Mehul Choksi’s arrest was recently in the news. It took us back to the almost forgotten days were fleeing after doing big scams was a normal thing to do. All these designer suit-wearing, savvy, spoilt businessmen think it is so easy to take as much as they wish for, from the banks and walk on the hard-earned money of the average Indian working class. The shamelessness they show in doing it also brings up the topic of how business, tax evasion, and political influence work hand in hand.
“Escaped” by Danish Khan and Ruhi Khan follows the timeline of 12 such fugitives who took refuge in London. It puts on display the long-drawn courtroom battle between them and India to bring them back to India to get prosecuted. In a conversation with my lawyer friend, I asked him why is it that they go to London and not to any other countries with whom India didn’t sign an extradition treaty. The answer was something on the line that London provides the best amenities and best lawyers so the battle will be long drawn and stretched out. This basically says how entitled these thieves think they are that they still want luxuries instead of going to their real place which may be Tihar or Arther road.
The cases selected in the book are highly relevant and noteworthy, such as that of Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Iqbal Memon, Ravi Shankaran among others. These cases are significant in both the scale of impact of their actions and how the legal procedures took place. The authors focused not only on the proceedings but also on the background of each and every character, often sharing glimpses of their personal lives during the trial periods. Not all the cases were successful or closed but this evidently raises a question as to why these events took place in the very first place. Isn’t this what we already see on a smaller scale, politicians escape prison life by claiming health issues and staying in VIP rooms of hospitals for months only to return back to jail for a few days and back to the hospital!
But we should as citizens also understand the mindset of the government officials and how international law works. The ideal situation would be to get them punished but when there’s law involved, situations may seem different. Proceedings take time and corrupt officials are not helping the cause.
ABOUT THE BOOK-
London has emerged as a safe haven for those who want to escape the law in India. Through eyewitness accounts and archival records, DANISH KHAN and RUHI KHAN delve into twelve extraordinary cases of extradition over seven decades to unravel the legal quagmire that has caused much debate in Her Majesty's courts and consternation in New Delhi's corridors of power.
Escaped examines the extradition of billionaire VIJAY MALLYA and diamantaire NIRAV MODI, throws a spotlight on their ultra-luxe world, uncovers the complex ownership of their UK assets, and brings to life the intense courtroom battles. The book also chronicles the saga of cricket bookie SANJEEV CHAWLA, now dispatched to India, and that of music director NADEEM SAIFI, who has been exonerated but can never return home. It explores how drug lord IQBAL MIRCHI and terror accused HANIF PATEL evaded extradition and investigates the loopholes that saved convicted pedophile RAYMOND VARLEY and NRI parents ARTI DHIR and KAVAL RAIJADA, accused of murdering their adopted child. The book reveals the inside story of how RAVI SHANKARAN, the alleged spy, was set free, and how the famed NARANG BROTHERS were snagged for trading in stolen Indian artifacts. Taking a trip through history, the book recounts how a newly independent India managed to bring back two powerful industrialists, DHARMA JAYANTI TEJA and MUBARAK ALI AHMED, who was involved in financial crimes. Escaped decodes why London is an irresistible siren for Indian fugitives.
Escaped by Danish Khan and Ruhi Khan is originally published by Penguin India, and to order your copy buy here.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Danish Khan is a journalist and historian living in London. He has been covering the UK and Europe for Times Now, ET Now, and Mumbai Mirror for a decade. Prior to that, he worked as a journalist in Mumbai. Danish was awarded the Martin Senior scholarship and the Amersi Foundation scholarship at the University of Oxford, where he is also involved in the Global History of Capitalism Project. He has taught history at the University of Oxford and Stanford University.
Ruhi Khan is a London-based independent journalist. She has written on extradition cases for the Wire. She has worked with NDTV and Mumbai Mirror in India and been a curator at Twitter UK. Ruhi was a Jefferson Fellow at the East-West Center, US, and a recipient of the Mary Morgan Hewitt Award for Women in Journalism. She is an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science and she also edits the Media@LSE Blog.