Riyadh acts

Saudi Arabia’s deportation of suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Fasih Mohammed, though excessively delayed, will enable India to put the latter on trial.

Fasih was wanted for his role in the 2010 blasts in Bangalore and Delhi. However, he fled the country, forcing India to seek an Interpol Red Corner notice for him.  When it came to India’s notice that he was in Saudi Arabia, it began pushing for his deportation.

Even a year ago such efforts would have seemed a lost cause, given the fact that rarely have the Saudis deported criminals, especially terrorists belonging to groups backed by Pakistan, to India. It was only in June this year when their efforts to get the Saudis to deport Abu Jundal to India met with success that hopes for deportation of other terror suspects brightened. Jundal after all was no ordinary terrorist. A handler of 10 LeT terrorists who unleashed violence in Mumbai in 2008, Jundul was in a position to reveal to Indian investigators the identity of those present in the ‘control room’ during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.  

An emboldened India pressed for more deportations. But these, including that of Fasih, did not come through immediately, raising concern in Delhi that Riyadh’s co-operation might have been a one-off event. Fasih’s deportation now, which comes soon after the deportation of another terror suspect, A Rayees, will revive confidence in Delhi that its ties with the Saudis have indeed changed for the better.

Much of the anxiety and delay over Fasih’s deportation could have been avoided if Indian officials had been more sensitive to Saudi concerns. It is believed that Saudi officials were annoyed with their Indian counterparts laying bare to the media details of the co-operation that culminated in Jundal’s deportation. It had apparently embarrassed them vis-a-vis their Pakistani friends. Consequently, they dragged their feet on sending Fasih to India. Indian officials must be more circumspect in revealing details on such matters henceforth. Besides, when presenting a request for deportation, India must put up a fool-proof case and provide all documentation without having to be asked for it.

India must ensure Fasih a fair trial. This will convince the Saudis and other countries, which hesitate to send back terror suspects to India, that Delhi is committed to fighting terrorism through the courts and to protecting the rights of even those accused of terror attacks.

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