Thursday, December 12, 2013

Remembering Hemant Karkare on his birth anniversary: Salute to the brave police officer who was killed by terrorists

The brave police officer, Hemant Karkare, who headed the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) in Mumbai [Maharashtra], would have been 60 today.

Unfortunately, five years ago, when terrorists from Pakistan launched an attack on Indian soil, Karkare, 55, and two other brave officials, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte, were killed.

Karkare is remembered for investigating the role of right-wing radicals in terror attacks. From 2002-2003, there were many incidents when the police and intelligence agencies got clue that these extremists were involved.

In many cases like blasts at Parbhani, Nanded and Purna, investigation slowed down after sometime and the perpetrators were not hunted.

In Ajmer, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid [Hyderabad], Samjhauta Express attacks also, there were enough clues, but investigation was halted somehow or just the usual suspects were quizzed and made to 'confess'. It is not easy to look at the other side. Especially, when everyone expects you to just look at a particular angle.

Then, there are forces--visible and invisible, which make attempts to thwart investigation when it gets 'uncomfortable'. It is also not easy to accuse members of organisations that are linked to one of the two big mainstream political parties in the country.

In certain states, due to political party in power, such probes were hushed up. Mostly, officers who seemed 'enthusiastic' got the message through different ways. In Maharashtra, KP Raghuvanshi earlier headed the ATS. But after Karkare-led ATS cracked the Malegaon case, it exposed a lot of groups and people.

Not just the seven above-mentioned cases, but similar incidents including blasts or foiled bids in Modasa, Kanpur, Bhopal, Goa or explosions at cinema halls in Vashi, Panvel, Thane [Mumbai] and Nagraj Jambagi's module in Karnataka, were seen with a fresh eye.

Officers who didn't dare to venture into this territory, were now looking into possibility of the 'other side'.
In fact, the list is quite long. Cases in which Hindutva-linked organisation's role came to fore, number more than a dozen.

But after Pakistani terrorists entered India and the brave officers were killed, the investigation in different cases suffered.Pragya Thakur and his group had been nailed by then. But the nexus of the men in uniform and many other similar cases were not investigated later on.

It took barely four years, and the popular narrative became similar to what it was before 2008. Once again, probe in every blast turned to single direction.No denying the role of Muslim extremists in terrorist acts in India. But the possibility that in a case, there can be a different angle--Left-wing [Naxals] or Right-wing, is just not given a thought. In many cases, there were leads but they were not considered at all.

The role of a section of media has been questionable. [Link to a recent report in Caravan magazine]. Blasts near Koodankulam nuclear plant were just not considered big news. Killing of over 50 politicians and policemen in a single strike by Maoists in Chhattisgarh this year was not termed 'terror attack'.

The one-sided reporting goes on along with linking Muslims with the word Terror. No wonder, Hemant Karkare is remembered and loved by large section of the society, because he dared to tread the path, few take. He was criticised and even got threats.

There have been many decorated officials in Indian Police Service (IPS) before him and after him. But none like him. The slain made the force proud. He will always be remembered for his impartiality and fair investigation. A martyr, he duly got the Ashok Chakra. A big salute to him on his 60th birthday.

[This is the strength of India that despite allegations of biases, there are honest officials at different levels who take stand and don't succumb to pressure. While on one hand there are fake encounters and innocents getting framed but on the other hand, there are also investigators who refuse to toe the popular line and act impartially.]