Certainly, it is increasing influence of stronger India in the world community that the Antiguan government has decided to revoke the citizenship of the Punjab National Bank fraud fugitive Mehul Choksi. Meanwhile, the second accused in the case Nirav Modi is also fighting extradition from Britain. Earlier this month, the UK High court rejected Nirav Modi’s fourth bail plea. Britain is also ready to extradite Nirav Modi to India. Prior to this, India’s criminals used to take shelter in Britain.
It is worth mentioning that even Arab countries used to warn India on Kashmir issue and Hindu-Muslim riots in the country. But when the country emerged as economic and regional superpower, everyone is quietened. Today, neither Arab countries nor global superpowers like the USA dare to interfere in internal matters of India.
Antiguan PM Gaston Browne on Tuesday said, “His citizenship was processed; he got through but the reality is his citizenship will be revoked and he will be repatriated to India; so there is recourse. It is not a case that we are trying to provide any safe harbour for criminals, for those who are involved in financial crimes.”
He said, “We have to allow for due process. He has a matter before the court and as we said to the Indian government, criminals have fundamental rights, too, and Choksi has a right to go to court and defend his position. But I can assure you, after he has exhausted all of his legal options, he will be extradited.”
It is notable that Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted by the ED and CBI for allegedly defrauding PNB to the tune of around Rs 14,000 crore. In January 2018, Choksi absconded after the Rs 14,000-crore PNB fraud came to light. Following this, he surrendered his Indian passport and took up Antiguan citizenship. The PNB fraud came to light in early 2018. Both Choksi and Modi fled the country before that.
The ED recently told the Bombay High Court that it was ready to provide an air ambulance to bring Choksi to India. On the other hand, Choksi told the High Court that he left India for medical treatment and not to avoid prosecution in the case. He said that he would return to India as soon as he was medically fit to travel.
However, External Affairs of Minister S Jaishankar refrained from reacting saying that he is yet to receive full information on the development. Government sources said that India can start the extradition process after Choksi’s citizenship is revoked. India is said to be engaging with Antigua on the matter.
In August last year, India put in a request for his extradition following which the businessman submitted a plea in the Bombay High Court through his lawyer claiming that he had left India in January to undergo bypass surgery and not to avoid prosecution. In an affidavit filed in the HC, he said he would return to India if he is medically fit.
India is emerging as global superpower. It can be realised through a series of incidents. When India conducted atomic tests in 1998, the USA, Japan and many developed countries slapped economic ban against India. But almost 20 years after that India conducted an airstrike in Pakistan, no country spoke against India. This is a major change of world’s approach towards India.
Moreover, Chinese Army used to infiltrate in India and warn Indian security personnel and people. But on 18 June, 2017, about 270 Indian troops armed with weapons and two bulldozers crossed the Sikkim border into Doklam (Bhutan) to stop the Chinese troops from constructing the road. At last, on 28 August, both India and China announced that they had withdrawn all their troops from the face-off site in Doklam. Actually, Doklam stand-off proved that China or any country can not undermine India or harm its interests. After Doklam stand-off India emerged as more powerful nation and its respect increased in the entire world.
Doklam is an area disputed between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. Unlike China and Bhutan, India does not claim Doklam but supports Bhutan’s claim. China’s claim on Doklam is based on the 1890 Convention of Calcutta (at present Kolkata) between China and Britain, which states in Article I. The boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other Rivers of Tibet. The line commences at Mount Gipmochi on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nipal territory.
China says that by this Convention, the starting point of the Sikkim-Tibet border is “Mount Gipmochi on the Bhutan frontier” and that this clearly defines the tri-junction point. According to Chinese claims, Doklam is located in the Xigaze area of Tibet, bordering the state of Sikkim. However, Bhutan was not a party to the Convention.
In 1949, Bhutan signed a treaty with India giving allowance to India to guide its diplomatic and defense affairs. In 2007, the treaty was superseded by a new Friendship Treaty that replaced the provision that made it mandatory for Bhutan to take India’s guidance on foreign policy, provided broader sovereignty but also stated in its Article 2. In keeping with the abiding ties of close friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and India, the Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Government of India shall cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests. That is why, India took action in Doklam against Chinese troops.