A senior Congress leader had informed his party leadership that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, was willing to “return” to India and surrender to authorities, according to a report.
The revelation comes a month after senior lawyer and Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani had said that Dawood was willing to surrender but the then Maharashtra CM Sharad Pawar had rejected the offer. In Tuesday’s report in The Indian Express , senior functionaries of the former UPA government told the daily that the “offer to return” was discussed with the top leadership in the government and the party, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.
Dawood’s “offer” was also discussed by the lawyer with two Congress leaders, but was told that the underworld fugituve was too much of a “hot potato” and making him stand on trial on his terms was risky.
“I have no recollection of any discussion with any person regarding the return of underworld leader Dawood Ibrahim,” The Indian Express quoted an e-mail response from Manmohan Singh in its report. The former officials, however, said to have first conveyed Dawood’s “offer” to the Congress leadership, which was later taken up for discussion by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The lawyer, who had discussed Dawood’s “offer” with the Congress leaders, had handled several cases of the D-company and was said to have been in touch with Dawood and his immediate family members, the report said. “The sequence of events and circumstances leading to the ‘offer’ in 2013 revealed that Dawood was suffering from a serious kidney ailment and was anxious to return to India to be with the rest of his family.
The Supreme Court, on an earlier ocasion, had dismissed a plea seeking a SIT probe into the claims that Dawood Ibrahim wanted to return to India and face the law but previous governments did not respond to the offer. Petitioner Kishore Samrite had sought a retired Supreme Court judge to head the SIT. Samrite in his petition told the court that Dawood Ibrahim had approached people twice or thrice, expressing his desire to come back and face the law, but the government did not act on his offer.
An apex court bench declining the plea had said that it was not for the judiciary to look into it and the issue did not require judicial interference. Seeking a probe into government’s cold shouldering of Dawood’s offer, the petitioner had pointed out to the claims by the former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar and Jethmalani, saying that Dawood Ibrahim wanted to return to India.