The speculation as to where terror operative Abdul Karim Tunda was arrested — in India or Nepal — had barely died down when Yasin Bhatkal, founder of the Indian Mujahideen, was arrested on Thursday.
Though both countries deny it, Tunda was reportedly arrested by the Nepal police in Kathmandu and handed over to their Indian counterparts a day later at the Banbasa-Mahendranagar border.
Such secret arrests of Indian terrorists and insurgents in Nepal and quiet handovers at the border are not new and there is a pattern to it due to lack of a new extradition treaty between the two countries.
The treaty, which New Delhi wants signed at the earliest, has been in the pipeline since 2005 but Nepal has been backtracking, citing political instability and transition.
Despite the absence of the treaty, both countries have been handing over criminals and terrorists across the border without anything on record to show they were arrested in another country.
However, as in the case of Tunda, the Indian authorities maintain Bhatkal was arrested on the border and not on the soil of Nepal.
“Bhatkal was arrested on the India-Nepal border and we can confirm that he was not nabbed in Nepal,” said Indian embassy spokesperson Abhay Kumar.
The Nepal side agrees.
Nepal police spokesperson Nabaraj Silwal said: “Reports about his arrest in Nepal are false. We haven’t arrested him, nor handed him over to the Indian authorities.”
In 2010, Anthony Shing aka Ningkhan Shimray, the foreign affairs chief of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah), was arrested at Tribhuwan International Airport here.
Shing was apparently on his way from Bangkok to New Delhi to take part in peace talks with the Indian government when he ‘disappeared’.
In July the same year, another ultra from the north-east, Niranjan Hojai, “commander-in-chief” of the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) group of Assam, was arrested in Nepal and handed over to the Indian authorities.
India’s porous border with Nepal allows many Indian terrorists and criminals to enter the country undetected and hide. In June, Bihar criminal Bablu Dubey was arrested in Kathmandu and later handed over to India.
Kashmiri terrorists have also used the Nepal route to enter India from Pakistan to avail of the state government’s rehabilitation package. Since 2010 nearly 300 former militants have returned to their home state.