The list of criminals on India's list of most wanted offenders has 656 names on it. Indian authorities are trying their best to get all of them extradited with the help of the Interpol, but it is proving to be an arduous task.
India has now decided to push for a change in the International Noticing System, as most of the offenders on its list are involved in terror activities.
Officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation believe there is a need to separate terrorism from other offences and cases related to it should be treated under a separate category. This idea was proposed at the recently held Interpol Conference at Rome.
India has a lot to gain if there is a change in the International Noticing System, as this will intensify pressure on nations harbouring Indian fugitives.
Some of the most wanted terrorists on India's list -- like Dawood Ibhrahim and Tiger Memon -- are currently living in Pakistan. India's pleas for their extradition have fallen on deaf ears.
In such cases, the fugitives take up a Pakistani identity, making the job of Indian agencies even tougher.
If the requisite changes in the International Noticing System are implemented, member countries can identify, arrest and hand over such terrorists to India, according to a CBI official.
"We are hopeful that the changes will take place soon, as terrorism is today a global threat. Many of the terrorists on India's list are helping fund terror activities against other nations now," said the source.
The CBI is planning to conduct training programmes on how to locate fugitive terrorists and coordinate with member nations for their arrest.
On India's most wanted list, the crimes that have the most offenders are terrorism, offences against minors and fraud. Security agencies believe that fugitive terrorists usually hide in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh. Other criminals on the list are believed to be holed up in a variety of nations including United States, UAE, Hong Kong and Oman.
As far as terrorists are concerned, dangerous men like Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon have been part of the list since 1993. Today, the list includes many members of the Indian Mujahideen and operatives from Kerala like Haji Ibrahim, Shaikh Anwar, Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Kochipeedikayil Shabeerkayil, Sabir Kochipeedikayil and Nazir Thadipeedikayil.
According to the CBI, there are primarily two reasons for the high number of fugitives. Firstly, Pakistani agencies target Indian youth, brainwash them and train them to wage an internal war against India.
Secondly, as lakhs of Indians are spread across the globe, it is easy for an Indian criminal to secure a fake identity and start a new life without facing too many questions.
According to sources, the lackadaisical approach of Indian police officials, who often take their own sweet time to share information with the Interpol, is a major reason many criminals remain beyond the grasp of authorities.
In the case of terror mastermind Riyaz Bhatkal, it took the police almost three years to share evidence of his role in terror attacks in India with the Interpol. His name appeared on the list only a few months ago. Till then, Bhatkal had moved around freely without ever being detained or questioned.
Police officers investigating cases involving fugitives first have to send a request to the CBI and then back it up with enough evidence.
According to CBI officials, the moment it becomes clear that a criminal has fled the country, proper documents and evidence should be submitted promptly, so that the Interpol can be notified about the case immediately and the offender is nabbed in due time.