Tiger Hanif,a “classic fugitive” wanted in India for two bomb attacks in Gujarat in 1993,has been ordered to be extradited to India by a British court,the first successful extradition from UK obtained by New Delhi since 1993.
Hanif,whose full name is Mohammed Hanif Umerji Patel,51,was traced to a grocery store in Bolton,Greater Manchester in March 2010. He is said to be an associate of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
The Westminster magistrates’ court in London yesterday ordered Hanif’s extradition to India.
Hanif’s case is the first successful extradition obtained by India since the extradition treaty was signed with Britain in December 1993,sparking a wave of satisfaction among Indian officials here.
The court had yesterday described Hanif as a “classic fugitive”.
Hanif was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in February 2010 on an extradition warrant that alleged conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.
He is wanted in India for his alleged role in a grenade attack on a packed market place which killed an eight-year-old schoolgirl in Surat in 1993.
He is also accused of plotting to carry out a second grenade attack at a crowded railway station which seriously wounded 12 commuters.
Hanif can appeal against the extradition ruling,but the final order clearing his extradition will be signed by Home Secretary Theresa May.
Over the years,several individuals wanted by India have taken refuge in Britain,including some linked to the Khalistan movement.
But efforts to bring them to India to face justice did not succeed for several reasons.
The David Cameron government is currently dealing with the high profile extradition case of Islamic cleric Anu Qatada to Jordan.
Hanif’s extradition is seen as a “triumph for India’s criminal justice system” because one of his pleas to prevent extradition that he would be tortured in Indian jails as
overruled by the judge.
He had alleged that confessions of others involved with the Surat bombings had been allegedly gained through torture interrogations.
The court had sent a team to Gujarat to examine the jail conditions there and to assess the validity of Hanif’s plea,but clearly the argument “did not cut ice”,as an official put it.
There is a sense of satisfaction among officials in the Indian high commission,which ensured that during the extradition hearings,the legal team that included leading barrister Clare Montgomery was not found wanting on relevant facts and details.
Another Indian citizen whose extradition case is currently being heard in courts is Ravi Shankaran,an accused in the navy war room leak.
Meanwhile,during the hearing,the court was told that he had a prominent role in setting up a camp for members of the minority community who were rendered homeless during communal violence in Surat in 1992.
Prosecutor Montgomery told the court in one of the early hearings: “The refugee camp had a fund that was set up to collect donations and it was agreed by this defendant and three other witnesses that the fund would be employed to buy weapons”.
She said witness statements from a co-conspirator revealed that a meeting was called and the men decided to obtain weapons “for revenge”.
They planned to throw a live grenade into a busy market on 27 January 1993,but aborted the plot when they saw police,she explained.
However,they successfully exploded the device at the same site the next day,killing an eight-year-old girl on her way home from school,Montgomery said and added that the second attack took place in April 1993 at a railway station to stop a planned rally.