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Did Bengaluru cops slip up in seeking Dr Ghani from Jeddah?

By Vicky Nanjappa
November 01, 2012 15:17 IST
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India cannot afford such slip-ups where Saudi Arabia is concerned, a senior police official in Delhi said about Saudi Arabia giving a clean chit to Dr Usman Ghani, a Dharwad resident who was detained by them on request from the Bengaluru police for his alleged involvement in a terror plot

The extradition of 26/11 key handler and Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative Abu Jundal and alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Fasih Mahmood, showed the close ties between Saudi Arabia and India.

However, India was not third time lucky in the case of Dr Usman Ghani whose extradition was sought in connection with the Bengaluru assassinations plot, Vicky Nanjappa reports

Ghani, who was working with a hospital in Riyadh, was placed under detention before being released. On Thursday, he resumed work at the hospital, according to his mother Fathima Khan who resides in Bengaluru.

Based on a requisition sent a month back, the doctor was placed under suspension. However, repeated pleas to extradite him were not entertained by Saudi Arabia who had sought proof of his involvement.

Saudi authorities waited for nearly 20 days for India to send the proof, and subsequently, Ghani was released. Moreover, investigations by Saudi authorities also did not reveal anything much on Ghani.

Ghani's first tryst with the police was in 2008 when he was questioned for his role in the Bengaluru serial blasts case. He was questioned and let off as nothing was found against him. In addition, his visa too was cleared by the Indian authorities, following which he commenced work as a doctor in Riyadh.

In the recently busted plot, under which a series of assassinations were being planned in Bengaluru, Ghani's name cropped up once again. The allegation made by the police was that he was in touch with another doctor who hails from Ghani's hometown, Dharwad, in Karnataka.

However, this was the extent of proof that the Bengaluru police had on him.

During the 20 days that he was in custody, further investigations were conducted in Bengaluru, but nothing cropped up. As a result of which they were unable to convince the Saudi authorities for his extradition.

Thanks to a treaty with Saudi Arabia, a person is placed under detention based on a request sent in from India.

However, Saudi authorities are particular about solid proof before they even decide on an extradition. The IB says the police need to be careful before putting out such requests and ensure that a solid case is made; failing which, there is the danger of not being taken seriously, which may result in the accused getting away.

In the case of both Jundal and Mahmood, there was a laborious process which India had to undergo which required proper evidence in the form of DNA samples, voice records and other evidence.

"India cannot afford such slip-ups where Saudi Arabia is concerned," a senior police official in Delhi said.

"There are very important operatives who are still in Saudi Arabia, and India is in desperate need of them. The likes of IM operatives Fayaz Qagzai, Iqbal Bhatkal continue to live in Saudi Arabia and India needs to work closely in order to secure their release. The process to extradite them and at least six other IM operatives is on, and a proper case is being built up before they could be extradited," the officer added.
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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru