The Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Saturday said senior advocate Ram Jethmalani had given a proposal about underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s surrender to India. However, it was with a condition which was not acceptable to the then chief minister of Maharashtra. According to Pawar, the condition was Dawood should be allowed to stay in a house and not prison, which was not acceptable. However, Jethmalani indicated that Dawood feared threat to his life and torture if he returned to India.
Pawar’s comments came in response to Jethmalani’s statement that Dawood was willing to return to India and that Pawar was fully aware about the offer, but did not respond.
In a candid admission, Pawar said, “It is true that Ram Jethmalani had given a proposal about Dawood’s willingness to return. But there was a condition that Dawood should not be kept in jail. Rather he be allowed to remain in a house. This was not acceptable. We said he had to face the law.”
Although this is not the first time when the issue has been brought to the public domain, there have been debates in the past on why the Indian government at the Centre and State had not been able to pursue the issue of Dawood’s return to India. The dreaded underworld don of the 1980s-90s, was always suspected to have made Pakistan his base after the 1993 serial bomb blasts.
The 1993 bomb blasts were triggered by the demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
The discussion about Dawood’s return was made during Pawar’s tenure as chief minister in the 1990s. Subsequent government’s at the Centre and State have pursued the matter with Pakistan on Dawood’s return but in vain. In 1995, the NDA government led by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also raised the matter with Pakistan. The Maharashtra government led by BJP and Shiv Sena had also promised to return the criminal and take the trial to its logical end.
The issue has once again come to fore with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh indicating that the BJP-led government would pursue the matter with Pakistan for Dawood Ibrahim’s hand over.