Terror-accused Billingham GP 'could face torture and execution'

A GP accused of running a terrorist group could face torture and execution if he is extradited to India, a court has heard.

Dr Mukul Hazarika, of the Queenstree practice in Billingham, Teesside, is allegedly chairman of a group linked to bombings in a bid to win independence for the state of Assam.

He is facing extradition proceedings because the Indian government wants him to face a trial in their country.

The 75-year-old denies the claims.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard from a human rights lawyer who claimed the case against Dr Hazarika was "flimsy", politically motivated and meant to silence him.

Lawyer Colin Gonsalves claimed that once deported, Dr Hazarika could face further charges accusing him of "waging war" which would "attract the death sentence immediately".

He said: "I would not put it beyond the police that they may inflict torture on him. They could put him in solitary confinement that would wreck him mentally. Torture is in the backbone of the Indian police system.

"The real reason they want to make a man's life miserable is… they will be infuriated by anybody advocating secessionism and particularly travelling abroad to talk about the rights of Assamese people.

"They want to catch him to stifle him speaking of secession. The charge sheet is bereft of substance."

The court heard the Indian government alleges Dr Hazarika is chairman of the United Liberation Front of Assam Independent and attended a training camp where violence against the country's government was advocated.

Lawyer Ben Lloyd, making the extradition bid on behalf of the Indian government, said its case relied on evidence and so political motivation did not arise.

However, Mr Gonsalves claimed the extradition attempt was "propaganda" so Indian authorities could say they were "tough on crime" and force the group to negotiate.

It has been claimed Dr Hazarika, who is registered manager for surgical procedures at the GP practice, is using an alias and that his real name is Abhijeet Asom.

He has pledged to contest the allegations "vigorously".

The hearing continues.

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