Friday, 11 September 2009

A distrubing trend of fakes

The report submitted by Metropolitan magistrate S P Tamang on the encounter of four people in Ahmedabad in June 15, 2004 by the Gujarat police would have sure come as a vindication for the Ishrat family who have been pleading the innocence of their daughter Ishrat Jahan. The fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shiekh, Amjad Ali and Abdul Gani by Ahmedabad police commissioner K R Kaushik and DIG D G Vanzara among others, reminds us of the horror that could happen when people who are supposed to protect us take the law in their hands for personal gains such as promotions and goodwill from the political class. The dangers of the anti-terror bill passed by the Modi government, which makes confession made before a police officer admissible in a court, should be viewed in this light.

Names like Sanjit (killed in Manipur last July), Abdul Rehman (’07), Sohrabuddin Sheikh (November ’07), Manorama Devi (July ’04), Sadiq Jamal (January ’03) and Sameer Khan Pathan (October ’02) should not become mere statistical figures in the minds of the public. Such gross human rights violations should be protested, otherwise a Frankenstein of sorts will be created and our indifference towards the issue will have to be blamed. In the light of this it would not be alarming to know that the Gujarat police face allegations of killing 20 people in 11 fake encounters between 2002-’06 - in all cases the ‘terrorists’ had schemed for the life of the state chief minister Narendra Modi.

While extra judicial killings are not a new phenomenon in India where it has been present in the conflict zones for decades, the fact that it is spreading to other parts should have the authorities and the public concerned. That trigger-happy Dirty Harry(s) are a growing tribe is evident in the alarming rise in the number of ‘encounter’ and custodial deaths reported from almost every part of the country. Closer to home is the recent report from Chennai on the death of A Lakshmanan in a lock-up after being subjected to third-degree interrogation.

The affidavit from the Union ministry of home affairs supporting the claims of the state government that the four people killed on June 15 was terrorists is a tell-tale of the lack of co-ordination between various government agencies concerned with the nation’s security.

Revelations such as the one made by Justice (Retd) C Upendra Singh earlier this month that extra judicial killings are a reality only underline a serious lapse and subsequent cover-up on the part of the police and other officials. It is also unfortunate to note that in almost all ‘encounters’ the ‘terrorists’ belong to the minority community - thereby further paving way for alienation and prejudice laden stereotyping. These disturbing incidents should also pan our attention to the fact that for its effective and professional working, reforms in the police has to happen and it should be purged from external involvement - read political - at all levels.

(Edited version of this post is available at: