The plot thickens by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (June 20, 2016)


Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Killing somebody without justification is a great crime. It is a greater crime if the state is the killer, because the state is there to protect citizens, not to kill them wantonly. Also, destroying the evidence of the murder is an additional crime. Producing false evidence in this connection is yet another crime. The Modi-led Gujarat government in 2004 and the Modi led Union government in 2016 stands indicted for all these in the Ishrat Jahan case. Ishrat, a 19-year old young woman, was killed in what judge Tamang said was a fake encounter on June 15, 2004 in Ahmedabad, along with three others.

Since then the Gujarat government has been trying to prove that the encounter was not fake. Interestingly, the “encounter-specialist” (this is what they call themselves with misplaced pride) DG Vanzara and other police officers involved with such alleged fake encounters had been cooling their heels in jail for several years, till recently, when they were released on bail. Amit Shah, the present BJP president, was Gujarat minister of state for home. He was also jailed for allegedly masterminding extrajudicial killings, and has been out on bail for a long while.

The Gujarat policemen have been claiming that they killed Ishrat and the three others because they were planning to kill the then chief minister, Narendra Modi. They said they had got a hint from Central intelligence. The Centre’s role in such cases is to pass the information to the state concerned, which has to further enquire into the case and prepare a proper response to it. The BJP government has been trying to pass on the blame for the killing on the Union home ministry’s input. The ministry was then led by P. Chidambram.

Since then Chidambram has been clarifying that the home ministry’s two affidavits in the case had explained that the responsibility of checking Central intelligence info and further working on the input lay with the state police, not Centre. Yet, with sheer lung power and an orchestrated media din the BJP has been trying to drown Chidambram’s voice of reason.

Meanwhile, in a rare display of Kafkaesque grotesquery the Union home minister Rajnath Singh recently admitted in Parliament that crucial files of Ishrat Jahan encounter had gone missing from the home ministry. He announced an enquiry into the episode. As this charade was going on people wondered as to how could such crucial files go missing from the home ministry, which represents the whole country’s security. Whose neck will be saved if the files go missing? Who benefits from such a conspiracy? Naturally, the one who benefits from such a charade is responsible for the disappearance.

Rajnath Singh made the additional secretary home BK Prasad head of the probe. This man was caught on tape tutoring a witness, Ashok Kumar, a former director in home ministry. Prasad’s telephonic conversation with Kumar was taped by The Indian Express. Prasad, the probe chief is heard in the tape tutoring Kumar: “Mere ko yeh poochhna hai ki aap ne ye paper dekha? Aap ko kehna hai ki ye paper nahin dekha…seedhi si baat hai.” (I have to ask you, ‘Did you see the [Ishrat] paper?’ You have to say ‘I didn’t see the paper.’ It is as simple as that.

With this expose the government’s credibility has been torn to pieces. Chidambram stands vindicated and hope of justice for Ishrat’s and others’ families has receded further.


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