Former Maharashtra chief minister Sharad Pawar said on Saturday Ram Jethmalani’s proposal on allowing 1993 blasts mastermind Dawood Ibrahim to surrender was rejected in the 90s as a notorious criminal like him could not be put merely under house arrest.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief said the senior lawyer’s proposal was dismissed as it was “conditional”.
Jethmalani told a newspaper earlier that Ibrahim was ready to surrender to the Indian authorities in the 90s, but Pawar did not carry the matter forward.
“Ram Jethmalani had given a proposition that’s true, but it was conditional. He had put such a condition wherein Dawood would not have been arrested if he had come to India. You cannot not arrest a person who has so many cases against him. Everybody needs to follow the law but Jethmalani ji did not accept the suggestion,” said Pawar. “The condition was that after Dawood comes to Bombay, he won’t be arrested but permitted to stay at home,” Pawar added.
The newspaper quoted Jethmalani as saying that Ibrahim’s aide Chhota Shakeel had contacted him in London with the offer and had asked that both of them be kept under house arrest during the trial, but the state government had been unable to guarantee the same. Jethmalani, however, said there was a mistake in the newspaper report and he had actually met Ibrahim.
“Dawood said that he was ready to come back, but needed assurance from the government that they will not use third degree... and will keep him under house arrest. He said that he was ready to face the punishment if he was wrong,” Jethmalani said.
“When he said this, I sent this in writing to Sharad Pawar... I told my son to inform about this offer to the local authorities,” he added.
Ibrahim is India's most wanted man for his part in deadly 1993 bombings in Mumbai. Ibrahim and his brother Anis allegedly masterminded the bombings that killed at least 250 people and wounded more than 700.
The 52-year-old underworld boss has eluded authorities for the past 20 years. He is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said on Saturday Ibrahim’s proposal to surrender posed “a very serious question” and added that Pawar, the then CM of Maharashtra, must respond over this issue.
“This is a very serious matter. I think Ram Jethmalani was referring to something that happened 15-20 years ago. And if this offer was made a little after the terrorist attacks in Bombay (Mumbai) behind which we all know that Dawood Ibrahim and his groups based in Pakistan were involved, then of course this becomes a very serious question. But this question can only be answered by Sharad Pawar and Ram Jethmalani,” BJP leader MJ Akbar said.
Hindustan Times reported in May that in 1994, CBI DIG Neeraj Kumar had spoken thrice to Ibrahim who was ready to surrender. According to the report, the agency didn’t take Ibrahim up on his offer.
“I spoke to a jittery Dawood three times in June 1994… He seemed to be toying with the idea of surrendering but had one worry — his rival gangs could finish him off if he returned to India. I told him his safety would be the responsibility of the CBI,” Kumar told HT. He later denied making such a remark.
Read:'Dawood Ibrahim wanted to surrender, CBI didn’t go along'