Dawood: Yet another case filed, but does India really want to catch him?

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As the United Nations updates its own information on Dawood Ibrahim's Pakistani addresses, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed yet another chargesheet against the gangster in connection with the Bharuch double murder case. The case relates to a large conspiracy of D-syndicate to murder several Hindu leaders to spread communal disharmony in the country. Dawood has, in fact, floated a new outfit to carry out this conspiracy, the NIA chargesheet says.

The issue of bringing Dawood Ibrahim to justice keeps coming up every now and then, and he is forever one of India's top wanted criminals. In fact, Union Home minister Rajnath Singh, too, was expected to raise the matter when he went to Pakistan recently, except that that visit did not go off quite the way he imagined.

Dawood Ibrahim

Increasingly, though, there is a big question mark on the sincerity and resolve of successive Indian governments on the Dawood affair. Many revelations have been made on the many missed opportunities to catch or kill the gangster. OneIndia has learnt of two new instances, interestingly both occurred in 1994, just over a year after the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts for which he is wanted, when India got its chances but did not go through with the 'kill".

South Africa plan gathering dust

In December 1994, former R&AW officer V. Balachandran was visiting Pretoria, South Africa, to discuss with that country's security agencies the arrangements that had to be made for Nelson Mandela's visit to India the following month. At the end of the meeting, Balachandran recalls, the South Africans surprised him by asking if the two countries could work together to nab Dawood.

The South Africans showed Balachandran copies of some 18 passports that Dawood used and said the gangster was expanding his business in Africa. They told him that Dawood visited South Africa frequently in connection with mandrax smuggling and made a presentation on the racket. They sought India's assistance to put an end to his activities, in return for which India could gain custody of him.

"They said they would handle the local issues and also give us all the intelligence on Dawood. They wanted us to come up with the operational plan to nab him. I told them we would be happy to do that, but I would need approval from the highest levels in government", Balachandran recalled.

The R&AW officer returned to Delhi and enthusiastically wrote up a report on the South African proposal and how the two countries could together bring D-company down. "This was the first time another country had offered to help us nab Dawood. I wrote the report in great detail", Balachandran says, "But the government of the day did not seem interested at all. It soon went into cold storage and is still gathering dust in some heap of files".

"Get Dawood, dead or alive" aborted

Just months before the South African proposal, India made its last serious 'get Dawood' effort. In fact, the Indian agencies were told to bring him in, dead or alive.

As per the plan, a team flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, and from there was to go to Karachi, Pakistan, where Dawood has been holed up in the posh Clifton Defence annexe since 1993. Just before the team set off for Karachi, however, it was suddenly told to abort the plan.

No one knows who was behind the directive, or why the mission was called off after the team had sent in a last minute report that they were confident of succeeding.

No government since 1994 has made a serious attempt to bring Dawood to justice, Balachandran says. "All these statements regarding Dawood that are issued from time to time is just talk, a matter of routine".

Ham-handed approach deliberate

When the UN recently updated its dossier on Dawood Ibrahim, now an internationally-designated criminal, it found that three of nine Karachi addresses that India had given for the gangster were false.

By itself, this may not be so damaging to India's case that Pakistan has been sheltering, protecting and using Dawood against India, but it confirms the general impression that successive governments' handling of the Dawood Ibrahim affair has been deliberately ham-handed, says another former R&AW official, Amar Bhushan.

"What we see today is all posturing. No one seriously wants to nab him. If he is brought to India alive and he speaks, he will end up exposing a lot of people in the system -- politicians, police, bureaucrats and many in the film industry", Bhushan says.

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