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EDITORIAL: 1-15 October 2000

Communalization of crime

Politicization of crime has long been a fact of life in our country. Goons who used to be instrumental in securing electoral victories for our netas are now sitting in parliament and assemblies. Political parties go out of the way to recruit such elements who know how to win elections and keep adversaries at bay. 

The new development is that crime too has now become firmly communalized. Though at least a decade-old phenomenon, it has now come in the open after the the shootout in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, on 15 September, in which Chota Rajan, former protégé of Dawood Ibrahim and now his bet-e-noir, was critically injured. Bal Thakray and his party started supporting ‘Hindu’ goondas against ‘Muslim’ goons so much so that crimes committed by Shiv Sainiks and Maharashtra police’s staged encounters were attributed to the ‘Hindu’ mafia in order to create an air of invincibility about it. Thakray stated publicly that he will support Hindu criminals in order to eliminate Muslim criminals.

This ‘communal’ divide started after the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993 and subsequent communal riots in the megapolis during 1992-93. Newspapers splashed banner headlines on the announcement made by the mafioso Chota Rajan in the aftermath of the Bombay bomb blasts that he will eliminate every person involved in the serial bomb blasts in the city. It is said that Dawood also vowed to teach a lesson to everyone who was behind Bombay riots in 1992-93. 

Interestingly this communal divide was limited to the top leadership of the two gangs. Dawood still had aides who were Hindus, like Santosh Yadav and Nilesh Kokan, while Rajan had aides like Ibrahim Shaikh. But 1993 was the turning point when religion dictated the way the underworld functioned.

It is not a hidden fact anymore that the accused in serial bomb blasts and other TADA detainees were targeted and killed just after their release from courts or prisons. Several met this fate. Everyone held in the aftermath of the blast was pronounced guilty by the press as well as by those with Sena mentality. It prompted a number of TADA detainees and others languishing in jails not to seek bail fearing for their lives. They felt they were safer inside their prison cells than outside. A number of people, who had forwarded their bail applications, cancelled their bail applications. It is clear now that many innocents were rounded up due to police inefficiency and eagerness to show results.

It is said that the Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra itself targeted a number of such people and claimed that Chota Rajan was responsible. The recent announcement of Shiv Sena supremo that if Chota Rajan dies Mumbai will be at the mercy of Muslim mafia says everything. It is alleged that Shiv Sena shahi played an important role in projecting Chota Rajan as a big time don in the city and also helped him in his bid to take on Muslim underworld dons. Shiv Sena supremo’s intense interest in Chota Rajan’s injury and his anxiety on the question of the dominance of mafia in Mumbai is understandable. Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna has been speaking openly of ‘our’ and ‘their’ gangs. It is anybody’s guess as to the source of the Saamna ‘news’ that the planning to eliminate Chota Rajan was hatched by the ISI! To be true to its nature, Shiv Sena has contributed significantly in dividing Mumbai on communal lines. Earlier the ‘other’ used to be a south India or non-Maharashtrian, now it is ‘Muslim.’ The so-called ‘national’ media too has been intensely interested in spreading the news that Rajan is ‘alive’! They prefer a criminal of a certain hue alive and not dead!

What is more surprising is the interest of our home minister LK Advani in this episode. He informed the press next day that Chota Rajan has ‘survived’ the attempt to kill him and that he is ‘safe’ in Bangkok! This unusual interest of the union home minister in a matter that relates to the infighting of underworld mafia has amazed everyone. How on earth did Advani know that Rajan was ‘safe’? It was the job of police officers in Mumbai and Bangkok to handle this issue. Advani statement did not fail to amuse the common man. This home minister does not have enough time to give attention to the spiralling crime and terrorism graph in the country and the capital itself. Important developments like the AMU crisis elude his attention. He does not pay attention to growing crimes against minorities, be they Christians or Muslims. Instead he hastens to issue clean chit to suspects if he ever gets interested. The growing number of riots in every corner of the country every other day does not bother him or at least he has not bother to tell this to the media. Yet he has enough time to talk about a worthless criminal who fled India to a foreign soil and the crime he is involved in is a matter of the jurisdiction of another country. 

It is amazing that instead of trying to extradite the criminal whose whereabouts are known to our union home minister, he is whiling away his little precious time in making statements that make him a laughing stock. It is time our home minister spared some of his precious time to check the growing graphs of crimes in the country. Criminals are no different, Mr Advani, They should be punished wherever they are found. Their accidental religious affiliation should not be a consideration and that too at this high level.
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