India, Thailand to ink extradition treaty

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangkok next week may see New Delhi clinching an extradition treaty with Thailand – a country that has since long been used by India’s underworld dons and insurgent leaders as overseas bases.

“We are now close to signing an extradition treaty with Thailand,” Ashok K Kantha, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said. He was briefing mediapersons about the prime minister’s visit to Bangkok from May 30 to 31.

India and Thailand already have a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and the two countries also signed an Agreement for Transfer of Sentenced Persons during Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s visit to New Delhi as the chief guest of the Republic Day of India.
“We (India and Thailand) have strengthened cooperation between law enforcement agencies, particularly in counterterrorism and transnational crimes,” said Kantha.
New Delhi has been keen to sign the extradition treaty with Bangkok as it would complete the legal regime for bilateral cooperation to combat organized crimes and terrorism.

The underworld dons of Mumbai has since long been taking refuge in Thailand, not only to evade arrests by law-enforcers of India, but also to escape attacks by rival gangs.
Indian underworld don Chhota Rajan survived an assassination attempt on him in a hotel in Bangkok in September 2000, when his former boss Dawood Ibrahim purportedly sent sharpshooters to kill him. Though one of his associates was killed, Rajan managed to escape with a bullet injury and later also fled from a hospital to escape arrests by a Mumbai Police team that rushed to Bangkok to catch him after being informed about the assassination attempt.

The cooperation between Thai and Indian law-enforcing agencies, however, led to the arrest of gangster Santosh Shetty, one of Chhota Rajan’s close aides, in Bangkok in August 2011. He was later brought to Mumbai. He purportedly told his interrogators that he had in November 2010 killed another Mumbai gangster Bharat Nepali at Pattaya in Thailand.

Naga insurgent outfit National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) too maintained an office at Chiang Mai in Thailand. Leaders of United Liberation Front of Assam and other northeastern insurgent outfits too used Bangkok and other places in Thailand not only as safe havens, but also to network with international arms dealers. 

During his visit to Bangkok, Singh will have official talks with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra “on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest”.
“We expect a number of documents to be signed and announcements to be made on new initiatives,” said Kantha.

He said that India and Thailand had broad-based defence cooperation, ranging from training, joint exercises, anti-piracy operations, maintenance of security of sea lanes, and exchange of visits.

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