One thing which everyone should agree is that terrorism is terrorism, killing innocent people for any reason, is a crime and must be dealt with harshly. Religion or motivations of a terrorist are of no consequence and people who are suspected of being terrorists should be dealt with in the same way irrespective of their religion. So to say that these so-called “Hindu terrorists”, if they are indeed terrorists, did it to avenge bomb blasts by SIMI, is akin to Osama Bin Laden’s justification for America’s 9-11. An eye for an eye will leave all of us blind, and perhaps, dead.
Another thing we all can agree is that no innocent person should suffer in the name of combating terrorists. Even if we were to frame tougher laws to fight terrorism, there should be adequate safeguards in it to prevent its misuse. Ironically, while the BJP wants tougher POTA like laws yet it claims that the present laws (which it has described as soft) are being misused by Congress to frame Hindu leaders. Can it ensure tougher laws will not be misused to frame others? Protection of Human rights and rights and dignity of suspects have been the main demands of Muslim leaders all these years. Could they be right?
Third thing we can all agree is that no incidence of terrorism or its investigations should be used to gain political mileage. Without getting into the debate of whether Pragya Singh and Lt. Col. Purohit are innocent or not, the entire sequence of events surrounding the Malegaon ATS do not seem neutral. Coming as it does on eve of National elections the conduct of the ATS in giving daily doses to the media of “Hindu Terrorism” should be condemned and seems to be aimed at scaring the Muslims of India from the “Hindu terrorists” and demonstrating that there is “need” to tackle “Hindu terrorism” to protect the Indian Muslims. And guess which party can protect the Indian Muslims? You got it right, the Congress of course.
Unofficial leaks from unnamed sources, someone’s hypothesis, a line of thinking and even alleged confessions under Narco analysis are leaked to the news channels as gospel truth. Not surprisingly, no one in the Congress government in Maharasthra or Center is doing anything to plug the leaks. That the country is getting polarized on account of these daily innuendoes is of no consequence to our political parties.
Fourth thing which we should all agree is that the behaviour of our media is unabashedly shameful. Channels like NDTV have been very active in serving out daily doses of Hindu bashing. All leaks from ATS are dutifully analyzed and carried with pictures of Hindu leaders dressed in their religious attire. Particularly condemnable is the daily display of Lt. Col. Purhoit’s photograph in Military uniform, full with the medals on his chest. Does not showing a uniformed officer every day as terrorist dent Army’s image? Can we not get any photograph of him, not in Army uniform?
While broadcasting daily juicy details of this investigation, NDTV was the only channel which did not even mention Pragya’s charge of being tortured in ATS custody. A number of Indians have been talking about bias in electronic media for some time now, could they be right? One had vainly hoped that the media would have learned to be more restrained after the Arushi fiasco, when her father was declared the murderer with scandalous details of wife swapping and sex being broadcast repeatedly by the media, all of which later turned out to be untrue. If Pragya Singh and Lt. Col. Purohit are eventually proved innocent, will NDTV pay damages to them?
Three Kashmiri youth, who were police informers but framed by some in Delhi police and jailed as terrorists for 3 yrs were released a few days ago by the Delhi High Court, as innocent. Who will compensate them for three long years they spent in jail on trumped up charges? And is at all possible to compensate people who have been so grossly wronged by the system?
The most important lesson we should learn from this episode is that we must have government systems which are independent and be able to resist manipulation by the political party in power. Luckily our judiciary is reasonably independent and it prevents politicians in power from running amok. Indians across all religions and regions have faith in the Judiciary.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about police, IB and CBI. Sadly, at the time of Independence, our founding fathers kept police under the control of States and this resulted in excessive interference in its functioning. If all the State Polices could be merged into a central Indian Police service, like other Civil services, then even if law and order was kept as a State subject, it would be able to resist political interference in a much better way, and this would give the Police impartiality and respect, both of which are lacking at present. Add to this the recommendations of the Supreme Court about Police reforms; we could have a world class professional police force. Unfortunately because the politicians would be the worst sufferers under such an independent police, they will ensure such a situation never arises.
Unless we learn from our mistakes, unless we stop manipulative politics, unless we stop dividing India on religion and region, we will ensure the eventual balkanization of India. Unfortunately the politicians today see no further than their noses.
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