Human Rights

ISRO: “terror attack” or hallucination?

By Majid Jahangir

New Delhi: On 16 March 2010 a security guard at ISRO near Bangalore claimed that two armed men from a short distance fired at the centre and then fled. He also claimed that in retaliation, he fired two rounds at the suspected persons. But highly placed police officers denied that any terrorist attack took place and said that the guard was creating the story of terrorist attack in his imagination.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) constable Jadhav Bhagwan had also claimed that he had fired back forcing the attackers to flee. According to the CISF report, the event is claimed to have taken place at 3.20 am outside the maingate of the ISRO facility, 40 km from Bangalore. The Indian Deep Space Network facility was set up in 2007 to receive data and images from the country's first unmanned lunar mission.

It is reported that the guard Jadhav Bagwan spotted two men wearing police uniform. One of them was standing on a mound while the other was sitting, peering into the facility through binoculars. The guard also claimed that they fled under the cover of darkness.

Police officials, however, said that the shootout story seemed to be a figment of his imagination. The first question is how come neither Jadhav nor the assailants were injured when ten rounds were exchanged.

Bangalore's Additional Director General of Police A.R. Infant said: "Our in-depth investigations so far indicate that no shots were fired from outside on the constable and there are no traces of an exchange of gunfire either at the place.

It is interesting to mention that following the incident the CISF authorities refused to handover the constable to the police for interrogation and also kept him away from media glare.

Trashing the constable's theory of a terrorist attack a senior police officer said that it was a clear case of hallucination. "When security personnel are on night duty for longer periods of time, hallucinations do occur. Many security personnel report such incidents under stress. But here the constable went ahead and opened fire on assailants who were never there. The evidence is clear."

Pointing out contradictions and discrepancies in the statement of Jadhav, Bangalore police said: "The constable claimed he fired eight rounds at the gunmen but we found only five empty cartridges. Had the gunmen really opened fire, there would have been physical marks on the ground, compound or on the gate of the ISRO facility. "Referring to forensic experts, Infant said: "Our forensic experts did not find anything. Besides, the bullets of empty cartridges allegedly fired by the gunmen have not been found so far.

It is also interesting that at the main gate of the centre no CCTV cameras are installed which surprised the police. In this regard a police officer said that "the identity of the assailants could have been known if there were any cameras. But the centre had not installed any. More questionable on the part of center's officers is why they refused to handover the constable to the police for interrogation?

The second disturbing thing on the part of ISRO officials is why they kept away Jadhave from media. Why the matter has been wrapped into the secrecy carpet? Is there anything behind the scene? It may also be asked that at a time when our country is deeply concerned with the growing terror menace, and millions and trillions are being spent on security and anti-terror activities, why the constable in not being questioned? Why government or our home minister did not interfere in the matter? Why the minister is not interested? And when police officials did not support or believe the constable's claims it is pertinent to investigate the motive behind this fabrication.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2010 on page no. 11

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