Responding to criticism about the brazen manner in which the Italian Government had reneged on the commitment made to the Supreme Court of India, Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh stated in Parliament on 13.03.2013 that: “Our government has… insisted that the Italian authorities respect the undertakings they have given to the Hon'ble Supreme Court and return the two accused persons to stand trial in India. If they do not keep their word there will be consequences for our relations with Italy.” While this purported resolve on the part of the Government of India (GOI) is wholly welcome, it is, however, doubtful if the GOI would actually take all necessary steps to ensure the return of the said accused to India in the light of the GOI’s shameful past record in this regard.
It is a well-known fact that the GOI has done pretty little to bring Warren Anderson, accused No.1 in the Bhopal Gas Leak disaster criminal case, to justice even twenty-eight years after disaster. BGPMUS and BGPSSS would like to point out that it was based on a written undertaking that he would return to India to stand trial that Warren Anderson was allowed to fly back to the U.S. within six hours after he was arrested in Bhopal on 07.12.1984. It is, therefore, evident that the written undertaking on behalf of Anderson was given only for hoodwinking the Bhopal gas-victims and other concerned citizens and not for holding the accused to account. The connivance on the part of the GOI in allowing Warren Anderson to go scot-free is apparent on the face of it. In all these years, the Government of Madhya Pradesh too has not exerted any pressure on the GOI to seek extradition of Warren Anderson from the U.S. to stand trial in India. Other instances of tardiness/active connivance on the part of the GOI in allowing accused persons to flee the country include the following:
- On 29.07.1993, Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian businessperson who acted as a conduit for bribes in the Bofors scandal, managed to escape from India because of the unwillingness on the part of the GOI to take timely action despite having adequate prima facie evidence against him in the matter. On two more occasions in 2006 and 2007, the GOI intervened to let him completely off the hook.
- On 22.12.1995, Kim Davy, who was instrumental in air-dropping a large consignment of AK-47 rifles, pistols, anti-tank grenades, rocket launchers and thousands of rounds of ammunition in Purulia district of West Bengal on 17.12.1995, was allowed to escape from the Mumbai airport despite the Indian Air Force managing to force-land the aircraft in which he was travelling. Since then, Kim Davy, who has actively aided and abetted terrorist activities in India, has found a safe haven in Denmark and the GOI – other than pretending that it is seeking Kim Davy’s extradition to India – has done little to mount pressure on the Government of Denmark to hand-over the terrorist to India.
- Peter Bleach, co-accused in the same Purulia arms-drop case, who was arrested by the police at the Mumbai airport on 22.12.1995 and who was subsequently sentenced to life-imprisonment, was granted Presidential pardon at the behest of the British Government and was allowed to leave the country on 04.02.2004. As to why the British Government had come to the defense of a terrorist and as to why the GOI was lenient enough to let go a terrorist, who was caught red-handed while aiding and abetting terrorism in India, are matters that require serious introspection.
- Based on an undertaking by the French Government on 06.01.1998, the two French nationals Francois Clavel and Elle Philippe, who were arrested in 1996 off the coast of Kochi as accused in the Ocean survey espionage case, were allowed to leave the country on the condition that they would return to India by 10.05.1998. Although the French Government has reneged on the undertaking for the last fifteen years, the GOI is yet to take the French Government to task for failing to ensure the return of the said two accused French nationals to India to stand trial.
- On 14.05.2004, Rabinder Singh, a Joint Secretary in the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW – the external intelligence agency of the Government of India) and who was suspected to be a CIA mole in RAW, managed to escape to the U.S. reportedly with copies of several sensitive documents. The GOI has till date not exerted any pressure on the U.S. Administration to handover the traitor, who has compromised India’s security.
- On 16.07.2012, an Indian fisherman was killed and three other Indian fishermen were injured when without any provocation their fishing boat was fired upon by guards aboard a U.S. Naval ship just off the coast of Dubai. The GOI had done little to hold the U.S. Government responsible for the mindless crime and to take necessary action accordingly.
- Although, as per the U.S. Court verdict of 24.01.2013, David Headley was found guilty of playing a key role in masterminding the Mumbai terrorist strike of 26.11.2008, the GOI has not exerted sufficient pressure on the U.S. Government to handover the terrorist to India. The GOI is reluctant to raise the obvious question as to why the U.S. Government is intent on shielding Headley and shying away from extraditing him to India if the U.S. Government has nothing to hide regarding the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
There can be no solution to these problems until and unless the GOI and the concerned political parties in this country are willing to give up their subservient attitude towards Western Powers and are ready to uphold the dignity of the people of India. The sooner they do so, the better.
The statement was issued by Abdul Jabbar Khan, Convener, BGPMUS & N.D.Jayaprakash