Union minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has said India is always prepared to “neutralise” its enemies such as mob boss Dawood Ibrahim and Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, irrespective of where they are.
As his remarks were reported in the media on Monday, Rathore sought to clarify through a tweet that he had been misquoted.
“Hindustan ka dushman chahe kahin bhi baitha ho, ye galatfahmi me na rahe ki Hindustan unke khilaaf kuch soch nahi raha hai. Hum har waqt apne dushman ko neutralise karne ke liye taiyyar rahte hain (India’s enemies, wherever they are, must never be under the wrong impression that India is not thinking about them. We are always ready to neutralise our enemies),” he told Aaj Tak channel on Sunday.
Saeed, who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, is based in Lahore while Indian security officials believe Ibrahim, wanted for the 1993 Mumbai bombings, is sheltering in Karachi. Rathore’s remarks came against the backdrop of a sharp downturn in bilateral ties after the collapse of planned talks between the national security advisers.
Rathore was responding to a question on what the government is doing about Ibrahim and Saeed, who are both wanted in India. It was pointed out to him that since the NDA government came to power last year, nothing had been done about fugitives sheltering in Pakistan, except for preparing a dossier.
He responded that India was ready to use other options as well. “Saam, daam, dand, bhed, sab cheezon ka istemaal hoga. Dossier bhi denge aur baaki sab kuch bhi hoga (Every available option will be used. We will give the dossier, and other means too will be used),” he said.
Asked whether there could be a covert operation against such fugitives, Rathore, a former colonel, said: “It is possible that an operation is carried out. But it will not be discussed before it is launched. We might talk about it after it’s over. It depends on whether the government says it should be a covert operation or a special operation.
“It is possible that a covert operation never gets discussed. Several countries do this. Special operation can be discussed but not before it is launched. It is the government’s decision when to launch an operation. Maybe it is happening right now. Maybe not. But a discussion can take place happen after the operation.”
Hindustan Times had reported last month that Indian security agencies have documents to prove Dawood, his wife Mehjabeen Shaikh, son Moeen Nawaz and daughters Mahrukh, Mehreen and Mazia are based in Pakistan with the fugitive currently operating out of the upscale Clifton neighbourhood of Karachi. Security agencies are in possession of an April 2015 telephone bill in the name of his wife Mehjabeen with D-13, Block-4, Karachi Development Authority, Sch-5, Clifton, as the installation address.
Interpol has issued a red corner notice, or an international arrest warrant, for Dawood and several of his associates for their involvement in the 1993 serial blasts that killed 257 people and injured hundreds more.
Rathore blamed Pakistan for derailing all talks held since 1998 either through attacks or terrorist strikes. “Terror and talks can’t go together,” he said.
He also blamed Pakistan for the collapse of the talks between the NSAs, saying Islamabad had “moved back” from the agreement between the Prime Ministers when they met in the Russian city of Ufa.
Asked if talks would be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month, he said, “There are ups and downs in relationships. Pakistan will remain a neighbour, let’s see what happens in the next three weeks.”
He added, “The Indian govt still believes all things can be resolved by talks, but we will talk only on terror. We should create an atmosphere whereby terror ends and then we will talk on all issues.”
After the army's strike in Myanmar, Rathore had tweeted on June 9: “Indian Army strikes into the heart of militants. Desh ke dushmano ko karara jawab. Kushal netratva, Majboot sarkar PM@narendramodi#56inchRocks.”
Pakistan condemned Rathore's remarks calling them "irresponsible and imprudent".