Ruining innocent lives: guilt of investigating agencies

Nine youth accused in the Malegaon blast case of 2006 have been granted bail by the MCOCA court. (Nov 6 2011). These Muslim youth were arrested after the bomb exploded on Shab-e-Barat, killing several people. Immediately after that the Anti Terrorist Sqaud arrested nine Muslim youth, there was really no evidence worth its name against them. Yet the police which is, motivated more by biases than by professionalism, arrested these Muslim youths. The investigating agencies firmly believed all through that all terrorists are Muslims. Human rights workers tried to reason with the top police authorities that how can Muslim youth conspire to kill their own kin. In other quarters the virus of Islamophobia and anti Muslim sentiments has gripped a large section in society including the police authorities, who have strong biases against Muslims. The investigations for authorities so far, was an easy job, after every blast, catch hold of a few Muslim youth put them behind bars and then try to manufacture the evidence, if possible.

Similar things happened in the Mecca Masjid blast when the authorities arrested nearly 25 Muslim youth after the blast in the mosque. That time even the National Commission for Minorities minced no words and concluded that the case against Muslim youths, who were detained in the immediate aftermath of the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts, had been fabricated.

 The Godhra train burning investigation is also mired in much deeper misconception and conspiracies, where nothing could be proved against the alleged chief conspirator, Maulana Haji Umarji. Despite that, other Muslim youth were sentenced.   All these investigations show a clear pattern that the biases of the investigating authorities overtake their professional training.  This was also the lazy way of going about things as arresting Muslims after each such episode is passé in public opinion and in the media in particular. Barring a small section of the media, the rest hardly played their role of raising doubts about the methods of the investigating authorities.

In the blasts in Nanded (April 2006) two Bajrang dal activists died while making bombs. They were making bombs in the house of one Mr. Rajkondawar, a RSS worker. It had all clinching evidence of the Hindutva terror gang undertaking such terrorist operations.  But Mahrashtra ATS stubbornly ignored the basic point and protected the real culprits who were guilty of the crime. It took the like’s of Hemant Karkare to painstakingly unearth the evidence linking the Malegaon blast of 2008 with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Dayanand Pandey and other RSS associates, to meticulously demonstrate that the real cause of terror attacks in these places: Nanded, Modassa, Parbhani, Jalna, Aurangabad, Ajmer and Samjhauta blast lies somewhere else. It is unfortunate that the police officer of such integrity was killed in the Mumbai terror attack on 26/11 2008.

What was happening so far was that since the police was merrily botching up the investigation, the real culprits were getting emboldened and they went on committing one after the other acts of terror. There is a long list of RSS affiliates, against whom there is strong ground to implicate them. Of course, RSS true to its character was quick to say that those involved in acts of terror, had already ‘left’ the RSS. The matter really could not be hidden after the confession of Swami Aseemanand, which was reported first by the gutsy magazine Tehelka. Swami Aseemanand, an RSS worker, who was working for VHP in the Dangs, organizing Shabri Kumbh in the presence of top RSS brass, confessed in the presence of a magistrate. This confession as per law can be treated as evidence in a court of law. He spilled the beans and confessed his role in the Mecca Masjid and other blasts and also named his colleagues in the crime. This forced the agencies to do some course correction. Aseemanand has named senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, the murdered RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and senior RSS pracharaks Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangra, among others, as being key conspirators in the terror blasts.

The result of this, fortunately is that in the Malegaon blast, the accused after 5 years of suffering and loss of youthful years in jails, have been granted bail. This raises multiple questions as far as our society and nation are concerned. The first is, do we deserve such biased investigating agencies who, episode after episode, keep repeating the same method despite the lack of proper evidence. The heavy reliance of agencies on the role of SIMI, a banned organization and some vague groups with Muslim names has been the favourite line of investigation of the authorities. How can this trend be reversed? The biases in the minds of authorities are also a reflection of ‘social common sense’ prevalent in society. This ‘social common sense’ has been manufactured by communal forces and the media has disseminated it further. Despite the Harmony Programs by the Government, despite the Home ministry’s lip service to prop up National Foundation for communal harmony, not many awareness programs have been consistently followed or taken up seriously.

The state has enough resources to ensure that police academies, officers training institutes and college-universities are made the conduit to disseminate the values of plural traditions, the synthesis of religions in the form of Bhakti and Sufi traditions, the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi on communal harmony. A lot is possible to give a boost to the values of harmony which underlie India’s freedom movement and are enshrined in the Indian Constitution. There are many NGOs and individuals who are trying to do this work, but definitely their reach is very limited. This promotion of culture of amity and celebration of diversity by the state is a must at this juncture.

 The second point of serious concern is what does state and society do when the lives of innocents are ruined by the callous attitude of investigating authorities. There have been demands that these youth should be adequately compensated and the amount of their compensation should be recovered from the salaries of the police officers who are blinded by their prejudices and push aside professionalism to give a free play their biases in arresting these youth. A suitable rehabilitation program, scholarship, assistance to rebuild the lives has to be the responsibility of the state in these matters. The state must come forward to undo the severe harm it has inflicted on these innocent youth. (Issues in Secular Politics)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2011 on page no. 13

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