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|November 5, 2001||
The Rediff Interview/Kripashankar Singh
The recent reports of the arrest and detention of gangster Abu Salem in Sharjah once again highlighted the confusion in the Central Bureau of Investigation's extradition process. Salem -- prime accused in the Gulshan Kumar murder case -- was arrested once earlier in the late 1990s in Dubai, but the Indian government had failed to get him extradited even then. Salem was given the benefit of doubt because he could not be positively identified.
Kripashankar Singh, minister of state for home in the Democratic Front government of Maharashtra, discussed the sorry case with Vijay Singh. Excerpts:
There was a lot of confusion regarding the arrest of Abu Salem. Can you tell us now what the reality was?
I have said earlier that we didn't have any confirmation from the central government about Abu Salem's arrest.
But isn't it true that Chhagan Bhujbal, deputy chief minister and home minister of Maharashtra, told the press that Abu Salem had been arrested?
I don't talk to him on such matters. I also saw this on television, but I have not spoken to him on this issue so far.
There is a report that Abu Salem came to Sharjah to meet Bollywood starlet Monica Bedi. Is this true?
We don't have any report on her so far. Moreover, the Bombay police didn't tell me anything about this actress.
What effort is your government making to get Abu Salem extradited?
We need help from the central government to bring a criminal back to Bombay. We have given all kind of assistance to extradite these criminals and are trying our best.
Then why have you have been unsuccessful?
Bringing him back depends on foreign governments. Without their support we cannot do so.
So you mean you are not getting proper support from the countries harbouring these most wanted criminals?
Yes, we are not getting support from these countries. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is lying when he says Dawood Ibrahim is not in his country. The media has given all kinds of evidence that Dawood is in Pakistan. I think our prime minister must talk to these countries and try for their extradition.
Chhota Rajan was arrested in Bangkok and Anees Ibrahim in Bahrain, but you still could not get them extradited. Don't you think there is some weakness in your government too?
It is wrong to make such judgements and easy to blame others. We did our best to bring them back, but were unsuccessful.
India has an extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates. Why then have we failed?
We didn't get proper support from the UAE government. The home minister of India, L K Advani, had visited the UAE for this purpose. I think Advani must lead the effort to bring these criminals back to India.
Why are these criminals released by governments abroad?
It depends from one country to another. Sometimes criminals who have committed crimes in other countries get freed in our country too.
What changes do we need in the extradition treaty?
Our prime minister and minister for external affairs should talk to the heads of other countries and implement the extradition treaty.
A Bombay police team visited the UAE to try and get Abu Salem extradited. What did it achieve?
It was a secret mission. I will not tell you everything the Bombay police does. What will you achieve by knowing all the information about the police?
But did the UAE government confirm that the arrested person was Abu Salem?
They confirmed it, but neither the Maharashtra government nor the Government of India confirmed it.
It has been reported that the CBI planned to bring Salem to India secretly, but the Maharashtra government leaked the information to the press and so he was released in the UAE.
We are not so foolish as to leak such big news. The central government did not tell us anything about his arrest. And they didn't ask for any documents or crime records on Abu Salem. So don't blame the Maharashtra government.
Some days ago, the Bombay police shot dead four persons believed to have been gangsters who, it was said, were planning to kill actor Aamir Khan. After that their parents held a press conference and said they were innocent, that it was a case of mistaken identity. Can you comment?
They were not innocent. They had planned to kill other film personalities also. They were planning to kill Aamir on his return from America.
It is widely believed that many film personalities are in touch with Abu Salem. What action are you taking against them?
Not many of them are in touch. We are taking action against those against whom we have strong evidence.
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