In a development that marks a rare let down in the country’s stern policies in terms of dealing with fugitives residing on its soil, the UK government on Tuesday extradited Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, wanted in India in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat.
The 40-year-old's extradition is a significant step as he became the first person to be sent back from Britain 24 years after the two countries signed an extradition treaty in 1992. India has found it tough to negotiate the country’s laws while requesting extradition or deportation.
Patel had been arrested by Scotland Yard in west London in August on a Red Corner Notice issued by Indian authorities.
While the move by Britain is significant, it does not signal a change in its policies. The one-off incident comes because unlike other individuals wanted by India, Patel, 40, did not oppose the extradition, but “consented” to it, thus cutting short the long process, reports Hindustan Times.
His extradition order was signed by UK home secretary Amber Rudd on September 22 and the "surrender arrangements" were finalised for his departure.
"Following Government of India's request for extradition, Mr Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, an Indian national, is being extradited on 18th October, 2016 to face trial in India," the High Commission said in a statement today.
"Mr Patel is facing trial in connection with post-Godhra riots in India in 2002. He is charged with the offence under Section 302 of IPC, along with 43 other accused. The offences include being member of an unlawful assembly; rioting and murder. The accused was arrested in India and was on bail and after jumping bail had escaped to UK," the statement added.
The reasons for his “consent” to be extradited to India were not known, but Indian circles are delighted at the first successful extradition from Britain.
According to Gujarat Police, Patel is wanted in connection with riots in Ode village of Anand district.
A team of officials from India took him into their custody flying him back to India.
"On 22 September the Secretary of State (Amber Rudd), having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed the order for Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel's extradition to India. He is accused, whilst being part of a rioting mob, of three counts of murder, two counts of using unlawful violence with others for a common purpose and one count of arson," a UK Home Office spokesperson had confirmed last week.
On March 1, 2002, 23 people from the Muslim community were burnt alive in a house in Pirwali Bhagol area of Ode village.
Patel along with two other accused, who are still at large, are accused of being part of the rioting mob at the time.
Patel's whereabouts were traced to a home in Hounslow, west London, after which Scotland Yard nabbed him on August 9.
"On 9 August officers from the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) extradition unit attended an address in Beavers Lane, Hounslow and arrested Samir Vinubhai Patel, aged 40, on a warrant issued under section 71 Extradition Act 2003. He appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on August 10, 2016," a Scotland Yard statement said.
"We can confirm that Mr Patel has consented to his extradition to India. However, we are unable to comment on any surrender arrangements as this is an operational matter for the police," a UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) statement added.
Over the years, India has sought individuals wanted for various crimes from Britain under the processes of extradition and deportation, the latter being a quicker process. However, in either process, India has not met with much success.
The list of individuals sought by India from Britain through extradition and deportation is said to be around 15. Some recent cases of individuals wanted for alleged offences in India are:
• Vijay Mallya (financial)
• Lalit Modi (financial)
• Ravi Shankaran (Indian Navy war room leak case)
• Tiger Hanif (1993 blasts in Gujarat)
• Nadeem Saifi (Gulshan Kumar murder case)
• Raymond Varley (UK citizen; child abuse cases in Goa)