IB goofed up: Chidambaram

IB goofed up: Chidambaram

IB goofed up: Chidambaram

The blunder reflects not just a huge embarrassment for New Delhi but also shows gaps in communication between multiple counter-terrorism, security and investigating agencies.
Until a year a after Khan’s arrest by the Mumbai police, officers in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the IB and the Mumbai police acted like “babus”, pushing files between themselves and yet forgetting to strike off his name from the list of India’s most wanted fugitives.

The Mumbai police arrested Khan  on May 21, 2010, but he continued to figure on India’s most wanted list as the security agency did not its record despite being duly intimated, according to the Union Home Ministry. The information related to his arrest was not shared with the CBI.

Seven months after Khan was apprehended, the CBI contacted Mumbai police on January 27, 2011. On May 17, 2011, the Mumbai police requested cancellation of the ‘Red Corner’ alert against Khan as he was now in police custody and not an absconder.

“The subject is no more wanted by Mumbai Police on account of his arrest by Mumbai Police on 21.05.2010”, it said.

Inquiries by the Home Ministry, accessed by Deccan Herarld, reveal that prior to informing the CBI (one year after the arrest) after it sought information from it (that is, seven months after the arrest), the Mumbai police in January, 2011, informed IB’s Mumbai branch of Khan’s arrest. “This information, unfortunately, was not reflected in the list of fugitives maintained by the authorities and was overlooked while the list was prepared in March 2011”, the Home Ministry said, leaving open the question as to who should be held accountable for the blunder.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram accepted it as a “mistake” and, while taking “responsibility”, said the inclusion of Khan on the list of most wanted fugitives given to Pakistan was a “genuine error”. “There was a mistake. We are not trying to blame anyone. We take responsibility for it,” Chidambaram said, adding that Khan's name would be struckk off the list.

It transpire that the CBI, IB and the Mumbai police had “informally” known about the arrest long before the list was submitted to Pakistan, but sat on ceremonies to vet the final list. In the case of the IB, it was a colossal lapse also reflecting its “work culture.”
When talks between the home secretaries of India and Pakistan were held on March 28 and 29, 2011, a list, which included Khan’s name, was handed over to Pakistan. The same list was given to Pakistan during talks on March 6, 2007, at Islamabad, Home Ministry sources said.

 “The failure to formally communicate the fact of the arrest of the subject person on May 21, 2010, to the CBI has resulted in the name being retained by the CBI. It is possible that the said failure was the result of a genuine oversight by the Mumbai police. There was also a lapse on the part of IB in not reflecting the information received by it while preparing the list in March,” the ministry said in its explanation.