Former DGP of Gujarat’s Piece

View point – for
publication

 

Electoral mandate, fake
encounters and Rule of Law

The Apex Court order (25th
Jan, 2012) entrusting enquiry to a retired Supreme Court judge,
Justice M. B. Shah, of all 21 extra judicial killings by Gujarat
Police from October 2002 to December 2006, is welcomed by all law
abiding citizens. This has confirmed the representation of the Human
Rights activists that the Modi Government, since the days of
anti-minority carnage, following the gruesome killing of 59 Hindus
on 27th February, 2002 in train fire at Godhra, has
unabashedly subverted the Criminal Justice System, to delay and deny
Justice to riot victims and carry out its false propaganda of high
voltage threat from militants to Narendra Modi and Sangh Parivar
leaders. Earlier, the higher Judicial bodies had intervened for
equity and justice to riot victims by ordering transfer of trial of
two riot cases to Maharashtra State; reopening 2000 odd closed cases
by Gujarat police; appointment of a Special Investigation Team
(SIT), to reinvestigate nine major mass killing cases and complaint
by Mrs. Ehsan Jafri, widow of former Congress MP, brutally murdered
by rioters in 2002; and directing CBI to investigate fake encounter
killings of Sohrabuddin and others.

Of the 21 fake encounter
killings, the first was in October 2002, a month before assembly
elections in which the Gujarat Electorate gave a massive mandate to
riot tainted Chief Minister Narendra Modi and BJP. Many factors
contributed to the continuance of fake encounters by a set of police
officers like DIG Vanzara from October 2002 to April 2007, when
Vanzara and other police officers were arrested for extra judicial
killings.

Firstly, the Modi
Government has been nurturing an ill-founded and audacious
presumption that the electoral mandate in 2002 and in 2007, despite
its involvement in planning and execution of anti-minority
holocaust, is a blanket license to further marginalize the spirit
and practice of the Rule of Law. Any criticism of riots, deviation
from the cannons of justice delivery, stereotyped versions about the
process of encounters, identity and organizational linkup and
antecedents of victims of fake encounters were ultimately countered
by Government spokesman on the ground of immense popular support in
the elections and public approval to Narendra Modi.

Secondly, the mandatory
post-encounter structural administrative response, like departmental
and executive magisterial probe, under the provisions of Gujarat
Police and Revenue Manuals and regulations about State Intelligence
BranchÂ’s (SIB) suo motto probe were conveniently flouted. Even
hierarchically senior officers to the “the encounter experts” dared
not to enquire against these blue eyed boys of the Government and
they deemed that the Government, particularly the Chief Minister
Narendra Modi, did consent all these fake encounters.

Thirdly, these fake
encounters have been part of the satanic heritage of Gujarat Police,
since the killing of notorious gangster Abdul Latif of Ahmedabad
city in the late 1990s. These are treated as legitimate police
action though the means of this crime control strategy was illegal
and unethical. General public and community leaders often insisted
upon extra-judicial killings of alleged incorrigible and so called
desperate goons as a means of preventive action like proceedings
under section 107 to 110 CRPC, Externment under the Bombay Police
Act and PASA/ POTA detentions. The bitter truth is that no goon or
extortionist grows in stature, range of operation and extent of
money spinning organized crimes without the active connivance of the
ruling political elite and their collaborating police officers. The
killing of Abdul Latif in fake encounter was actually to avoid the
danger of his speaking out incriminating information about his
mentors among politicians and police officers.

Reportedly the gang of
Sohrabuddin was used by Police and their political masters to extort
money, irrespective of community background of the victims. For the
reasons best known to CBI, probe on nearly 200 petitions from
victims of extortion received by this agency, during investigation
of Sohrabuddin case, was not enquired by CBI, instead these
complaints were forwarded to the state police which had allegedly
coerced the petitioners to submission and withdrawal of the
complaints. Were Sohrabuddin and his companions killed to obviate
the risk of the gang exposing the culpable role of the powerful and
mighty in the State Government who nurtured them? Of late,
throughout India, organized crime is a lucrative economic activity,
so, instead of merely conniving with the operators of crimes,
unscrupulous politicians and police officers make investments in the
“business”, i.e. sale of illicit liquor, gambling, prostitution,
drugs, illicit firearms, land grabbing and so on.

The failure of the long
arm of law in booking the real plotters and perpetrators of the
anti-minority bloodbath in 2002, particularly in the hay days of
fake encounters,  (as on today SIT arrested only one police
inspector rank officer from the official hierarchy, for the riots
resulting in the death of nearly 2000 people), had emboldened the
encounter experts to go ahead with their killing spree for catering
to the nefarious political machinations of their masters, career
advancements and corruption. The impact of media, public opinion and
judicial vigilance, had thankfully resulted in the arrest of
encounter specialists. This has not only driven them out of the
euphoria of immunity from accountability and punishment, due to
their proximity to ruling party, and had also sent the right and
pungent message to potential sycophants and roughish careerist
officers from indulging in anymore fake encounters. Hence no
extra-judicial killings took place since the arrest of Vanzara and
company in 2007. This aspect also will disprove the baseless
propaganda about Muslim militants dispatching armed assassins for
attacking Narendra Modi and Hindu leaders. Are the leaders of Indian
Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed afraid of
imprisoned encounter specialists than when they were on active duty?

Fourthly, fake encounters
were executed with obvious unholy political and unethical
administrative objectives. Political strategic aims of, 1)
Maintaining the publicity of high intensity threat from Islamic
Jehadists against Narendra Modi and Sangh Parivar leaders, 2)
Silencing critics of Narendra Modi in BJP and NDA and 3) Creation of
sympathy and support for Modi and his followers for their
unprecedented “brave action” to project and protect Hindu honour and
image among the bulk of Hindu community throughout India are
discernable. The close men of the CM in police was also keen for
one-up-man ship in comparison to police forces of other states
through fake encounters and elimination of so called Jehadi
elements. They also did indulge in “victim shopping”, viz. arresting
alleged Islamic militants from other states and bringing them to
Gujarat for interrogation and their subsequent extra judicial
killings. Strangely, Gujarat police or central agencies had not
succeeded to bring out any collateral or circumstantial evidence
relating to the “terrorists” killed in encounters like unearthing
the network of these persons, their financers, weaponry, shelters,
communication channels, training centers, so on. Let us not forget
that in none of these cases any relevant information was unearthed
so far. Basic professional requirement even in the arrest of a
pickpocket or a thief is to trace out his abettors and associates,
up to disposers of booty. Why even the central IB, which reportedly
supplied information about the terrorist links of many victims of
fake encounters, did fail to unearth relevant incriminating
collateral information? This should unravel the deceitful inveracity
of practically all encounter stories by Gujarat police.

In fact the fake
encounters by the right hand men of the Chief Minister was an
extension of the official policy of the State Government. The Chief
Secretary, G. Suba Rao, in May-June 2002 wanted DGP and Additional
DGP Intelligence to organize encounters as a preventive action.
Evidence about such illegal verbal instructions was advanced by me
to Justice Nanavati Commission, probing into the riots and SIT, in
my Third Affidavit (April 2005). The fake encounters by Gujarat
police was started after my transfer from the post of ADGP
Intelligence in Sep 2002. Another relevant fact is the reluctance of
senior police officers to initiate any inquiry about alleged
undesirable activities of DIG Vanzara. A report in Sep 2002 about
this officer allegedly planting illicit firearms on members of
minority community in Ahmedabad city on the eve of Rathyatra was not
acted upon by the Commissioner of Police. Strangely, the Chief
Secretary had started an enquiry against the ADGP Intelligence, who
sent this sensitive information to the Commissioner of Police,
Ahmedabad city. Had the Government acted on this information and
corrected Vanzara, the right message would have gone to the police
officers and they would not have indulged in extra judicial
killings, which brought incalculable infamy to the Gujarat State
Government.

The agility of media and
Human Right activists like Javed Akhtar, Teesta Setalvad and B. G.
Varghese coupled with the alacrity of the Apex Court to order a
probe on all fake encounters had energized the Rule of Law in
Gujarat. This will have a deterrent impact on all conscienceless
politicians and knavish police officers from denying right to life
and liberty to innocent Citizens of India.

R. B. Sreekumar

Former DGP Gujarat

Gandhinagar
03-02-2012

 

 


 

 

 


 

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