Secret service agencies are govt. tools

Lucknow: “Secret agencies, Police and security organisations started troubling Muslims after the demolition of Babri Mosque,” said known journalist Gautam Navlakha while speaking at the press club here on “Communalist politics and secret agencies” held on the sixth anniversary of the Batla House encounter. He said the fake encounters are a part of this chain which includes the obvious example of Batla House encounter.

Navlakha further said that intelligence and investigating agencies enjoy such arbitrary powers that it enables communal bias and prejudices to enjoy unfettered sway.  As a result, fake encounters take place as do filing of fake cases. The fact that no judicial investigation was ordered into Batla “encounter” despite the passage of six years, shows that the rule is to protect the agencies.

Navlakha said in fact fake encounters started much before Batla House. It has an old history going back to the Emergency period when most encounters took place in Andhra Pradesh and Naxalites were killed while in custody and passed off as “encounters”. It carried on in Punjab and elsewhere in the name of fighting Khalistani terror which resulted in enforced disappearance of thousands of youth in order to crush the movement. Navlakha said terrorism entered the lexicon in India in 1980 with a bid to finish off the Khalistan movement. Indira Gandhi resorted to lies and committed atrocities on a large number of youth. Some were incarcerated in jails on trumped up charges while others were killed in fake encounters and the government took no action against top police officers who committed these crimes. Then after the demolition of the Babri Mosque, youth of a particular community became targets of police and administration. However, what is different now is that encounters and cases are meant to terrorise the Muslims.

Navlakha said, BJP and Hindutva politics may have received a jolt in UP by-elections but their divisive politics still continues. Sangh Parivar and VHP are steadfast on this political path. They are ruling a number of states and they are helped in the implementation of their policies by the local administration and police. The police force raised by Congress is now dancing to the BJP tunes. Thus those who believe that Modi’s “inclusive” development runs contrary to divisive politics of Sangh Parivar are wrong because the economic policy itself generates divisions so that corporate owners can control a disenfranchised work force. It is to stem this from taking on a shape of widespread discontent that politics of reducing Muslims to second class status fits in. The old hatred resurfaces to converge with the interests of the rich and the privileged. Therefore, the threat held out by Sangh Parivar and its cohorts is of fascism where an enemy in the shape of a community comes in handy to carry out a vicious economic policy which is meant to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor even as hypocritical obeisance is paid to “inclusion”.

 Navalkha said we fail to realize that while Indian Constitution speaks of “equality before law,” in fact there are different laws and unequal application of laws and laws enacted which target specific groups to varying degree. For instance, if a Hindutva group plants a bomb in a cinema hall, it is not considered a terror crime because Hindus, it is claimed by agencies and government (all of them and not just BJP), can never be anything but at worse “extreme nationalists”. This allows Hindutva terror groups to escape ban, persecution of the type faced by Muslims, Naxalites, Kashmiri Muslims, Meiteis, Nagas etc. Thus Constitution makes a claim of equality whereas, in reality, laws have been enacted in such a way that it targets everyone except Hindutva terror groups. Thus, whereas Muslims as a whole become suspect and with passage of laws like TADA, POTA and now UAPA -grandmother of all draconian laws - the laws have brought about a dangerous change. For instance, such is the ambit of UAPA that SIMI, which has been challenging the ban imposed on it since 2001 before Tribunals, automatically becomes guilty and those appearing before Tribunal can be jailed for upto 10 years!  

Police and secret service agencies have been given enormous powers where on mere suspicion they can get away with abductions, torture in custody, extracting “confessions”, forcing Muslim youth to work as “informers”, falsely implicated in crimes, and then made to rot in jails for years. Although in most cases trials end in acquittal, the damage done to the person and his/her kith and kin is staggering.  And when the personnel of agencies are hauled up in courts, the government comes to their rescue saying that any action against them will affect their morale. Even the Supreme Court has bought this logic.

Speaking on the Batla House encounter, Navlakha questioned how Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma reached the place without wearing a bullet-proof jacket? This is a big question, he said, adding that police has become greedy due to the awards doled out by the government and this creates competition between different forces for reward and promotion. So did he rush to Batla House in a hurry to outfox the Mumbai ATS? We know that to win such awards, police is committing so many encounters in Kashmir.

Navlakha said, today the work of the secret service agencies is totally suspect. It was set up not by Parliament through a law but set up by the British Raj through an executive order in 1880s. They remain unaccountable to everyone but MHA. Its accounts remain unaudited and unavailable. There is no oversight, as such this body has acquired impunity to do as it wills. One wonders if the government controls them or they control the government by playing on fears, exaggerated fears at that?  IB must be made accountable to Parliament, he demanded.

Navlakha said that the term “Muslim terrorism” was coined after the Babri Masjid demolition under which the victim has been made the criminal. Demanding the abolition of the UAPA, Navlakha said the secret service agencies control the government; therefore the latter does not muster courage to repeal certain laws.

Navlakha said BJP is dangerous not only for Muslims but for the whole country. We have to come together to unite against this threat of fascist takeover of our country. Demanding equality before law must be made part of this effort, he said.  

Rihai Manch leaders advocate Muhammad Shoaib and SR Darapuri also spoke on this occasion. A five-point memorandum was released on this occasion. It demanded judicial enquiry of the Batla House encounter, secret agencies be made accountable to Parliament, action against officers involved in fake encounters, and rehabilitation of youth falsely implicated in terror cases including fair compensation.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 October 2014 on page no. 1

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