The Indian government, despite all efforts, has failed to bring back the fugitives of Indian origin taking refuge in the United Kingdom.
The names of Indian fugitives taking refuge in Britain include Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, Ravi Shankaran, Sanjay Bhandari and Nirav Modi.
India has faced this failure when Britain has held 13 rounds of meetings to make a free trade agreement with India. Once the trade agreement is signed, lakhs of jobs will be created for the people there.
Besides, foreign exchange will also increase in the treasury of London government.
Elections are near but the government is not
BJP was assuming that by bringing these fugitives back to India before the Lok Sabha elections, it will make it a big issue to seek votes. But now this does not seem possible for the government, because only a few months are left for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
According to experts, there are many reasons behind the failure to bring back the fugitives. Among these, bilateral relations and the fugitives’ relations with British political figures are most important.
The biggest failure for India so far is regarding former Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Mallya, who absconded from India 6 years ago. After exhausting all legal avenues, in April 2020, Mallya applied for asylum with the UK Home Office.
In which he said that if he was sent to India, his life was in danger.
Despite it being more than 40 months since the court order to send him back to India, Mallya is also in London.
The Government of India had answered all the questions of Mallya placed before the court in which it had also assured the court that Mallya would be kept in a clean jail.
An official associated with the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India told Bhaskar that now it is clearly visible that Rishi Sunak’s government is deliberately protecting Mallya.
According to sources, Mallya has invested a lot of money in Britain and has good relations with the political people there. For this reason, the MPs there never accused Boris Johnson or the Sunak government of saving Mallya.
The Government of India has also not been able to bring back Nirav Modi, who was involved in the Punjab National Bank scam of Rs 11,400 crore, from London to India.
Nirav Modi, who along with his relative Mehul Choksi, had defrauded Punjab National Bank of Rs 11400 crore, is currently in a private jail in London.
According to sources, he should have been sent to India before December 2022 but due to secret reasons the British government is not sending him to India. Modi was arrested in London on India’s request in March 2019, but it has been more than four and a half years.
The elected politicians of Britain have raised questions about 120 times in the British Parliament regarding the release of Jagtar Singh Johal, but no one has ever raised any question about sending the fugitive back to India.
The Indian government arrested Jagtar Singh Johal in November 2017 on charges of being associated with the Khalistani organization.
Former Indian Navy officer Ravi Shankaran is the main accused in the 2006 Navy War Room leak. It is accused of stealing more than 7000 sensitive pages. He had sold these pages for 200 million dollars to brokers sitting in western countries.
In April 2014, London Court refused to send Shankaran to India, ignoring CBI’s appeal. The court had said that the documents presented by the CBI did not reveal that Shankaran had stolen sensitive papers.
The CBI was disgraced in this entire case because later it was revealed that there were no signatures on the documents submitted by the CBI to the court, and the statements of the other witnesses in the case were also taken wrongly.
A CBI officer associated with the investigation, on the condition of anonymity, told Bhaskar that from the entire case it seemed that the CBI did not want to bring Shankaran back. The biggest example of which was that the very basic rules of investigation were ignored in this case.
Interpol’s Red Corner Notice is still issued against Shankaran. Shankaran, now 59, lives in a lavish apartment near Chelsea port in west London.
Similarly, arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari is also far away from the grip of the Government of India. Bhandari’s name comes among the biggest arms dealers of India. In November 2022, a British court had ordered his deportation back to India.
Till May 2014, no major defense deals in India were done without Bhandari’s involvement. Bhandari had fled to Britain in 2016.
According to CBI sources, Bhandari’s name is also involved in the Rs 7900 crore Integrated Air Command and Control Systems scam, in which the agency had filed an FIR in December 2022, and the Rs 2900 crore Pilatus aircraft deal. 61-year-old Bhandari is also accused of transferring money from a person associated with Congress through hawala.
According to sources, Bhandari’s case is still pending with the Sunak government. He has challenged the decision of Westminster Magistrates Court to send Bhandari back in another court.
Even if this court does not give a verdict in his favor, Bhandari’s extradition will still depend on the British government.
A retired Indian Foreign Service officer told Bhaskar that India and other Asian countries are still looked down upon in Britain. Due to this, British officials and leaders do not give much importance to Indian rules.
For them, we are still a country with many flaws, where the police and justice process are compromised on the basis of money.
The result is that despite providing lakhs of proofs, the British people remain sympathetic towards the fugitives from India. All of them have a lot of influence and money and hence their extradition is being delayed.