AFTER GETTING Samir Patel, an accused in the 2002 Ode riots case, extradited from the UK in October last year, the Gujarat SIT is now preparing for the extradition of two other accused in the case— Natu Patel and Rakesh Patel — from the US, where they are said to be hiding.
While Vijay Mallya’s arrest and subsequent bail in London on Monday stirred much discussion about the extradition treaty with the UK, incidentally, Samir Patel’s was the first instance of extradition from the UK through the Scotland Yard, since the time the treaty has been signed with India in 1992.
The Gujarat SIT is preparing to seek extradition of Natu Patel and Rakesh Patel, who are co-accused in the massacre case that took place in Ode on March 1, 2002, when 23 people, including nine women and children belonging to the Muslim community, were burnt to death by a mob.
According to SIT officials, Samir’s extradition from the UK was secured through a long process of notices and requests sent to the UK. Top SIT officer AK Malhotra said, “When I came here in 2009, I learnt that Samir Patel was arrested by the Gujarat police sometime after the riots, after which he secured bail. Meanwhile, he got a visa sponsored by a Gujarati Patel couple living in the UK and he fled. He continued to stay there, seeking asylum.”
Malhotra said when the SIT learnt that he was running a small shop, they requested the Interpol to issue a Red Corner notice against him. “We prepared a notice through Interpol. We had to follow it up many times with the MEA, transmitted to the Indian High Commission London and then to the Home Affairs and finally, to the extradition unit of the Scotland Yard. He had changed his location so they took a long time to trace him.”
After he was handed over to the SIT officials inside an Air India aircraft in October, he was formally arrested on landing in India, produced before the Anand court and sent to judicial custody. “He has applied for bail many times, but his bail has been rejected because he was absconding,” Malhotra said.
The SIT, which investigated the Ode massacre, said that the accused in the case fled to countries like the UK, US and even Australia during the course of investigation. While all other accused returned, Samir Patel, Natu Patel and Rakesh Patel continued to remain absconding. Officials, however, added that while Samir is the only case of extradition from the UK —India has also been unable to get hold of Nadeem Khan, an accused in the Gulshan Grover case as well as gangster Iqbal Mirchi, who died in the UK before he could be extradited.
An officer said, “The case of this riot accused in Gujarat is different from Vijay Mallya’s. The accused, Samir Patel, was already arrested before he absconded. In Mallya’s case, the ED has not filed a chargesheet yet. We have an arrangement with the UK for the summons, judicial report and a person is detained on the basis of warrant. But it is a procedure that will also grant you bail after you furnish hefty bail bonds worth millions of pounds. Poorer criminals like Samir Patel cannot afford to do that, while Mallya can. The treaty between the UK and India is for extradition of criminals, where dual criminality should be fulfilled in many cases, which means that whatever is an offence in India should be an offence in the UK.”