to be in touch with their counterparts to ensure that extraditions take place.

Saudi on the other hand too is trying to clean up this mess and has assured of full cooperation. However, at no cost would they want an innocent be extradited as this could have a disastrous result.

India has on its list a host of other operatives who they believe are in Saudi Arabia. During most of the investigations into terror cases, it has been found that many operatives have used Saudi as a safe house. Not only are there operatives who settle down in Saudi Arabia, but also a large deal of financial transactions through hawala channels take place there which land in India.

India has very often appraised the Saudi establishment about the same and the latter has assured of full cooperation. However, the Saudi establishment is very clear that all cases for extradition will be cleared only when there is incriminating evidence and at no point in time would they want any of these persons to go to a court and drag the establishment into a legal battle on the basis that a false case was made out.

Fasih Mehmood's family said that their battle is still on. The Saudi statement on Fasih is a recent development and they would be consulting their lawyers on what needs to be done.

The police in India are however convinced that Fasih is a player in the stadium blasts case in which 15 people were injured.

"We need some more time to corroborate the evidence," says an official involved with the investigation in the case.

An engineer by profession, Fasih Mehmood is said to have been close to one Kafeel Akthar who is in the custody of the Bangalore police for the same case.

The Bangalore police say that they found Mehmood's name on Kafeel's cell phone. During the questioning of Kafeel Akthar, the police found that Mehmood had helped in recruitment and also financing of the blasts.

Vicky Nanjappa