London: Nirav Modi, the fugitive diamond merchant accused in multi-dollar PNB scam, was arrested by the Metropolitan police in London on Tuesday. The Westminster Court, where he was produced on Wednesday, rejected his bail and remanded him in custody until March 29. He will be held at a prison in south-west London, where his inmates will include the likes of alleged Dawood henchman Pakistani-origin Jabir Moti, who is currently undergoing extradition proceedings to the US. (ALSO READ – ‘Am 24×7 Chowkidar’, Says PM Narendra Modi After Arrest of Fugitive Diamantaire Nirav Modi in London)

Meanwhile, India on Wednesday welcomed the arrest of the fugitive diamantaire by British authorities in London, and said it was engaged with the UK for his extradition at the earliest. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India continued to actively follow up with the UK the case of Modi’s extradition to India.

“We welcome the fact that Nirav Modi has been arrested by the United Kingdom authorities pursuant to the arrest warrant issued by the Westminster Magistrate Court,” Kumar said. Adding, he said, “Government of India continues to actively follow up this matter with the authorities concerned in the UK, with a view to have Nirav Modi extradited to India at the earliest.”

Political reactions

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday hailed the arrest of Nirav Modi and credited it to the work done by Indian investigative agencies. Lauding the Narendra Modi-led government’s ‘political authority’, senior party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The Narendra Modi government is pursuing all fugitives, be it Nirav Modi, Christian Michel or Vijay Mallya, and surely all the ‘raajdars’ (those having secrets) are going to speak a lot.”

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to give credit of Nirav Modi’s arrest to the Narendra Modi government. Terming the development a ‘strike’ by Modi government to reap electoral dividend, she said, “It was a “got-up match” and the arrest may have been fixed by the Centre beforehand.”

The Congress on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and alleged the party of ‘bringing him back for Lok Sabha Elections 2019’. Speaking to reporters, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “They (BJP) had only helped him flee the country, now they are bringing him back. They are bringing him back for the elections, they will send him back after elections.” On the other hand, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked, “Ye achievement hai (is this an achievement)? Jane kisne diya tha (who let him flee)?”

The 48-year-old bank fraud fugitive who faces an Interpol red corner notice is currently subject of an extradition request by India. In August 2018, the Indian government had forwarded the requests from the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to the UK authorities seeking the extradition of Nirav Modi.