Why Dubai is no longer a safe haven for Indian fugitives?

With 3 high-profile extraditions taking place in less than 2 months, the UAE is longer a safe haven for criminals and alleged offenders absconding from India.

Wednesday night, Dubai-based businessman Rajeev Saxena, wanted in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, and corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar was deported and induced back to India in a plane belonging to the Aviation Research Centre, the aviation wing of India’s external intelligence agency RAW.

Everything this is part of India’s improving relations with the Middle-Eastern country, which once housed the likes of underworld don and 1993 Bombay serial blasts prime accused Dawood Ibrahim.

Upswing in cooperation

India managed to hit it big last month with the extradition of VVIP chopper scam accused Christian Michel from Dubai, a development which works in the service of the BJP-led government just a few months before the national elections.

Different big achievement was the deportation of Ibrahim’s aide Farooq Takla, who was brought from Dubai to Mumbai in March last year.

This matches the 2016 extradition of Abdul Wahid Siddibapa, who was allegedly associated with terror outfit Indian Mujahideen. He was 1st arrested in the UAE in 2014 but was deported only 2 years later, as Indian agencies believe Pakistan worked hard to ensure he wouldn’t be deported.

Cooperation with Saudi Arabia has also improved in recent years, the prime example being the extradition of 26/11 plotter Abu Jundal in 2012, in spite of Pakistan’s push to stop it.

Credit to the Modi touch

UAE’s envoy to India, Ahmed Al Banna, had this week credited important strategic ties and the “personal” touch between the control of the 2 countries as the reason for Michel’s extradition.

His view is supported by Vijay Chauthaiwale, the BJP’s foreign affairs department head, who states that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to the UAE and his efforts to build friendship have helped the countries’ relations.

“Prime Minister Modi in his tours has focussed on multi-dimensional friendship. The new-found friendship between UAE and India has led to these three high-profile extraditions. There is no doubt that Modi has been able to build stronger and deeper ties, which has opened up many avenues,” Chauthaiwale told ThePrint.

Other factors also at play

However, others say the development in relations is a combination of various factors and not just the Modi factor.

“One cannot entirely credit it to the visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In all these cases, India has leveraged its position vis-à-vis the countries involved,” said Sushant Sareen, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.

Sareen underlined that in all cases, the Indian government has struggled hard, and there have been instances of quid pro quo too.

An open secret that no one in the security establishment really talks about is the case of India sending back Dubai’s Princess Latifa, who had allegedly fled from her family. Latifa was believed to be picked up by Indian agencies off the Goa coast last year and handed back to the UAE. Experts quarrel that this has led to the sudden surge in the friendship between India and the UAE.

Anil Trigunayat, India’s former ambassador to Jordan and a master on the Middle-East, says the groundwork began way back in 2008, with high-profile visits and exchanges taking place.

“India has worked on extradition treaties and on building a different level of relationship for long. Over the years, these countries have realized where the butter lies. They see India as a better bet. Not to forget the fact that the strong Indian diaspora has also played a role,” Trigunayat, a distinguished fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation said.

He added that such extraditions also help these countries showcase their efforts in the global fight against terrorism.

White collar criminals, not terrorists

However, K.C. Singh, India’s former ambassador to the UAE and Iran, claimed that getting a “white collar criminal” was comfortable than a terrorist.


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