India discusses fugitives' extradition, visa problems, and counter-terrorism with UK

On the UK side, the issue of illegal immigration from India was raised with the Indian Home Secretary.

London: India and the UK have discussed key issues such as extradition, counter-terrorism and illegal immigration during high-level talks here, officials said on Tuesday. Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on Tuesday concluded the India-UK Home Affairs Dialogue.

Asked if the case of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya and former IPL chief Lalit Modi were raised specifically, Mehrishi said that issues that affect extradition “across the board” were raised rather than specific cases.

“Mr Mallya’s case is sub-judice. The issues around extradition discussed during the meetings only focused on any difficulties that may arise in extradition cases in general,” he told reporters at the Indian High Commission at the end of his week-long visit to the UK.

During the talks, discussions were held on issues of concern for both the sides such as extradition matters, counter-terrorism and illegal immigrants from India to the UK, officials said.

The India-UK Home Affairs Dialogue was set up during British Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to India in November last year.

The first meeting took place in New Delhi in May and the latest meeting was co-chaired in London by Mehrishi with UK Permanent Secretary Philip Rutnam.

On the UK side, the issue of illegal immigration from India was raised with the Indian Home Secretary.

“Approximately, the UK has been able to identify in the region of about 1,000 illegal immigrants from India a year. We made it clear that it is a matter of policy for India that anybody identified as an Indian who is illegally in the UK, we will expedite his or her return,” Mehrishi said.

“The only issue is about cross-checks and time taken because sometimes illegal immigrants, understandably, destroy their documents and therefore identifying them as Indians takes a lot of time,” he said.

The Home Secretary also raised the issue of visa problems faced by Indians, including delays in student visa decisions, the high amount charged for UK visas and the lengthy waiting period for Indian tourist visas.

The issue of women abandoned by Indian-origin and NRI spouses from the UK back in India was also highlighted by the Indian side and it was agreed that follow-up meetings on that would take place next week with senior Indian High Commission diplomats. Mehrishi has held talks with Brandon Lewis, UK minister for immigration and over the past week took part in a series of meetings, most of which are not in the “public domain”.

Both sides also participated in a two-day counter- terrorism workshop. Mallya, the 61-year-old former chief of now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines which owes nearly Rs 9,000 crore to various Indian banks, has been in the UK since March 2016 and was arrested by Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant on April 18.

Out on a bail, he is fighting the extradition case in a UK court. He had fled India on March 2 last year. And Modi, who is also said to be in the UK, is wanted by Indian authorities in connection with a money laundering case.

India and Britain have an extradition treaty, signed in 1992, but so far only one extradition has taken place under the arrangement – that of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel.

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