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Bihari youth abduction in S Arabia a diplomatic issue

New Delhi: The Centre today told the Supreme Court that the alleged abduction of a Bihari youth by Indian police in Saudi Arabia has turned into a diplomatic issue with Riyadh "not saying anything." The government said Fasih Mohammed was neither in India nor in the custody of any police here and the Ministry of External Affairs has been pursuing the case about him with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia.

"Now this is a question of diplomacy. We have been writing letters," Additional Solicitor General Gaurav Banerji told a bench comprising justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar. When the bench wanted to know whether Mohammed was alive or not, the law officer said "we have no knowledge as they are not saying anything." "Within 10 days there will be some information," he said while categorically saying that Mohammed against whom Red Corner notice has been issued for his alleged involvement in terror cases, was not either with the Delhi police or the Karnataka police.

The ASG said there have been two meetings of the Indian ambassador and with the Saudi Arabian authorities "who are neither confirming nor denying his presence there." The court adjourned the hearing to July and asked the Centre to apprise it of the developments through affidavit. During the earlier hearing on June 6, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Home Ministry and the Delhi Police had, in a joint response, rejected the allegation that Fasih Mohammed was abducted by the Indian police personnel for custodial interrogation and his whereabouts were not known.

Advocate Naushad Ahmad Khan, appearing for the petitioner and Mohammed`s wife Nikhat Parveen, had alleged that Mohammed was in the custody of the Indian police which started reacting only after the intervention of the apex court. The red corner notice issued against Fasih stated that the 30-year-old youth, a resident of Darbhanga district in Bihar, was a member of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and responsible for the Pune German Bakery blast on February 13, 2010 besides Bangalore Chinnaswami Stadium blasts on April 17, 2010 and Delhi`s Jama Masjid shootout and blast on September 19, 2010.

The Fasih`s involvement had come to light during interrogation of various other arrested suspects who disclosed his involvement in the said offences, the notice stated. "During the course of investigation, seven persons were arrested and interrogated. They voluntarily confessed that they along with Fasih Mehmood and other absconders belong to the banned outfit called `Indian Mujahideen.` "The absconding accused Fasih Mehmood is an active member of Indian Mujahideen since 2003. At present the absconding accused is hiding himself in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The government has said sufficient evidence of his involvement in the offences has come on record and on the basis of the said evidence, the prosecution can be launched by the Special Cell of Delhi Police. Parveen had moved the apex court alleging that her husband Fasih was picked up by a joint team of Indian and Saudi officials on May 13 for his purported terror links. He was picked from their house in Saudi Arabia where he had been working for five years, she said in her plea. Parveen had said she had written to several authorities, including the Union Ministries of the External Affairs and the Home, besides the Bihar and the Karnataka governments and to the Saudi Embassy in India, but nobody told her anything about him.

She said a group of Saudi and Indian officials in civilian clothes had searched their house in Jubail in Dammam on May 13 and confiscated a laptop and a mobile phone and informed them that Mohammed has to be deported as he is wanted in India. The 22-year-old Parveen, who married Mohammed in September last year and had joined him in Saudi Arabia in March this year, first contacted the Indian Embassy. Failing to get any information from there, she returned to India on May 15.

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