24 years on, UK extradites first in list of India’s most wanted

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Oct 19, 2016 09:09 IST
UK home secretary Amber Rudd signed the extradition order for Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, who was arrested on August 9 for his involvement in the Ode village riots in Gujarat in 2002. (AFP)

One flight taking off from Heathrow for New Delhi made history on Tuesday: it carried for the first time a person India wanted from Britain since the two countries signed an extradition treaty on September 22, 1992.

For 24 years, Indian security agencies have been frustrated at not being able to secure extradition or deportation of individuals from Britain on various grounds. Tuesday’s extradition of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel in a 2002 Gujarat riots-related case does not reflect a change of approach in London.

Unlike other individuals wanted by India, Patel, 40, did not oppose the extradition, but “consented” to it, thus cutting short the long process. He was arrested on August 9 and on September 22, home secretary Amber Rudd signed the extradition order.

The reasons for his “consent” to be extradited to India were not known, but Indian circles are delighted at the first successful extradition from Britain since then home minister SB Chavan and his British counterpart Ken Clarke signed the treaty. 

A team of Gujarat Police arrived here last week to escort Patel to India to face trial in a case of rioting at Ode village in Anand district of Gujarat on March 1, 2002, in which 23 people were reportedly killed.

Patel was arrested after the riots in India, but jumped bail and made his way to the London suburb of Hounslow, where Scotland Yard arrested him.

Unlike Patel, who “consented” to the extradition, Tiger Hanif, wanted in India in connection with the 1993 blasts in Surat, has consistently opposed extradition.

Hanif, an aide of mob boss Dawood Ibrahim, was arrested in Bolton, Greater Manchester, in March 2010 but lost all legal avenues to avoid it.

One of his pleas to prevent extradition – that he would be tortured in Indian jails – was overruled by the judge in the Westminster Magistrates Court in May 2012. The court sent a team to Gujarat to examine jail conditions and to assess the validity of Hanif’s plea, but the judge dismissed it and called him a “classic fugitive”.

Hanif, whose full name is Mohammed Umarji Patel, made a final appeal to then home secretary Theresa May soon after the court judgement in May 2012.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed to Hindustan Times last week there has been “no update” on Hanif’s final appeal with the home secretary. Since the appeal was made, the Home Office's standard response on Hanif’s case has been: “Further representations have been made to the Home Secretary in this case and they are currently being carefully considered.”

Over the years, India has sought individuals wanted for various crimes from Britain under the processes of extradition and deportation, the latter being a quicker process. However, in either process, India has not met with much success.

India revoked the passports of individuals such as Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya – allegedly involved in financial irregularities – and sought their deportation, but Britain has not yet agreed to the requests.

The list of individuals sought by India from Britain through extradition and deportation is said to be around 15. Some recent cases of individuals wanted for alleged offences in India are:

• Vijay Mallya (financial)

• Lalit Modi (financial)

• Ravi Shankaran (Indian Navy war room leak case)

• Tiger Hanif (1993 blasts in Gujarat)

• Nadeem Saifi (Gulshan Kumar murder case)

• Raymond Varley (UK citizen; child abuse cases in Goa)

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