New Delhi: Where is India’s most wanted fugitive, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, right now? If the reply to a question on the topic from Union Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary in Lok Sabha on Tuesday is taken at face value, the prime accused in the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai is not traceable at the moment.

Since his location is not known, the government cannot begin the extradition process against him, he said.

Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

His reply flies contrary to the position of several governments, including that of the present one in 2014. In October 2005, the then Home Minister Shivraj Patil had said that Dawood was in Pakistan. In 2006 he had made it more specific saying the fugitive was located in Karachi.

Later, during UPA II, the former Home Minister P Chidambaram had made a similar statement in 2011. In December 2014, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had said that India had asked Pakistan to hand over Dawood as enough evidence had been given to it on the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. His name figures in the official dossier on 2008 Mumbai blasts submitted to Pakistan by India.

Then what compelled the government to contradict its own statement on Dawood? Defence analysts say he is still in Pakistan, well protected by the ISI. The government’s latest position should not be taken at face value since it has to take into consideration the operational concerns of the intelligence agencies.

Former R&AW chief, CD Sahay told Firstpost, “We can speculate anything about Dawood, but the intelligence agencies must be well aware of his exact movements. And, they are not supposed to share information in the interest of the investigation and the tracking being conducted by the agencies, which may jeopardize national security.”

Regarding the statement made by the minister in Parliament, Sahay, who was in-charge of the division responsible for analysis and operations relating to Pakistan, said, “It reflects the current situation. The contradiction we are talking about in government’s statements between the past and the present is related to the point of time. The minister has replied to extradition proceedings of Dawood, which is a legal issue. For extradition, exact location of the person concerned is required. Now, regarding sharing of information, even if the government has an idea, it’s its prerogative whether to share it in public domain or not. There are several constraints and national interest can’t be compromised at any cost.”

Former Special Director, Intelligence Bureau (IB), DC Nath added, “One may think what the government said in Lok Sabha is different from the information that the intelligence agencies have with them regarding Dawood Ibrahim, but it is not true. It may be that due to strategic reasons it would not be viable for the government to share all information in public domain. And, it’s justified keeping the interests of Indian intelligence.”

The defence analysts and experts on intelligence opined whatever the Indian government wants to say on Dawood, needs to be in a calibrated manner, keeping national security in mind. Alok Bansal, Director at Centre for Security & Strategy, India Foundation, remarked, “The last known destination of Dawood was Karachi. Right now, we can’t pin-point his location. However, one thing is clear he Dawood is in Pakistan under the protection of ISI. And, it’s this agency, which is making Dawood move from one location to another for his safety. The ISI can’t let Dawood leave Pakistan at any cost, which will be critical for them. On the other hand, Indian intelligence can’t share everything.”The R&AW in the past had believed that one of Dawood’s addresses included ‘White House at Clifton in Karachi’. However, Pakistan has always denied his presence in the country. After the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, which Dawood allegedly organized and financed, he became India’s most wanted man. According to the United States, Ibrahim maintained close links with al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden and it declared him a ‘global terrorist’ in 2003.

Though Pakistan always denied Dawood’s presence, his son got married to Pakistani cricketer Javed Miandad’s daughter. “It’s a well-known fact that Dawood headed the D-Company, an organized crime syndicate, with a vast illegal empire. His connections with Mumbai through sleeper cells can’t be ruled out.

“Probably, through his syndicate, he is continuing with his illegal business sitting in Pakistan. He is known to have several business interests in Karachi and other cities there,” an intelligence source said, adding the minister’s answer in Lok Sabha touches only the technical point about his extradition.