Making A Difference

Dubai's Dadagiri

While the UAE authorities seem willing to cooperate with India on the extradition of terrorists and criminals operating from the Emirates, Dubai has inclined to resist such moves.

Dubai's Dadagiri
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The extended and, till the recent past, largely fruitless, saga of efforts to secure the extradition ofIndian crime lords and terrorists operating out of Dubai appears, tentatively, to have entered a new phaseunder escalating Indian and international pressure. On February 19, Dubai authorities decided to deport IqbalKaskar, younger brother of the Karachi-based underworld kingpin Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, and the another Dawoodassociate and gangster, Ejaz Pathan, to India.

Iqbal Kaskar is a relative lightweight in the crime family with 'only' six cases of murder and attempt tomurder pending against him in India. Ejaz Pathan, on the other hand, has an extended criminal record, with anInterpol red corner notice against him, and charges of involvement in the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in1993, in which 257 persons lost their lives.

Relations between India and Dubai have come under increasing strain since early December 2002, whenauthorities in Dubai arrested Anees Kaskar Ibrahim - another of Dawood's brothers and a prime accused in theMumbai Bomb Blasts case. Dubai acutely embarrassed UAE authorities, who were negotiating Anees' extradition toIndia under an Interpol red corner notice, by abruptly releasing and deporting the long-time fugitive toPakistan .

It has been clear for some time now that, while the UAE authorities are eager to cooperate with India onthe extradition of terrorists and criminals operating from the Emirates, Dubai has inclined to resist suchmoves. Within the loose federal structure of the UAE, little could apparently be done to hold Dubai tointernational norms and bilateral commitments on extradition with India. Then again, on February 3 this year,Dubai arrested an estimated 110 gangsters of the notorious 'D Company', including two of Dawood's brothers,Noora and Mustaqim, as well as a number of its frontline leaders, raising - and again dashing - expectationsin India that these criminals would be extradited to face justice in this country.

These incidents brought Dubai under the glare of international criticism and cautious Indian sanctions whenpermission for 12 special flights to Dubai to cater for the annual shopping festival rush was refused byIndian authorities. It is also believed that the Indian Minister for External Affairs, Yashwant Sinha, mayhave raised the issue of extradition with authorities in the UAE during a brief stopover in Abu Dhabi onJanuary 28, 2003.

There have also been reports of increasing apprehensions in Dubai that the criminal networks that have longoperated with impunity from this city-state's soil could now bring their gang-wars into the region - with theJanuary 19 assassination of Sharad Shetty, one of Dawood's prominent lieutenants, at the India Club in thecity setting off alarm bells. The possible loss of the very substantial Indian business in the city has alsocaused some anxiety in the city-state's trading community.

India has had an extradition treaty with the UAE since 1999, but, so far, has succeeded in securing theextradition of only seven criminals or terrorists - excluding economic offenders, and including Iqbal Kaskarand Ejaz Pathan. This includes Mohammad Altaf, the accused in the Ghatkopar bus blast at Mumbai, who wasextradited on January 26, 2003; Imran Rahman Khan, another accused in the same case, extradited on January 9;Muthapa Rai and Raju Anadkad, members of the 'D Company', extradited on May 30, 2002; and Aftab Ansari aliasFarhan Malik, the main accused in the shootout near the American Centre at Kolkata, extradited on February 9,2002.

The cumulative impact of these extraditions is negligible. The 'big fish' of the 'D Company' have easily movedfrom their headquarters in Karachi to and through Dubai on a regular basis for the past two decades. Thelatest extraditions suggest that this ease of movement may, in some measure, be curtailed by the uncertaintyof possible arrest and deportation to India, and this may have some dampening impact on the movement of thetop leadership of this organised criminal-terrorist operation.

The broad nature of the operations of this entity, however, would not be affected until fundamentalstructural changes occurred in the character of the regime in Dubai, which has long profited from a collusivearrangement with a wide range of criminal operations and loose, unregulated financial and trade transactionsthat have made this port city a haven for the illegal international movement of tainted money and contraband.

Ajay Sahni is Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management and Editor, South Asia IntelligenceReview of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal, courtesy which this piece appears here.

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