NEW DELHI: Unconfirmed reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government may have moved to seize assets 1993 Mumbai blasts mastermind Dawood Ibrahim has on its soil set off fevered speculation in political circles.
The Indian intelligence and investigative agencies, as well as the ministry of external affairs, insisted that they were unaware of any such development. However, the assertions failed to quell the speculation about the UAE authorities following through on the growing cooperation with India in the field of counterterrorism by moving against the former boss of the Mumbai underworld who has been designated a "global terrorist."
There were indications that the reticence may be partly due to a desire to protect the UAE government's sensitivities and considerations of confidentiality.
Dawood, who is currently said to be based in Pakistan, has been closely tracked by India because of his complicity in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai as well as terror acts masterminded by Pakistan's spy agency ISI. The pursuit for him has been stepped up since the Modi government took office in 2014. Dubai used to be the favourite hunting ground for Dawood, who acquired huge assets in the Sheikhdom.
One official source said India's caution may be rooted in the fact that Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is due to arrive in India later this month as chief guest for the Republic Day parade. National security adviser Ajit Doval is said to have pursued India's case against Dawood with the UAE and requested the officials there to act and seize the underworld don's property.
According to reports, when PM Modi, accompanied by Doval, visited the UAE in 2015, issues pertaining to Dawood's property came up and India provided a confidential list of his properties to the UAE government. These properties, according to media reports, are believed to be worth Rs 15,000 crore.
BJP put the media reports about the seizure of Dawood's assets on its website, describing it as a major achievement of the Modi government.