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Pressure paid off

SNS |

To brownie points can be claimed by the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for eventually ordering a judicial inquiry into the killing of eight SIMI activists not long after they had escaped from the high-security Central Jail in Bhopal. It was clearly a case of  discretion taking precedence over an attempted display of “political valour”, after some extremely damning material became available in the public domain. After dithering over his initial promise to have a probe conducted by the National Investigation Agency, the state government bowed to the demand from almost the entire gamut of political opposition which insisted that nothing short of a probe by a judicial authority would satisfy public opinion. Not just political opposition, the High Court’s seeking a detailed report on the killing left the chief minister with little option.

Only when the terms of reference of the probe are published and the allied investigation team is publicly announced will the sincerity of the government be established – in the past the scope of such probes has been deliberately limited to prevent a comprehensive picture being presented. It would also be interesting to note what part the central government played in having the judicial probe ordered – having taken a fair amount of flak over the mishandling of the OROP suicide controversy, Modi-sarkar would have preferred not to risk giving the Opposition another platform. The political calculation could well have been that ordering a judicial probe would put the issue on the back-burner for long enough to have a de-fanging impact, and only the    immediate “connections” of those gunned down would care to check out the inquiry’s findings.

The BJP would, however, have already suffered from the rash statements from its several votaries – who are widely believed to be encouraged to take extreme postures, to both gauge the public mood, and then open up an escape route for the leadership. That would appear to have been the case in the present instance since party    spokespersons had accused those who questioned the police version of the “encounter” of being anti-national, and terrorism-supporters out to    demoralise the security forces. Not for them were the alleged SIMI activists (for obvious sectarian reasons) entitled to the due process of the law. It is a matter of considerable shame that the BJP leadership did not rein-in the loudmouths – or was there some method in that madness? The “revelations” in the wake of the jailbreak point  to gross mismanagement of the prison, the diversion of guards to VIP “protection” duties, etc., and the killing of the eight men aimed at preventing such misdeeds being exposed – after all, dead men tell no tales.

Editorial