Nearly 17 years after twin bomb blasts shook Surat, India has requested Britain to extradite mastermind Mohammed Hanif Umerji Patel alias Tiger Hanif (49).
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sent a formal communication to the UK this week, after receiving a request from the Gujarat police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Hanif, a Gujarati who was living as a grocer in Bolton village, was arrested by Scotland Yard on February 16. Hanif had obtained a British passport, sources said, and had been hiding in the guise of Mohammed Patel.
After the blasts — in January 1993 and April 1993 — Hanif had escaped to the UK through Pakistan. The Interpol had issued a Red Corner notice against him as he was absconding.
The Surat blasts happened in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992 and the Bombay blasts of March 1993. Before planning the attacks, Hanif was a member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang. The D-gang had entrusted him with the Gujarat operations — mostly looking after smuggling of drugs and arms from Pakistan via Gujarat.
“He’s an important catch for us. We’ll push hard for his extradition as Hanif is wanted in India in several terrorist cases,” said a government source.
The final decision to seek extradition of an accused is taken at the level of the External Affairs Minister.
“We recently submitted a dossier on his involvement in the Surat bomb blasts to the MEA and the same has been forwarded to the UK government,” the source added.
After the trial, a TADA court in October 2008 had awarded 20 years imprisonment five accused — former Gujarat fisheries minister Mohammad Surti and four others. Several others were sentenced to 10 years in jail.