Centre left red-faced over Dawood remark

Centre left red-faced over Dawood remark

Govt says it is not aware of gangster's whereabout

Centre left red-faced over Dawood remark

The government on Tuesday found itself on the wrong foot on Dawood Ibrahim after it informed Parliament that it has no idea about the underworld don’s location, contradicting its earlier stand that he is in Pakistan.

A red-faced government is preparing for the Lok Sabha session on Wednesday “to clarify the mistake” after the written reply to a question raised by BJP MP Nityanand Rai on extradition of Dawood as well as other terrorists triggered a controversy.

“The subject (Dawood) has not been located so far. Extradition process with regard to Dawood Ibrahim would be initiated once the subject is located,” Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, Minister of State for Home, said in the reply.

India has been maintaining that Dawood, who is wanted in  the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and other cases, is sheltered by the ISI in Pakistan and has continuously asked Islamabad to hand him over. Pakistan has consistently denied this.

Once the issue came in the public domain, the Congress latched on to the subject while Kiren Rijiju, another minister of state for home, said: “The government’s stand is consistent. He is in Pakistan. India has been providing information about his whereabouts to Pakistan.”

Chaudhary held a meeting with Union Home Secretary L C Goyal on the issue of correcting the facts in Parliament. Sources blamed a “bureaucratic goof-up” for the reply, which they said were prepared in consultation with the External Affairs Ministry.

The Congress went on an offensive against the NDA with former minister of state for home R P N Singh saying, “Today’s (Tuesday) statement compromises our national interest,” as the then UPA government had given Pakistan enough evidence for Dawood’s presence there.

Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP and former minister, said, “If a second MoS has said Dawood is in Pakistan, then the embarrassment for the nation by this kind of uncoordinated statement-making by government is really a disgrace.”

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi told reporters in Parliament House that the statement was “shocking” as the government has “replicated Pakistan’s official position” on the matter.
“It also means Modi government is loosening its pressure on Pakistan. I am sure, the ISI must be thanking us,” Gogoi said.

Former home secretary R K Singh, now a BJP MP, sought to defend the government response saying, “ISI keeps shifting him and if Home Ministry has replied, it must be right.” However, another BJP MP Satyapal Singh, a former Mumbai Police Commissioner, said, “Any criminal keeps on changing location, it is common knowledge that he is in Pakistan.”

Foot in mouth

Within a week, this is the second time that response to a written question has put Minister of State for Home Haribhai Chaudhary in trouble. On April 29, his answer that marital rape cannot be made criminal has triggered a controversy. The questioner was DMK MP Kanimozhi in Rajya Sabha.

Don files

* India had handed over several dossiers on Dawood to Pak giving details about his locations.
* In December last year, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to hand Dawood over to it.
* In November last year, Home Minister said Dawood was then staying at the Afghanistan-Pak border.

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