The charge-sheet filed by the CBI in the Ishrat Jehan encounter killing, despite its limitations, should be widely welcomed as it demonstrates that justice can still prevail in India’s democracy, even in a very difficult situation when very powerful persons are trying to obstruct it.
There are some limitations, of course, as in the difficult situation, all the culprits against whom there was strong evidence have not been named in the first charge-sheet. Despite this limitation, on the whole it is a big step forward in the many-sided efforts that are needed for justice to prevail in many cases of encounter killings in Gujarat.
The persistence of lawyers, family members and activists who continued to struggle for justice in the Ishrat case (which is actually a case of a fake encounter killing of four persons) against terrible odds should be widely appreciated.
This significant step forward should be followed up courageously but also very carefully so that the entire truth about the various encounter killings in Gujarat during the last decade can emerge. There was clearly a pattern in these killings and the evidence so far is overwhelming that these were fake encounter killings. Some of the suspects are obviously involved in more than one such case, and clearly some sanction was obtained at a higher level for these several fake encounter killings to take place one after another.
As very powerful persons are likely to be implicated once the full truth comes out, there is clearly need for caution, persistence, courage and commitment in pursuing these cases. Organisations/activists and media-persons committed to democracy and justice should monitor the progress of these cases very carefully and contribute to the unraveling of truth in a situation where very powerful persons will be trying their best to obstruct the truth.
In fake encounter cases, once the guilty are exposed, they try their best to spread the worst possible allegations about the persons who have been killed. They feel that the more the killed person is defamed, the less cruel their crime will appear. In the process, one should try to understand the double pain of the family members of those persons who have been killed, as can be seen from the statement of Shamima Kauser, mother of Ishrat Jehan. Any attempt to deliberately defame and malign persons who have been killed should therefore also be carefully monitored.
Finally, is it too much to request at least one important BJP leader to take a completely impartial look at all the available evidence in Gujarat encounter killings and then give a completely sincere opinion on this?
The writer is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social initiatives and movements.