Thursday, September 14, 2006

From Mumbai to Malegaon: Skewed vision of police & Congress government's apathy

Role of Maharashtra police in terror probes has been far from satisfactory
It was befitting the Congress politicians, though they'd never have in their wildest dream, imagined such a response.

Malegaon residents snubbed Sonia Gandhi & Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who landed here a day after the blasts.

The Congress chief and the State chief minister had come to this 'power loom town' for a display of their concern towards people and handing out 'charity' of disbursing the pittance of Rs 1 lakh for every dead when the families had barely finished with the last rites.

1. Compensation that was sanctioned for the kin of victims in the Mumbai blasts was Rs 5 lakh, so it seems even the second class citizens of a third class city [infrastructure-wise] could have been offered, at least, Rs 2 lakh!

The compensations vary [depending on media coverage and other factors] like a boy rescued from a borewell hole who gets Rs 3-4 lakh and free education for life for suviving in a deep pit to Rs 3-5 lakh in Gujarat and UP for victims of terrorism and riots respectively.

2. The City of 8 lakh [0.8 million, 70% Muslim] has just one municipal-run hospital of 30 beds and no ambulance. The victims had to be ferried on handcarts to hospital and due to lack of facilities and beds, taken as far away to Nasik.

3. Deshmukh and other leaders of his party had made false promises of opening hospital in the past but they never materialised in the last 50 years. It was the same Congress government in the state that had let the police loose on ordinary Muslims in the aftermath of serial blasts of Mumbai.

There were incidents like as many as 200 Muslims getting rounded up from a locality in midnight swoops and illegally detained and the officials [politicians also] refused to believe that any 'other' extremist organisation could be involved in the blasts.

4.Though I hate this nomenclature of terrorists as Hindu or Muslim but the attitude of police was inexplicable even after the incidents in Parbhani, Jalna and Nanded apart from the blasts in Jama Masjid in New Delhi and incidents in Maharashtra when the hand of Bajrang Dal and other extremist groups was found.

Malegaon: A City that has been targeted repeatedly
5. It is not that I believe that organisations with Muslim sounding names would not kill Muslims [nothing could be more foolish than this thought] but investigative agencies should not appear so sympathetic to Bajrang Dal despite its repeated involvement that has been proved.

"It was in April this year that a bomb went off at the residence of Bajrang Dal officebearer Naresh Rajkondwar in Nanded. Naresh and his accomplice Himanshu Phanse died on the spot. The police seized timer, switches, detonators, 1.5 kg gunpowder from the spot. 

Two other accused died in the incident. The narco-analysis report was submitted to the police but they were reluctant to divulge the information about the three accused", writes Times of India, in its report, published on April 12.

Similarly, Sanjana Chaudhary, member of Bajrang Dal was arrested for bomb blast at a mosque in Parbhani but probe has not progressed even after Chaudhary's arrest, writes Nitisha Natu in the news item 'Police grope in the dark on Hindu groups'.

Besides, several incidents in 2002-2003 suggested Bajrang Dal hand but what angers the Muslim community is that the police and the state government simply ignore them and are not ready to link any possibility of their involvement with the Malegaon blast.

6. Even the fact that skullcaps and fake beards were recovered from the Bajrang Dal activists [reported by many national dailies], the state government and its agencies were not interested in probing the organisations and the links of suspects.

7. I remember when the blast occurred in Nanded, the Home Minister RR Patil immediately named 'Islamic terrorists' in a hurriedly called press conference but when the accused were arrested, his enthusiasm was missing and he neither went for a deeper probe. The accused were not labelled as terrorists either.

Why this double standard? Everybody knows RSS cadres have a history of bomb-making and involvement in fanning communal hatred despite propaganda of its being a cultural organisation in recent years [one need not remind that their men were involved in killing Gandhi and its involvement found in innumerable riots].

CM Sudhakar Rao Naik AND 92-93 Mumbai riots
8. Such was the Congress state government and state-machinery's response to blasts that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to issue a statement and assert that 'role of Hindu organisations couldn't be ruled out' two days back.

But for Maharashtra government, it seems that a terrorist simply can't be a non-Muslim. The indiscriminate arrests of Muslims in the aftermath of Mumbai blasts suggested the approach.

The State Home department and Anti-Terror Squad of the state refused to believe that there could be another hand though the investigators were reportedly closing down on a group of Hindu extremists.

What angers the Muslims in Maharashtra is the chameleon like leaders of Congress though the Muslims have themselves fallen in the trap of the party due to lack of political alternative and the perpetual fear of BJP-Shiv Sena instilled by Congress leaders.

Time and again the Congress has come to power in Maharashtra with the promise of fair treatment to Muslims and the minorities have fallen in the trap again and again--the fear of 'right-wing BJP and the communal Shiv Sena'.

And after the PM's and Union Home Secretary's statements that involvement of no group could be categorically ruled out, the state police suddenly seems to have broadened the scope of their investigation process.

The ATS chief who had earlier 'ruled out the involvement of Hindu outfits' reached diametrically opposite stand of 'can't conform role of Hindu fundamentalist organisations yet'.

This was despite earlier leads as reported in papers that terrorist groups active in Kashmir would not have committed another incident as already terror trails were leading to Malegaon and it would have caused arrests of members of their sleeping cells.

Besides, there was belief of police that during Shab Barat such incident by a 'Muslim' terrorist group would 'antagonise Muslims' (as if Indian Muslims are not antagonised with terrorists already and Indian Muslims are't victims of terrorism)--Such communal vision in terror trail.

Now that most of the suspects caught are not Muslims, the point is not that Muslims can't be involved, anybody could be and must be treated alike. The investigators should be open-minded and must not be biased to such an extent, as witnessed recently.
9. Now the verdict for Mumbai blasts is all set to be delivered, it is pertinent to remember the role of the then Congress Chief Minister (late) Sudhakar Rao Naik. Of course, the Shiv Sena perpetrated the riots that caused over a 1,000 deaths but it was absolute inaction of Congress Chief Minister, who had refused to take action & let the rioters kill citizens in December- January 1992.

When prominent citizens approached him to rein in the rioters, he told them to go to Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and request the latter to end the riots. The fate of the Justice Srikrishna Commission's report on riots is known to all.

The same Congress that promised action against policemen and politicians indicted by the Commission [part of its election promises] did not implement the report. Riots occurred before blasts but the petition for implementing the Commission report is pending with the Supreme Court. No effort was made to speed up the process for arrests of riot accused by government.

10. All terrorist acts are equally condemnable and the accused need toughest sentences. But absolute one-sided action and exonerating some militant groups just because they are not Muslim send bad signals. Except TOI and HT, Hindi and Marathi papers did not carry the stories about Bajrang Dal workers and the recovery of skull caps, fake beards. 

Why? [Does it not make a good copy like the one about mushrooming madarsas or madarsas breeding terror]. And when police and the other government agencies function in such a way, their credibility is seriously eroded. 

Unless there is confidence, share of information and good intelligence input would not come from the sections that feel alienated and persectued. Surely, the police and politicians must introspect for the sake of the nation.

And the worst is the politicians and mediamen parroting that Muslims and Hindus of Malegaon showed restrained and remained united. Fools, you think Muslims and Hindus who live in each and every town of India, are mad.

As if, we are ready to fight and kill each other in an hour of tragedy like the British thought of us: Hindus and Muslims, always raring to kill each other. Better you, politicians learn to control your own tongues and spare us of your biases. It would do good to all of us.

Read more posts on this blog on

1. Extra-judicial killings and Fake encounters
2. Terrorism