A senior Cabinet minister stated that the oil import lobby was threatening central ministers to enforce its policies. The lobby was not influencing ministers or pressuring them. It was actually “threatening” them. Apart from a solitary exception, the opposition was silent. The Prime Minister was mute. The President of course, busy with gracing ceremonial functions, appeared unconcerned. Can such things happen in even a banana republic?
There is a case in court related to an alleged fake encounter that cost lives including that of a young woman, Ishrat Jahan. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had advised the Gujarat police that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar terrorist. The opposition is making much of this claim. The court rightly observed that it was not concerned with whether those killed “were terrorists or normal human beings. In any case, they should not have been liquidated.” The court pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for failing to focus on this aspect, rather than on nailing the allegedly false information passed on by the IB to the Gujarat police.
The opposition and TV commentators are making much of the alleged terrorist links of Ishrat Jahan instead of ascertaining whether she and her companions were killed in cold blood in a fake encounter, which would be a serious crime. The two premier investigative agencies for fighting terror, CBI and IB, are in public contention and the CBI has arrested a senior IB officer for alleged involvement in a conspiracy with the Gujarat police.
The IB responded by leaking information to the media about evidence related to Ishrat Jahan&’s terror links. It released an FBI report from the US, which quoted David Coleman Headley quoting a Lashkar terrorist leader quoting another Lashkar operative claiming that another Lashkar operator had recruited one Ishrat Jahan as a suicide bomber.
This thrice removed hearsay was seized upon by IB as clinching proof that Ishrat Jahan was a terrorist. The National Investigative Agency (NIA) refused to share with the media the full report submitted by the FBI to Indian authorities. The American source of the report seemed to be the clincher for NIA and IB.
Oddly enough, detailed US investigation leading to identifying five Pakistani terrorists responsible for the Samjhauta Express blast, UN acceptance of that probe, the imposition of UN sanctions against those responsible for the blast, which could not take effect only because China exercised its UN veto, was completely ignored by the NIA. It accused Hindu terrorists led by Swami Aseemanand responsible for that terror strike. How was thrice removed hearsay sourced to David Coleman Headley more reliable than official US probe findings authenticated by the UN?
One would have thought that the Opposition and the media would focus on these issues. Instead, both are obsessed with determining the moral dimensions related to the split between the BJP and JD-U. It is mystifying how morality is relevant to the split. The JD-U, for electoral considerations, dumped the BJP.
The BJP, for electoral considerations, is promoting Narendra Modi. It is a simple and legitimate attempt by both parties to advance their respective electoral prospects. Why confuse the issue with morality? And why not attend to the shocking conduct displayed by the government related to national security? Even banana republics perform better.
The writer is a veteran journalist and cartoonist. He blogs at www.rajinderpuri.wordpress.com
The Ishrat Jahan encounter: A timeline
Ishrat Jahan (19), a college student, along with three others ~ Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar ~ was killed in an alleged encounter by Ahmedabad Crime Branch on 15 June, 2004. The case has gone through many twists ans turns since then. The Ishart Jahan case one is among many that the media has failed to take notice of. It is in the prevalence cases like these that India starts resembling a banana republic. Below is a brief timeline of the case:
15 June, 2004: Ishrat Jahan and 3 others were killed in an ‘encounter’ in the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Gujarat police say they were members of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and were hatching a conspiracy to kill Modi.
September 2009: Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate SP Tamang called the encounter ‘fake’.
August 2010: The Gujarat High Court asked the Supreme Court-appointed SIT headed by former CBI Director RK Raghavan ~ tasked with investigating the Gujarat riots ~ to take up the case.
September 2010: The High Court constituted a new SIT after the Raghavan-headed SIT expressed its inability to undertake the probe.
November 2010: The apex court rejected the Gujarat government’s plea challenging the Gujarat High Court order to form a new SIT.
December 2010: The new 3-member SIT began investigating the case; it recorded statements of witnesses and police officials involved in the case.
28 January, 2011: SIT member Satish Varma filed an affidavit stating that the ‘encounter’ was fake. He accused other two members of the SIT of not allowing the probe to proceed in an unbiased manner.
8 April, 2011: A division bench of the Gujarat High Court told state authorities that the court would hand over the probe to central agencies (like the CBI or NIA) if the state did not allow the SIT to probe without any hindrance.
29 July, 2011: A 1978 batch Bihar cadre IPS officer currently serving on central deputation, Rajiv Ranjan Verma, was appointed as the new chairman of the SIT probing the encounter.
November, 2011: The SIT headed by Rajiv Ranjan Verma told the court that the encounter was ‘staged’. A division bench of the Gujarat HC ordered a fresh FIR to be lodged under IPC 302 against those involved in executing the ‘encounter’.
23 November, 2011: The CBI arrested 4 Rajasthan cops in the fake encounter case; they were Nisar Khan, Naresh Sharma, ASI Surendra Singh (all posted in Jaipur) and SI Satyanarayan Godara, posted in Bikaner.
24 November, 2011: The Gujarat High Court appointed senior IPS officer J V Ramudu as chief of the SIT. The High Court came down heavily on the Gujarat government and rejected its proposal for transfer the ‘encounter’ case to the Special Task Force (STF).
December 2011: The court ordered a CBI probe in the case after the SIT concluded that the encounter was a ‘staged shootout’. The court indicted the Gujarat police for ‘trust deficit’ and asked SIT chief RR Verma to be the complainant in the fresh FIR to be lodged with the CBI.
14 February, 2013: The CBI arrested IPS officer GL Singhal in connection with the fake encounter.
23 February, 2013: The CBI arrested two police officers ~ JG Parmar and Tarun Barot ~ who were part of the two teams that eventually gunned down Ishrat Jahan and three others.
2 March, 2013: Girish Singhal, the first police officer from Gujarat to be arrested by the CBI in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, tendered his resignation; he was apparently unhappy over the way he was treated by the state government.
4 June, 2013: IPS officer DG Vanzara was arrested by the CBI from jail.
13 June, 2013: Amidst growing concern in the IB and the home ministry over the direction of the CBI investigation into the case involving IB special director Rajinder Kumar, the CBI removed IPS Satish Verma from its probe team.