In a setback to India's high-pitched campaign blaming Islamabad for shielding terrorists, another “fugitive” that India insisted was hiding in Pakistan, Feroz Abdul Khan, has been traced to a Mumbai jail.
Feroz, 51, had been arrested more than a year ago, in February 2010, for his involvement in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that was investigated by the CBI.
But the CBI — as a home ministry official put it — “forgot” to remove his name from the list of terror suspects against whom Interpol red corner notices were issued.
The superintendent of police and his deputy were transferred out of the Interpol Wing and one inspector suspended.
Government sources said the wing did not appear to be proactively updating the red corner notice list, leading to two embarrassing incidents. But the opposition wasn't satisfied.
“It is shameful. Somebody in the government must own up…. It gives Pakistan a stick to beat India with,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar said.
CPI (M) central committee member Nilotpal Basu said, “The callousness is a matter of grave concern… This is a very sensitive issue. And the way the home ministry is handling it is bringing embarrassment to the country.”
Feroz’s name figured in the list of 50 most wanted terror suspects handed over to Pakistan by home secretary GK Pillai to his Pakistani counterpart in March this year.
Feroz is the second terror suspect in the list to have surfaced in the country. Wazhul Kamar Khan was the first. He continued to be on the list though he had been arrested by the Maharashtra police in May last and released on bail by a court.
Home minister P Chidambaram had then spared the CBI — the nodal agency for Interpol related matters — on grounds that the Maharashtra police did not formally request for Wazhul's name to be taken off the Interpol list.
The CBI administratively comes under the department of personnel and training, which has the Prime Minister as the cabinet minister in charge, and not the home minister.
But the home ministry has come to be associated with all security and investigative agencies in public mind.
Within minutes of the lapse coming to light, home ministry spokesman Onkar Kedia obliquely hinted at the distinction. “The CBI has intimated MHA that… the name of Feroz figured erroneously… He was in custody, but his name was not removed from the list. CBI will check other names that they provided.”
NIA simultaneously issued a statement that it had verified the 10 names they had provided for the list of 50 wanted men. “According to NIA probe all these 10 accused are suspected to be in Pakistan,” the statement said.