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Updated: May 19, 2011 01:48 IST

Chidambaram admits ‘genuine mistake' in most wanted fugitives list

Vinay Kumar
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Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s admission of the
PTI Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s admission of the "mistake" in the list of "most wanted" fugitives, that was given to Pakistan in March 2011, came a day after the goof-up was exposed in the media. File photo

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday admitted that it was a “genuine mistake” and “human error” that had crept in the list of “50 most wanted'' fugitives that was given to Pakistan in March 2011. The list included the name of terror accused Wazhul Kamar Khan (mentioned as Khan Wazhul Kamar). He was later found to be living in a suburb of Mumbai.

Addressing journalists here, Mr. Chidambaram said the inclusion of Wazhul Kamar Khan in the list was a “genuine oversight” by the Mumbai Police and also a “lapse” on the part of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in not reflecting the information received by it while preparing the list in March 2011. The Minister's admission of a “mistake'' in the list of “most wanted'' fugitives came a day after the goof-up was exposed in the media.

While taking responsibility for the error, Mr. Chidambaram also used the opportunity to hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying that it was not such a “monumental mistake” of “calamitous consequences.” He was responding to a question on the BJP's charge that the goof-up by his Ministry had embarrassed the country. “The Opposition must have moments like this to attack the government,” he added.

Recalling the statement of the then Home Minister during the NDA regime, Mr. Chidambaram, without taking any names, said the then Home Minister did not know that three terrorists in custody were taken out of jail in December 1999 and taken to Kandahar by the then Foreign Minister. “Let me ask the BJP leaders if this episode marks the level of maximum incompetence, then what was that? If this brought embarrassment to the country, did that statement not bring disgrace to the country? I think you should allow for some political exchanges on this and should not make this into an eight-column news story,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

Furnishing details of how the mistake had occurred, he said in a statement released by the Home Ministry: “It now transpires that the Mumbai Police arrested Wazhul Kamar Khan on May 21, 2010. However, this information of arrest and for consequent deletion of the Red Corner Notice was not sent by the Mumbai Police to the CBI.” Wazhul Kamar Khan is an accused in the 2003 Mulund blasts.

The Minister said that the CBI made further enquiries with the Mumbai Police on January 27 this year. The Mumbai Police vide letter of May 17, 2011 requested the cancellation of the Red Corner notice as “the subject is no more wanted by Mumbai Police on account of his arrest on May 21, 2010.” He said the CBI had already removed the name of Wazhul Kamar Khan from the list of wanted persons.

However, Mr. Chidambaram disclosed that it was gathered that the Mumbai Police had in January this year conveyed to the subsidiary office of the IB in Mumbai that Wazhul Kamar Khan had been arrested.

“This information, unfortunately, was not reflected in the list of fugitives maintained by the authorities and was overlooked while a list was prepared in March 2011,” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram said it would, therefore, be clear that the failure to formally communicate the fact of the arrest of Khan on May 21 last to the CBI resulted in the name being retained by the agency.

“It is possible that the said failure was the result of a genuine oversight by the Mumbai Police. At the same time, there was also a lapse on the part of the IB in not reflecting the information received by it while preparing the list in March 2011,” he said.

Asked whether Wazhul Kamar Khan had travelled to Pakistan, Mr. Chidambaram said his name had figured in the 2007 list of wanted criminals and terrorists suspected to be in Pakistan.

What worries one is not whether the mistake in the most wanted fugitives list handed over to Pakistan is genuine or not. The worry is about the lackadaisical manner in which India's security system is apparently operating. Mr.Chidambaram's verbal calisthenics will not in anyway assuage this concern. Media, on its part, has failed to highlight this aspect of the slip-up in the drawing up of the fugitive list. The emphasis of the media and even the opposition parties unfortunately has been on how Pakistan will make use of it.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: May 20, 2011 at 10:06 IST

Shame on Chidambaram and for India. Chidambaram must quit his position or should be fired.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: May 19, 2011 at 17:35 IST

Genuine mistake and human error can be perhaps condoned in any government department other than the country's security set-up especially in this dangerous world. Zero error should be watchword for all those connected with the country's security. The security set-up did not own-up any mistake, genuine or otherwise, on their part when terrorist landed merrily on the Mumbai coast and moved around in the city in taxis killing people at will on 26/11. Mr. Chidambaram, please do not soak up all the goodwill the people have for our security forces. Leave some for the future!

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: May 19, 2011 at 13:46 IST

PC is great in rationalising away failures under his charge. We know now it was a genuine mistake (and not a fake goof-up) and human error (and not computer malfunctioning). He finds time to comment upon matters relating to external affairs and finance, but is unable to make sure that the 50 'most wanted' names going to Interpol and Pakistan are all valid. He has brought shame to India and still, the boss Dr. Singh remains clueless, wordless and action-less.

from:  Vikram Prakash
Posted on: May 19, 2011 at 13:29 IST

Mr Chidambaram making political statements on this evidence of gross incompetence of, and casual approach by, his ministry and associated agencies to an internationally sensitive point is disturbing, if not shameful. This blunder is not comparable with the release of terrorists in exchange of the 300-odd innocent lives. This is an unpardonable error and Mr Chidambaram needs to apply his wisdom more seriously on this. In fact, in common man's wisdom, this qualifies for his exit from the seat. This I say assuming that Mr Wazhul Kamar Khan is an innocent person residing in India, and not a fugitive. From the facts published though, he is not above suspicion. There is a need to verify the evidences of his innocence and his whereabouts during the long absences from his current residence. His statements that he visited terror camps out of curiosity and remained in hiding in different places in India to avoid arrest are untenable. An innocent person will not visit terror camps and exhibit curiosity to understand the features of AK47. Who knows, he may have been indeed in Pakistan and sneaked into India to help Pakistan prove to the world that the list of fugitives prepared by India was a farce?

from:  VMN Sharma
Posted on: May 19, 2011 at 10:08 IST

Our Hon'ble Home Minister, other than being a distinguished lawyer, is unable to raise to the occasion and demonstrate statesmanship and leadership. He is happy and content to score brownie points with the opposition. It is the same Home Minister and Prime Minister who feigned ignorance regarding the former CVC's appointment and background. Can the nation afford such "intellectuals" in prime positions of power? No wonder in the recent assembly elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly, the Home Minister's constituency voted overwhelmingly in favor of the AIADMK.

from:  Dwarakanath Srinivasan
Posted on: May 19, 2011 at 08:38 IST

Pakistan , which thrives on falsehood, would not let go of this 'golden goof up' by India to declare from roof tops that all 50 fugitives listed by India, as being sheltered by Pakistan are in India, and worse still are of Indian nationality. Why do our public servants holding responsible positions have to make absolute jokers of themselves!

from:  V.B.N.Ram
Posted on: May 19, 2011 at 07:24 IST

There is nothing usual in this case. Mistakes galore are the hallmarks of all Ministries in the Centre.When Ministers are busy filling their pockets with bribes and the babus following suit there is no attention to details and correctness of information. If our Ministries were more efficient we would not be in such a sorry state after 64 years of Independence.

from:  S N Iyer
Posted on: May 19, 2011 at 06:24 IST

Mr Chidambaram own up and resign. The list had only 50 names not the thousands like they had in Gauntanamo Bay. The list was vetted/checked out by Bombay Police, IB and the Home Ministry. How could the mistake be 'genuine' if so many agencies looked into the list. Thanks for giving the opposition one more chance to attack the government. You are part of a government which thrives on scandals, scams and incompetency. If the Prime Minister cannot sack you because of the pressure from the top, do the right thing own up and resign. Stop throwing mud at the previous administration's lapses. Concentrate on making more blunders like this.

from:  Mani Sandilya
Posted on: May 19, 2011 at 03:32 IST

It is definitely not a monumental mistake; how can Chidambaram make one. China is gravely looking at each error (forget mistake), and making its calculations accordingly. God forbid, but if China happens to attack India due to these mistakes compounding, Chidambaram and his ilk are going to again say, 'Just a monumental mistake.' This guy deserves a befitting reply from the Indian people, and i am eagerly waiting for the next elections. Chidambaram beware. Yes its a warning.

from:  Sunit Jang Bahadur
Posted on: May 19, 2011 at 01:49 IST
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