New Delhi: The Indian government has long maintained that 1993 Mumbai serial blasts accused and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim is in Pakistan. Ibrahim figured in almost all the dossiers that have been handed over to Pakistan since the NDA rule in early 2000.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government made a 'mistake' that would be echoed for quite some time. In a written reply in Parliament, Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said that the government does not know Dawood's whereabouts.
"The United Nations Security Council has also issued a special notice against him. The subject has not been located so far. Extradition process with regard to Dawood Ibrahim would be initiated once the subject is located," he said in reply to a written question.
On the same day, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had said in New Delhi that India asked Pakistan to hand over Dawood as enough evidence had been given to it on the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. "We have been asking to hand over him to India for a long time. Already many evidence has been given to Pakistan. Pakistan should now act and hand him over to us," Rijiju had said.
On December 27, 2014, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said in Lucknow that Dawood is India's most wanted terrorist and India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to hand him over to it.
After the government was left red-faced for its contradictory reply, Kiren Rijiju rushed in for damage control and said that the underworld don lives in Pakistan and the Centre would continue to pursue the case very seriously.
"Government's consistent stand is that he (Dawood) is in Pakistan and government of India has been providing information to Pakistan about his whereabouts and Pakistani agencies are not cooperating with Indian government. That is well known to everyone," he told reporters outside Parliament.
The minister said he could not say about the clarification to be given by the government in Parliament but requested everyone not to misconstrue a statement which is based on specific questions.
"So, if necessary, clarifications will be given but what I want to say is that please don't question the intention of the government, the government is very clear and government's job is well defined and it is pursuing the case very seriously," he said.
Dawood, who has been listed as as Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the United States for his alleged links with Al-Qaeda terror groups, vanished from Mumbai between 1992-93 and settled in a Gulf country.
Chaudhary said Dawood is an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case and a red corner notice has been issued against him. The CBI has alleged that he conspired with ISI to carry out serial blasts in Mumbai in which 257 people were killed and property worth Rs 32 crore damaged.
(With inputs from PTI)