London, March 22
A new book on some high-profile, as well as lesser-known Indian extradition cases, attempts to decode why the UK is considered a safe haven for those wanting to escape the law in India.
‘Escaped: True stories of Indian fugitives in London’, released worldwide on Monday, tracks 12 cases involving alleged offenders wanted in India to stand trial for offences ranging from loan defaults to murder.
The book, by London-based journalists and researchers Danish and Ruhi Khan, includes a recap of the more recent cases involving former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya and diamond merchant Nirav Modi, wanted in India on fraud and money laundering charges, as well as some historic ones including those of former Indian Naval officer Ravi Shankaran and musician Nadeem Saifi.
“These 12 cases were chosen as much for the significance of the allegations against them as for the interesting arguments raised during their hearings and the observations made in their judgments,” said Danish Khan.
“We have studied in much detail many other extradition cases, have had long interviews with experts and pored over case laws and parliamentary reports to understand the principles underlying the extradition process that we explore in our last chapter,” he said.
As journalists covering the recent court cases in London, the couple said they drew on their own observations and reporting and also dug into British archives, old newspaper records and parliamentary reports to review cases dating back to the 1950s that have had a significant impact on the India-UK extradition policy.
“We have used investigative reporting and eye-witness accounts to bring to life the stories of the flamboyant billionaire Vijay Mallya and diamond czar Nirav Modi. We have also made extensive use of the British archives and historical newspapers reports to bring into focus the less heard but extremely important and intriguing stories of other fugitives that throw a spotlight on India over the past seven decades – whether it is the underworld-cricket-Bollywood nexus or the Indo-Pak diplomatic wars,” said Ruhi Khan.
Among some of the past extradition cases is that of a key lieutenant of Dawood Ibrahim, Iqbal Mirchi, who set up a base in London at a time when the Middle East was the most popular destination for underworld dons and it proved a good choice as he was successful in his fight against being extradited to India.
The authors say they have tried to take a close look at how Mirchi built his empire, rising from the mohallas of Bombay to London’s millionaire row.
The book similarly tracks the lives of all these fugitives who “escaped” from India, many winning their battle against extradition and others carrying on a long-drawn legal fight to stay on in the UK.