Diplomatic victory in sight: How India is ensuring 26/11 accused Rana is extradited
New Delhi, Jan 15: While at first it was being stated that India would have to wait a while longer before it could extradite Tahawwur Rana, news coming in now suggests that the process would be completed sooner.
Rana is an important link in the 26/11 attack mystery. He has been accused by India of helping David Headley, who under the reconnaissance of targets at Mumbai which were attacked by ten terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
Rana was convicted in the United States and sentenced to 14 years in jail. His term ends in 2021, but India has been making all efforts to ensure that he is brought to India sooner. Bringing Headley to India would not be possible as he has entered into a plea bargain deal with the US, as a result of which he cannot be extradited or awarded a death sentence.
Rana, 58, a resident of Chicago, was arrested in 2009 on the charges of plotting the 26/11 terror attack. According to the US officials, he is set to be released in December 2021. The Indian government, with "full co-operation" from the Trump administration, is currently working on completing the necessary paperwork to ensure the extradition before his current jail term ends in December 2021.
Earlier this month government had told the Lok Sabha that the Centre had engaged with the US authorities under terms of the India-US Extradition Treaty of 1997 for the extradition of US based individuals for their role in the 26/11 attacks.
In the US the double jeopardy clause prevents a punishment for the crime twice. Due to this, India renewed its bid to secure Rana's custody on the ground that he was involved in the planning of an attack on the National Defence College in New Delhi. There is also forgery case registered against him in India.
India's Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Law and Justice and the US' State Department and the Department of Justice, each of them has their own extradition procedure in place.
Following a recent visit to the US by India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) team, officials from both sides have agreed to cut down on the bureaucratic procedures so that all the necessary paperwork is ready before the current jail term of Rana ends in December 2021.
The NIA is expected to have direct communication with their US counterparts to cut short the timeframe and bureaucratic formalities.
In case, the US government in co-operation with the Indian government is unable to complete the necessary paperwork before that, officials here said it would become very tough to ensure a smooth extradition of Rana once he is released from the jail in Chicago, where he is currently serving his sentence.
As per the existing US law, Rana, a Pakistan-born Canadian national, would most probably be deported to Canada if India and the US are unable to complete the cumbersome extradition process before his release.
However, people familiar with the matter told PTI that there is a "desire" so there is an assurance from the highest level in the Trump administration that all necessary steps would be taken in timely manner to ensure extradition of Rana before his release.
According to the US officials, the extradition of Rana would help in cementing the relationship between the two countries, boost up the counter-terrorism co-operation and enhance America's image among Indians.
During their recent visit, the NIA team also received guidance from their US counterparts on the paperwork which India needs to complete to meet the requirements of the American judiciary system and their standards.