Hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Beijing, came reports that Nirav Modi is no longer holed up in Hong Kong. He had in fact left Hong Kong for the UK on February 14. It has now turned out that the absconding jeweller was in Hong Kong for a mere 12 days.
The question that then arises is that if the fugitive businessman had left Chinese territory by the second week of February why did the Ministry of External Affairs move the Chinese government for his arrest as late as March end.
Minster of state for external affairs, VK Singh, had in a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha said, "The ministry has sought the provisional arrest of Nirav Deepak Modi by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People's Republic of China, for which a request has been submitted to them on March 23, 2018.
Singh had also stated that Nirav Modi's passports had been revoked on February 23, 2018. The businessman had been accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank of Rs 13,600 crore, the biggest bank swindle in the country's history.
India Today has accessed a detailed dossier about NiMo's activities ever since he left for the UAE from India on January 1. This dossier gives startling details of Modi's whereabouts but most importantly saves the PMO and the MEA the blushes of seeking Modi's extradition from Chinese territory.
The dossier says, "the tough laws in Hong Kong made him (Nirav Modi) leave Hong Kong on February 14 for Heathrow Airport. He landed in London on February 15 and stayed there for about a month... Again he left for New York, USA, in the third week of March and has been spotted by friends and businessmen in and around New York.
In fact, the dossier traces him to places he stayed in not just in Europe but the US as well. "The apartment where he stayed is in the vicinity of Four Seasons Hotel, Main Heritage Building, 10 Trinity Square and Bond Street Metro Station...He was traced in New York and seen around Loews Regency Hotel, 540 Park Avenue, 61 Street, New York City, somewhere near Times Square and close to Broadway Street."
What neither the MEA nor the MHA has been able to explain is how, when his passport had been revoked, was he traversing the globe. Also, why did the authorities in either the UK or the US not hand him over at immigration itself. What hasn't also been explained is when the government had access to details of where he was staying, why couldn't it tip off the authorities.
Responding to India's request for extraditing NiMo, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had earlier this month said, "If India makes relevant request to the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administered Region), we believe the HKSAR will follow the basic law and relevant laws and under relevant judicial agreements with India with the relevant issue." This response was at best seen to be iffy and the worry in the establishment has been that Nirav Modi would take advantage of the special status that Hong Kong enjoys to fob off extradition attempts. Government sources had told India Today that Nirav Modi was actually staying in Hong Kong with his sister Purvi Mehta.