Wednesday, January 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

FBI chief gives no assurance on Indian list
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Home Minister L. K. Advani with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Central Bureau of Investigation Director P. C. Sharma meets with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller
Central Bureau of Investigation Director P. C. Sharma (right) meets with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI photos

New Delhi, January 22
The visiting Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) chief, Mr Robert S.Mueller, will be leaving tomorrow for Islamabad and will take up among other things the issue pertaining to the list of 20 wanted persons handed over by India to Pakistan and also address New Delhi’s concern relating to terrorism emanating from the neighbouring country.

The FBI chief, who met Home Minister L.K. Advani, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, CBI Director P.C. Sharma and Intelligence Bureau chief K.P. Singh, besides Union Home Secretary Kamal Pande, did not, however, give any concrete assurance on the list of 20, handed over by India to Pakistan.

However, the chief of the US premier investigating agency underlined the “substantial” exchange of information between the two countries, especially after the September 11 terror attack in America and underlined the need for greater cooperation in the field of combating terrorism, computer crime and in areas like drug trafficking.

On the shootout incident outside the American Center in Kolkata this morning, Mr Mueller was not willing to swallow hook, line and sinker the theory, which they believe to be serving vested Indian interest blaming today’s incident in Kolkata on the banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and its offshoot Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami.

The USA had banned Harkat-ul-Mujahideen several years ago after which the outfit changed its name to Harkat-ul-Ansar.

Significantly, the Kolkata incident coincided with the visit of the FBI chief to India and the fourth meeting of the Indo-US Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism, which concluded here today.

“Motivation and identities of the attackers are being ascertained and it will be premature to react on the nature of the attack before the investigation had been completed,” Mr Mueller told newspersons at the American Embassy here.

“I would like to wait and see what the investigation discloses about the purpose of the attack, he reiterated when asked whether the incident was a terrorist attack.

Stating that he was aware of the claims of responsibility being made by various terrorist and underworld groups, Mr Mueller said he did not know how to weigh these claims at this stage.

Earlier, an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson had said that Dubai-based mafia don Farhan alias Aftab Malik is reported to be behind the attack on the American Center. The name of terrorist group Harkat-ul-e-Jehadi was also being linked to the incident.

Home Ministry officials pointed out that the involvement of Farhan Malik’s outfit in the Kolkata shoot out is “clearly indicative of some of the Pakistani supported groups targeting India through third countries.”

“It also brings out continued use of criminal/fundamentalist groups by Pakistan for perpetrating terrorist crimes. Farhan Malik who is living in Dubai with a Pakistani passport is a frequent visitor to Pakistan,” they said.

To a specific question, Mr Mueller refused to accept that the incident was an attack on the US interests in India. “There are no facts available with us which suggest that the incident in Kolkata was an attack on the interest of the United States,” he said.

Meanwhile, the CBI handed over a list of 21 persons wanted by the agency from the USA in connection with various terrorist and economic offences to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), including nine Punjab terrorists, for speedy extradition to India.

The list was handed over to the visiting FBI Director Robert S Mueller by CBI Director P C Sharma when the former called on him at his North Block office here, sources said.

According to sources, the CBI has already issued Letter Rogatories for the arrest of these 21 wanted persons and their extradition to India for trial. However, there had been no response from the U.S agency.

The list contains the names of Sukhvinder Singh, Gurvant Singh, Bhupinder Singh, Preetam Singh, Jagtar Singh, Kashmir Singh Pala, Jagjeet Singh Billa, Lakhbir Singh and Gurdev Singh Chotu (all Punjab militants wanted in several cases of militant attacks during the days of militancy in Punjab).

Among the economic offenders wanted by the CBI from the USA are Virender Kumar Rastogi, Raj Kumar Aggarwal, Kirti Bhen Patel, Rajeev Mehta, Rajesh Kumar Ranjeet Singh, Devender Singh Makan, Anjali Makan, Paryank Parasuram Dave, Sameera Jumani and Narender Kumar Gudgu, sources said.

During the half-an-hour-long “structured meeting” the CBI chief categorically pointed out that while the Indian agencies reacted quickly on the requests made by the American agencies, the same kind of reciprocity was not forthcoming from the USA.

The CBI Director also impressed upon the FBI the need to share the information it has retrieved from Afghanistan pertaining to several international terrorist groups, including Al-Qaida with the member countries of INTERPOL so that global terrorism could be effectively countered.

The Indian agency also specifically requested the FBI to hand over any evidence or inputs it had about the hijackers of IC-814 from Nepal to Kandahar in December, 1999.

Emerging out of the meeting, Mr Mueller told newspersons “It had been a very successful meeting and we look forward to working together in the future in combating terrorism, computer crime and other areas such as trafficking.”

Mr Sharma said he had impressed upon his counterpart on the need to weed out obsolete rules and regulations pertaining to sharing intelligence information and extradition so that terrorism could be countered effectively.

The CBI chief said he also sought the FBI help in training its personnel in Forensic Sciences.Back


List not ready yet: Pakistan

Islamabad, January 22
Apparently cornered by the Indian offer of quick action on its list, Pakistan today changed tactics and declined to give details of terrorists alleged to have taken refuge in India but called for talks to discuss and sort out differences arising out of the Indian demand for extradition of 20 criminals and terrorists.

Stating that Pakistan has taken “note” of External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh’s statement that India would respond in “double-time” to extradite any Pakistani fugitives hiding in India, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said today that the Pakistani list was under preparation.

“We have taken note of the Indian statement. As far as the list is concerned, I cannot give any detail. These are things that take some time,” he said.

Asked why Pakistan chose to wait till India gave its list, Mr Khan resorted to an elaborate explanation in which he stressed the need for the two countries to discuss the lists and as issues relating to them directly due to the sensitive and complex problems which could not be discussed through the media.

In matters like extradition there are several complicated questions involved. There are questions like legal, local legislation, existence or non-existence of extradition treaty, he said.

Asked about reports that Pakistan would not meet India’s demand for the extradition of 20 wanted men unless India begins talks with Islamabad, Mr Khan said it referred to “making gestures” to resolve the issues through negotiations. Asked about his reaction to the Indian response to steps taken by Pakistan, he said, “The Indian response has not been that forthcoming.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan plans to seek advice of neutral experts on whether India was building a hydro-electric project at Baghliar on the Chenab in violation of the Indus Basin Water Treaty, even as officials held meetings to evolve a strategy to counter any Indian move to abrogate the treaty. PTIBack

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