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Bhatkal’s arrest shows clear pattern on Indo-Nepal border

A few days ago, it was Lashkar-e-Taiba bomb-maker Abdul Karim Tunda. And now, it is Yasin Bhatkal, the founder of Indian Mujahideen. Utpal Parashar reports.

world Updated: Aug 29, 2013 13:15 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times

A few days ago, it was Lashkar-e-Taiba bomb-maker Abdul Karim Tunda. And now, it is Yasin Bhatkal, the founder of Indian Mujahideen.

Both the big catches by Indian security agencies have taken place close to the Indo-Nepal border, fanning speculations that the Himalayan nation played a crucial part in apprehending the wanted terrorists.

Like Tunda, who was shown as arrested from the Indo-Nepal border earlier this month, Indian authorities said that Bhatkal was arrested along the border on Thursday and not on Nepali soil.

“Bhatkal was arrested on the Indo-Nepal border and we can confirm that he was not nabbed in Nepal,” said Indian Embassy spokesperson Abhay Kumar.

Nepal Police officials claimed ignorance of the arrest.

“Reports about his arrest in Nepal are false. We haven’t arrested him nor handed him over to Indian authorities,” said Nepal Police spokesperson Nabaraj Silwal.

It is worth mentioning that both in Tunda and Bhatkal’s cases, initial reports about their arrests mentioned they were caught in Nepal.

Though both countries deny it, Tunda was reportedly arrested by Nepali 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 handover at the border is nothing new and there is a pattern to it due to lack of a new extradition treaty between both neighbours.

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 in the Himalayan nation.

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.

In 2010, Anthony Shing aka Ningkhan Shimray, the foreign affairs chief of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah) was arrested at the 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’.

Earlier in July the same year, another rebel leader from the north-east, Niranjan Hojai, the ‘commander-in-chief’ of the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) group of Assam, was also arrested in Nepal and handed over to Indian authorities. Officially, however, he arrest was shown from a place in Bihar along the international border.

India’s porous border with Nepal allows many Indian terrorists and criminals to enter the country undetected and hide. In June, notorious 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 the state government’s rehabilitation package. Since 2010, nearly 300 former militants have returned to their home state.

However, it is not only an Indo-Nepal practice. India has also successfully managed to get hold of many rebels of the north-east who were hiding in Bangladesh. Till Delhi signed an extradition treaty with Dhaka in January this year, several top militant leaders – including Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and NDFB commander-in-chief Ranjan Daimary – were arrested in Bangladesh and “pushed back” to India, an euphemism used by both countries to hide the actual place of capture.

In the cases of both Nepal and Bangladesh, the system has worked well for India.

First Published: Aug 29, 2013 13:12 IST