Physician Heal Theft (JULY 31, 2007)

One must applaud the Centre’s, particularly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s, role in promoting the cause of justice in Dr Mohammad Hanif’s case, who had been illegally detained by the Australian police on trumped up charges.

It has become clear that the police had tried to mislead the court by putting up concocted "facts" before it. The police also confessed that it had made wrong entries in Dr Hanif’s diary to implicate him.

We must put on record our appreciation for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tireless efforts to get the innocent doctor his freedom. For all his efforts to get an Indian citizen honourably acquitted the prime minister was publicly lampooned by Mr LK Advani. Although the Australian court has found him innocent, Mr Advani in his usual irresponsible manner charged the PM with "losing sleep over getting a ‘terrorist’ freed".

Interestingly, the CBI had in its initial recommendations over the Babri Masjid demolition urged that Mr Advani and his cohorts should be tried for having committed a terrorist act. Thanks to power play and absence of rule of law he is still a free man despite his offence. He should have been the last man to make such insinuation against an innocent person.

However, we must admit that neither the legal community nor rights groups in India have shown the kind of interest in saving innocent people here as their counterparts have done in Australia. The record of government is even poorer.

As many as 70 percent of jail inmates in India are under trials who have very little reason to languish behind bars. Many have already spent years and decades in jails even though the courts have yet to deliver a verdict in their cases. Many are sure to be found not guilty, in which case the state would have snatched away years and decades of their life without any rhyme or reason. Many others would get a shorter sentence than the number of years already spent in captivity.

The case of Dalits, Muslims and tribals is far more miserable. They are branded criminals by men like Mr Advani even without having committed any offence. Quite often the police are unsympathetic and hostile and frame false charges. After all we have enough Daya Nayaks and DG Vanzaras in our police forces whose lawlessness and criminality know no bounds.

From one end of the country to the other persons from weaker sections of society are falling victim to unjust law enforcement machinery. It is time we shifted our focus to these unfortunate people within our own country. Then only will we sound convincing before foreigners.

Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam


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