Human Rights

India fighting America’s disinformation war

By Mustafa Khan

Will the modern day Neros now in Delhi fiddle away precious time as the country is inching towards disaster one after another? The same kind of handling of investigation by the local police and then the ATS and then the CBI that leads to prolonging the agony of the innocents rubbing their heels away in gruel pain and ad absurdum waiting in prisons across the country. The classic example of Samjhauta Express blast 2007 investigation has become a kind of archetype pattern. It has made us the laughing stock of the world in our so much vaunted fight against terror a la USA.

It is common knowledge that the Haryana police had almost come to a breakthrough in their investigation when the National Security Advisor MK Narayanan stepped in and told the government that it would expose army involvement (Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit!) and expose our Achilles' heel to Pakistan. That produced what can be understood by changing horses in flooded mid-stream. The insensate horses of ATS, IB, and the Special Cells of police have been swept away by powerful undercurrents. The undercurrents are of ideology, stereotyping, and the juggernaut of office promotion, racketeering, bias and partiality.

It is strange that India should be following USA in tandem. As the Americans are fighting information war through their war on terror, India is doing that in copy cat manner. Their latest fight in Marja in Afghanistan made the cluster of farm houses there into a big city with 80,000 people under the sway of the Talibans. When the journalists lifted the veil of secrecy of the government agencies they discovered Marja to be not even like a small town, let alone a city. The fertile agricultural land is busy with farmers producing food for stomach and not fodder for cannons. The secret agencies in America know how gullible the people are to believe what heroic work their soldiers are engaged in while fighting in that far away god forsaken land of Afghanistan.

In India also we are fighting information war. If the bravado of the right-wing groups is indicative of anything, it surely has enough steam to propel the police and the investigation agencies to continue their charge like that of Don Quixote against the windmill.

Why did Home Secretary GK Pillai suggest that the probe in Pune blast would be conducted by the ATS? Did he not get the wind that ATS under KP Raghuvanshi was not competent enough to move an inch in the investigation of Malegaon blast of 2008 after the assassination of Hemant Karkare? In fact, whatever Karkare had fearlessly and fairly discovered through his inquiry has been brushed under the carpet of the new dispensation of KP Raghuvanshi. The letter of Fahim Ansari (Urdu Times March 8, 2010) from prison rings in stentorian voice with truth of his assertion and claim that Karkare had found him innocent in the case of the serial blasts of 2007 in the Mumbai local trains. Karkare had remarked to the police and the ATS subordinates to see that Fahim is set free. It is also on record that Karkare did not find any SIMI involvement in the 2006 Malegaon blast. He was most professional and objective in his attitude and work.

Pune bomb blast and Bhiku chowk (Malegaon) bomb blast of 2008 are alike. In both the cases the police mischievously gave out that it was gas cylinder explosion. Tiny iron balls had pierced walls, shop shutters and human bodies at Bhiku chowk and yet the police willfully persisted for quite some times in claiming that it was cylinder blast. The people were so angered that they started violent protest and the police had to shoot the protesters to bring the situation under control. Luckily, Sadhvi Pragyasingh's motorcycle revealed the truth. In Pune the fire fighters washed the German bakery as if they were engaged in the Herculean task of washing the Augean stables. They left no stone unturned to wipe out the traces. At whose behest?

For quite some time nobody had claimed responsibility for Malegaon 2008 blast, just like in the Pune case. The police were agog with their inability to apprehend anyone in both the cases. Unlike Malegaon, in Pune they dug out an old phone call to Arif Pathan: "An officer who identified himself as 'Tayde' alog with three others took me to Pune and I was constantly asked about a particular phone number from which I must have received calls two years back." Pathan said. "The police did not tell me whose number it was nor the context in which it had been tracked."(Yahoo, Sunday 7, 2010). For three days he was interrogated at an unknown place where there were also four youths held whom the police wanted him to identify. All this reminds one of the almost extraordinary renditions that the Hyderabad police were engaged in sometime back.

Arif's fate would still be shrouded in mystery of disappearance had not his family created a stir and his connection to such a well known figure like Sanjay Dutt created yet another enigma. But then the million dollar question is: Is ATS ingenuous enough to say that it was really sidelined and the fiasco over Arif Pathan planted to discredit it?

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

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