A British lower court has ruled in favour of New Delhi’s plea for the extradition of Tiger Hanif, who is wanted in connection with two bomb attacks in Surat in 1993, in which an eight-year-old girl was killed and at least a dozen people were injured.
The fact is that till date, India has not succeeded in any of its extradition attempts in Britain. This week’s ruling by Westminster Magistrates Court has been described as the first successful extradition from Britain obtained by India since the two countries signed an extradition treaty in 1992. It is not.
In September 1999, another lower court had ruled in favour of the extradition of Bollywood composer Nadeem Saifi, who was wanted in connection with the 1997 killing of Cassette King Gulshan Kumar.
Nadeem, protesting his innocence and claiming discrimination against Muslim suspects in India, appealed and New Delhi’s case was thrown out by the High Court. Admittedly, the ineptitude of the Indian investigation had a lot to do with the failure.
But like Nadeem, Hanif can appeal not only to the High Court and then the Supreme Court, he can take his case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In 2000, a major plank of Nadeem’s defence was that as a Muslim, he would not receive a fair trial in Mumbai, then ruled by the Shiv Sena. Hanif is wanted in BJP-ruled Gujarat.
Strasbourg was where the case of Karamjit Singh Chahal ended up in 1996. A Khalistan supporter who was wanted in connection with Punjab terrorism, Chahal had filed for political asylum in Britain, and his fight against a deportation order dragged on for years. Finally, the European court overturned his deportation, citing the need to respect the UN’s ban on torture.
The Chahal verdict continues to torment British attempts to deport foreign nationals it views as a threat to its own national security. But London has made energetic efforts to deport Abu Qatada, a Jordanian whose views are said to have influenced the 9/11 terrorists. The home minister has extracted a promise from Jordan that Qatada will not be tortured if he’s put on a plane to Amman.