Mumbai Post 26/11: An Alternate Perspective
Publication Year: 2010
26/11 shook Mumbai to the core. The attack was brutal and horrific. Nearly 60 people lost their lives at CST, Taj Hotel, and Trident Hotel. Several senior police officers were killed. One of the officers, Hemant Karkare, was investigating the Malegaon blast of 2006, in which personalities like Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, and others who are associated with the RSS ideology of Hindu Rashtra were named. This compilation of articles unravels the full story of the events and raises unanswered queries related to the attack. It also surveys the phenomenon of terrorism and some acts of terror which have not been investigated so far.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Chapter 1: Terror: The Aftermath
- Chapter 2: As the Fires Die: The Terror of the Aftermath
- Chapter 3: Hotel Taj: Icon of Whose India?
- Chapter 4: Why the United States Got it Wrong
- Chapter 5: Death of a Salesman
- Chapter 6: Counter-terrorism Must not Kill Democracy
- Chapter 7: Responding to Mumbai Terror: Need for Diplomacy and Restraint, not War
- Chapter 8: Mumbai under Siege
- Chapter 9: Handling Queries: Democratic Responses—Antulay Remarks and the Aftermath
- Chapter 10: The Mumbai Terror Attacks: Need for a Thorough Investigation
- Chapter 11: India's Terror Dossier: Further Evidence of Conspiracy
- Chapter 12: Terrorism, Rule of Law and Human Rights
- Chapter 13: Acts of Terror and Terrorizing Act: Unfolding Indian Tragedy
- Chapter 14: Our Politicians are Still not Listening
- Chapter 15: Terrorism: Are Stronger Laws the Answer?
- Chapter 16: Lessons from the Mumbai Attack
Copyright © Ram Puniyani and Shabnam Hashmi, 2010
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
First published in 2010 by
SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd
B1/I-1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area
Mathura Road, New Delhi 110 044, India
SAGE Publications Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, California 91320, USA
SAGE Publications Ltd
1 Oliver's Yard, 55 City Road
London EC1Y 1SP, United Kingdom
SAGE Publications Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd
33 Pekin Street
#02-01 Far East Square
Published by Vivek Mehra for SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd, typeset in 10.5/12.6pt Bembo by Star Compugraphics Private Limited, Delhi and printed at Chaman Enterprises, New Delhi.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Mumbai post 26/11: an alternate perspective/edited by Ram Puniyani and Shabnam Hashmi.
Includes bibliographical references.
1. Terrorism—India—Bombay. 2. Terrorism—Prevention—India. I. Puniyani, Ram. II. Hashmi, Shabnam.
HV6433.I4M86 363.3250954'792—dc22 2009 2009047618
ISBN: 978-81-321-0308-0 (HB)
The SAGE Team: Rekha Natarajan, Meena Chakravorty, Vijay Sah and Trinankur Banerjee
The attack on Mumbai (26 November 2008) came as a big jolt to the nation as a whole. Mumbai has been suffering from terrorist attacks earlier also, the major amongst them being the ones of 1993 and 2002. There have been other ones also, which shook the city and created a deep sense of insecurity. The one on 26 November 2008 was marked by a number of flaws in the security; the command structure for fighting against terror came to the light in a painful way. The vulnerability of citizens in the face of global and local atmosphere of terror was there for all to see. Close to 10 terrorists, well equipped with arms, armed to the teeth, land up on the Mumbai shore in a cool manner, take positions in strategic preplanned places, run amok around and maim innocent Mumbai citizens.
The control mechanism took a long time to be put in place. The local police, the military, the navy and finally the National Security Guards (NSG) took charge of the things to salvage the situation. There was a continuous television relay of the activities of terrorists, some of which they watched themselves, the fear and tragedy mix-up and create all the confusions to intensify terrorizing atmosphere.
The average citizen feels frustrated and helpless once again—helpless in the face of unexpected political tragedy, which is not easy to combat and [Page viii]helpless against the inefficient control mechanisms which are hardly in place. Since India in general and Mumbai in particular has faced many acts of terror, the angst is much more intense. And this time around the problem is also of a different magnitude, the terrorists flaunt their indoctrinated mind to land up in an alien country with the aim of killing innocent people, on the pretext of revenge of things which are delineated along communal lines. The worst part of the whole tragedy is that a few brilliant and efficient police officers were also killed in the insane act which was going on.
Such a terrible phenomenon drew many responses. There was a huge coverage of the incident and an equally elaborate analysis of the tragedy. The initial response of helpless citizens was to express their anger against the politicians as a class, perceiving that it is they who should be in charge; it is they who have failed the country and the city. In the process, the Union Home Minister, the Maharashtra Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister had to put in their papers. The central government brought in new legislations, with the hope that the legislation will help in preventing the future acts of terror. At another level it was decided that NSG will be posted not just in Delhi but in other major cities and places where the threat is perceived. The security at stations, airports was further strengthened.
Pakistan was confronted with the evidence that the terrorists came from there, and Pakistan government is answerable for these acts, irrespective of the fact whether the perpetrators are state or non-state actors, [Page ix]so far as these acts originate from there. It is not just that since they were not being encouraged by Pakistan government, this fact exonerates them from the blame of this act. Fortunately the talk of avenging the attack on Mumbai by retaliating and attacking Pakistan, as it emerged, died down soon enough and the government took the path of reasoned approach to the issue rather than succumbing to the emotional hysterical atmosphere which prevailed in the country for the time being. Mercifully since that episode similar terrorist groups have been active but not in India but in Pakistan itself. Day in and day out Pakistan is facing the problem and that too at a much worse level. The Taliban took possession of Swat valley and unleashed their fundamentalist agenda there—atrocities on innocent citizens, targeting of minorities in particular.
This 26/11 attack raised multiple questions: the questions related to the nature of terrorism itself, the peculiarities of this attack, the political repercussions and responses which followed and the change in the security atmosphere here. Many a valuable articles appeared in the media, which also went deeper and tried to analyze as to what is the nature of attack, how do we look at it and what are the discrepancies in the versions of the tragedy as presented in the media, etc. We also took up the articles critiquing the legislations and what lessons can be learnt from this whole episode.
In the surcharged atmosphere of South Asia such incidents do not only bring in massive tragedies but also have adverse impact on political milieu. It is [Page x]in this light that we decided to put together these thought provoking contributions for this volume. Editors are grateful to Mansi Dev for her invaluable help. We do thank all the contributors of this volume and also Rekha Natarajan of SAGE for giving valuable feedback for introduction to the book.
Mumbai has been a victim of acts of terror from last several years. To be more precise, the first major one occurred on 12 March 1993, in which 13 blasts took place across the city killing 257 people. These were the blasts which took place in the aftermath of post-Babri demolition carnage. Later, Mumbai also witnessed the acts of terror on 2 December 2002 when an explosion took place in a bus in Ghatkopar suburb of Mumbai killing two people. The backdrop to this was the massive anti-Muslim pogrom in the wake of Godhra train burning. Similar tragedy shook the city on 13 March 2003, 29 July 2003, 25 August 2003 and the last one on 11 July 2006, in the 1st class compartment of Western Railway local trains.
The one on 26 November 2008 was of a different nature. It was an operation planned meticulously by a group of jeans and T-shirt wearing terrorists numbering nearly 10. It seems that they hijacked a Gujarat-registered fishing vessel on the high seas, sailed near Sassoon docks and reached the Gateway of India in dinghies. They were carrying heavy backpacks; and divided themselves into five teams and unleashed mayhem mainly at CST, G.T. Hospital, Metro Cinema, Hotel Taj, Hotel Trident and Nariman House. The blasts took place at these places and also at Colaba market, Cama Hospital, Nehru Road (Vile Parle), NB Road (Malad) and at Free Press Road. The attack literally [Page xii]took the breath of Mumbai away for a while, ‘[…] scale audacity, flamboyance and planning of this assault takes one's breath away. As the faces of anonymous, but not hooded, assassins flashed on TV screens, one thing became quickly clear. And what a spectacular success from their perspective, the operation has been’ (Mehta, 2008). It seems that a lot of preparation had gone in to plan this attack, ‘Mumbai attackers had clearly been trained well; the conspiracy had been in the making for close to a year; 10 of the 32 who had been trained were handpicked for Mission Mumbai and the planning was as detailed as lethal’ (Baweja, 2009).
The attack left 126 people—98 civilians, 14 policemen and 14 foreigners—dead and 327 injured. The response, the combat against the terror attack was a very confused affair which is a matter of great concern. One example gives a good idea of the efficacy of the response, ‘the Commandos arrived at Taj (Hotel) but declared, in the finest traditions of Indian bureaucracy, that they would not enter the hotel unless they received a written request from the Maharashtra Government’ (Sanghavi, 2009). The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare, who was investigating Malegon blasts, was also killed in this episode of violence, along with other top police officials Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar. The Maharashtra government appointed Ram Pradhan Committee to look at the role of police in defending the city. The committee released its report on 26 May 2009. The report has not been made public so far but as per media reports the report overall exonerates police machinery from any severe shortcomings.[Page xiii]I
Terrorism is a phenomenon which has been tormenting the world from last couple of decades. At the global level, the formation of Al Qaeda triggered this phenomenon. In India it was the post-Babri-violence, bomb blasts in Mumbai, which drew attention to this phenomenon. At the world level, the World Trade Center attack on 9/11, 2001, leaving nearly 3,000 dead, was the event which drew global attention to acts of terror.
As such it is not easy to define the word terrorism. The broad contours of the definition should include killings of non-combatants, a political motive or a statement behind that and the secret planning where the actors are willing or keen to lay down their lives (Hensman, 2002). Terrorist acts can also be done by those groups who are fighting for their rights with their backs to the wall in the face of intense oppression. The latter are in the areas where ethnonational issues are to the fore. Examples of this are Ireland, Kashmir, North East India and Tamils in Jaffna (Sri Lanka). While the definition of terrorism eludes an easy formulation, the acts of terror can easily be identified.
Terrorism is a very old phenomenon. During the 20th century it came to the fore after the Second World War. With the formation of Israel and many new nation-states, one sees acts of terror beginning at different places. With the exile of 14 lakh (lakh is hundred thousand) Palestinians from their home and hearth, the world saw the emergence of this phenomenon in that region. Then similar acts were seen [Page xiv]around Irish question and Kashmir question. The identity and material concerns in North East India and Sri Lanka's Jaffna witnessed the emergence of terror groups, in different names, the major of which, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, has recently been vanquished at a very heavy price of lives of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians. Here the primary identity of terror groups has not been drawn from a religion but primarily the area, ethnicity. As such, religious identity has been used for terrorism from the last two decades of the 20th century. Khalistani movement, which began in Punjab leading to Operation Blue Star, did it partly. One recalls the trajectory of events leading to the Indira Gandhi assasination by the Khalistanis.
Later the identity of religions was fully exploited for political goals of various political players in the world. Terrorism with the ‘religious label’ has been a phenomenon taking centre stage from the decade of 1990s. Arundhati Roy (2002) in Algebra of Infinite Justice points out,
In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Service Intelligence of the Pakistan Army) launched the largest covert operation in the history of CIA. Their purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance to the Soviets, and expand it into a holy war, an Islamic Jihad, which would turn the Muslim countries within the Soviet zone of influence, against the communist regime and to eventually destabilize it. When it began, it was meant to be Soviet Union's Vietnam. It turned out to be much larger than that. Over the years, [Page xv]CIA funded and recruited 100,000 radical Mujahidin from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers for American proxy war (in Afghanistan). (Roy, 2002)
Ninan Koshy (2002) says,
[…] the war against Afghans was very much in line with the US' historical role in Afghanistan. In the 1970s, the US hired seven different parties of fundamentalists called ‘Mujahidin’. These were extremists hired by the CIA during the Cold War ‘to draw the Soviets into Afghan trap’, as later revealed by former National Security Advisor, Zbignew Brezinsky. The CIA gave arms and ammunition to these ‘Mujahidin’ […] Using these weapons and sophisticated training in the art of terror, these men successfully drove out the Soviets, but also waged terrible war on their own people killing at least 45,000 people in Kabul alone.
The Reagan regime went on for a proxy war. ‘Built on Nixon doctrine—“Asian boys must fight Asian wars”—as applied by Henry Kissinger, its effect was to redesign American war strategy. Instead of a possible confrontation with Soviet ground troops in Europe, it prepared to wage low intensity conflict against militant nationalist regimes of third world’ (Mamdani, 2005). In 1985, while introducing the visiting radical Islamists, Ronald Regan declared in the press conference, ‘These gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America's founding fathers.’ Politics was given the garb of religion and the whole world politics was vitiated due to the US machinations.
From here Al Qaeda came up. Osama bin Laden, a Saudi civil engineer, came to lead it. Mamdani [Page xvi]points out that US pumped 8,000 million dollars to train these Mujahidins and gave 7,000 tonnes of armaments, including Stringer Missiles. With this formidable support the Al Qaeda joined the forces against the Soviet Army. The Soviet army was defeated in due course. Later the same Al Qaeda turned its jihad against US and India in Kashmir. Same elements are involved in a big way currently in operation in Pakistan (beginning part of 2009), the result of which has been not only multiple acts of terror—attack on Hotel Marriot, the murder of ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto—but also the control in Swat valley and a threat to overthrow the nascent democracy in Pakistan. Most of the Pakistani leaders, the elected ones, have pointed out these facts in many of their articles and speeches.
With 9/11, the cycle turned the full circle and George W. Bush declared the War on terror. He went on to declare, ‘Americans are asking: why do they hate us? They hate our freedoms—our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other’ (George W. Bush, in his speech in US Congress in the aftermath of 9/11 ). The later history is mired with the gross abuse of international norms and violation of United Nations' political-moral authority. US went on to attack first Afghanistan and then Iraq. The ‘brave front’ put by US in a way turned to be counter productive in the long term. One of the results of the wars has been the worsening of economic scenario in US and also the world over.[Page xvii]II
With the 9/11 killing nearly 3,000 innocent people, US President George Bush went on to say that ‘either you are with them (terrorists) or with us’. US media went on to popularize the word ‘Islamic terrorism’, which was picked up by the global media. Islam came to be presented as the religion standing for violence. Muslims world over started to be perceived as terrorists, as the formulation, ‘All Muslims are not terrorists but all Terrorists are Muslims’ gained currency. On one hand, Muslims were intimidated all over and on the other, the radical Islamist groups, trained by US machinations, intensified their activities, especially in South Asia. Section of the community threatened due to this demonization started receding into the shell of religiosity, and the hold of fundamentalist mullahs over the community increased at places.
The concept of security world over got perverted and air travel became an exercise in proving one's citizenship at all the places, time and over again. The security measures getting tightened and insecurity increasing went hand in hand, as the core issue remained unanswered. One knows that the primary indoctrination of terrorists is to be ready to die for the ‘cause’. The primary causes of terrorism have remained unanswered. The War on terror is a euphemism, plain and simple. Wars are generally against a well defined enemy. Terror is a concept, totally amorphous in character, with no fixed group or organization behind it.
[Page xviii]In a way US was clear that the message behind War on terror is to attack the countries which are Muslim! Afghanistan was attacked presumably to catch hold of Osama bin Laden and destroy the terror network. Iraq was attacked on the pretext of Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD), the weapons which eluded all the searchers as they were just not there. It is for the first time in the modern history that the colonial goals, imperialist agenda of plunder was clothed in religious language, when US media deliberately used the word ‘Islamic terrorism’. At the same time US seemed to be working on the theory of ‘clash of civilizations’ propounded by Samuel Huntington, according to which the backward Islamic civilization is out to attack the West, so in turn they should be set right by various means (Huntington, 1995).
Unfortunately and mainly as the politics around identity issues started getting stronger, the conservative, orthodox and radical elements of Islam staked their claim to be real Islam. The intimidated Muslim societies at places gave in to them out of identity crisis of insecure communities. Thus the picture that all terrorists are Muslims, Islam is a religion of violence came to become the part of ‘social common sense’. The global media gleefully followed this negative lead given by the US media. In India this propagation was enhanced and assisted by the Right wing politics at home.III
The type of insanity displayed by the Al Qaeda—Taliban was both amazing and disturbing. The acts [Page xix]which they perpetuated were the limit of insanity, totally against the human values. We witnessed the global hysteria by sections of Muslims around this time. Many a global campaigns in which sections of Muslims participated out of a fanatic zeal brought great disrepute to Islam and Muslims in general.
Meanwhile, in India, particularly from 2006 various acts of terror in front of mosques, dargahs started taking place (Gatade, 2007). Already Muslim community was feeling battered due to the communal violence during the preceding decades. Sachar Committee report tells us that Muslim community has been relegated to the margins of society. Their economic status has declined during last 60 years (Sachar Committee, 2004). On top of that, the acts of terror started becoming clearly targeted at Muslim community, like the Malegaon blast, Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad, Samjhauta Express and Ajmer Sharif Dargah. The investigating agencies were clueless. Usually many Muslim youth were caught, tortured to elicit confession and in most cases released after no evidence could be established. The community's insecurity went up further (Statement of the People's Tribunal, Hyderabad).
The pattern kept repeating itself. In Nanded, in 2006, two Bajrang Dal workers died while making bombs (Gatade, http://www.Countercurrents.org/gatade011007.html). In the same city, later, a Shiv Sena Shakha member died in the godown storing biscuits, two Bajrang Dal workers died in Kanpur in 2008, and many such incidents kept going on. The tide in a way turned when the irrefutable evidence [Page xx]of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakurs' motorcycle, used in the Malegaon blast was detected. The immaculate investigation done by Mahrashtra ATS led to the detection of the involvement of other RSS affiliates (meaning all those organizations who subscribe to RSS ideology of Hindu Nation, Hindutva and whose core team is trained by the volunteers of RSS shakhas), Swami Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col. Prasad Purohit, Retired Major Upadhyay and many others including Swami Assemanand of VHP in Dangs. Sadhvi's photo was also seen with the BJP President Rajnath Singh (Appendix I). This shocking revelation brought the truth of terror attacks from a different dimension. ‘Hemant's (Karkare) team […] had arrested Hindu extremists in a breakthrough that shocked the entire nation and added a new dimension to the subject of terror and Hindutva politics in India. But the case got caught in political circus and ATS was accused of targeting the Hindu Nationalist Brigade’ (Khetan, 2009).
So far the word ‘Islamic terrorism’ was being used with gay abandon. Now the term Hindu terrorism came to be coined spontaneously. Rightly, serious objection was raised against the use of this word. As Malegaon investigation showed, more and more involvement of those close to Hindutva ideology, the word Hindu terrorism propped up, ‘The death of Hemant Karakre, the Chief of Maharashtra ATS in the battle against jehadi terrorists in Mumbai, puts the recent squabbles over the term “Hindu” terror in perspective. The alleged involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur […] with terrorist explosions in [Page xxi]Malegaon had lazy journalists using term as a kind of tabloid shorthand’ (Kesvan, 2009). The RSS affiliates started hurling abuses on the Maharashtra ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, calling him Deshdrohi (traitor) for the investigation work which he was pursuing. Saamna, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, wrote an editorial that they spit on a person like Hemant Karkare for doing the investigation (Outlook, 15 December 2008). What type of pressure it must have generated on the mind of Karkare can be easily guessed. Some of these aspects do get reflected in the chapters of this compilation. It became clear that the association of terrorism and Muslims may not hold much water and with reluctance some section of media and popular opinion started desisting from demonizing Muslims, which it has been doing so far.
The role of Maharashtra ATS and especially its Chief Karkare's forthright stand in honest investigation was coming in the way of Hindutva groups, merrily involved in acts of terror, acts which were being passed off as the one's done by Muslims.IV
In India, Pakistan has been seen as a source of terrorism and time and again there have been loud noises calling for attack on Pakistan. In the wake of 26/11 act of terror, when the link of terrorists to Pakistan was clear, there was a hue and cry to attack Pakistan. The popular yoga guru Baba Ramdeo, reflecting the opinion of a section of population, went to the extent of exhorting the government to launch an attack on Pakistan, and that if the government had financial [Page xxii]difficulties, he would fund the war! The global media was also agog with similar sentiment, ‘If you go over the coverage of the attacks in British and American newspapers you will find that all the articles focused on the imminent India-Pakistan war and, then, on the almost certain Hindu backlash that would lead to targeting of local Muslims’ (Sanghavi, 2009, p. IV). In the peace marches, the candle marches which showed the resolve of the major section of society for peace, some of the fanatic elements did enter in the marches which ultimately started shouting anti-Pakistan slogans. Indian government had a tough time but it did take a reasoned position. Indian government systematically confronted the Pakistan government but the understanding was, ‘Pakistan's civilian Government is not complicit in the Mumbai attacks, it was engineered by rouge elements in ISI and the army. War could weaken Zardari Govt… Not in India's interest’ (Sharma, 2009). One notes that after the 26/11 Mumbai attack, many and much worse attacks took place in Pakistan itself, ‘The choice of targets in Mumbai clearly owes something to the September bombing of the Islamabad Marriot, Here already there is a common ground between the two countries—for if it has been a bad year for India, then for Pakistan it has been much worse’ (Ghosh, 2009).
While it is true that many a terror groups are housed in Pakistan, all of them cannot be attributed to the Government of Pakistan which currently is a democratic set-up. Pakistan is a creation of tragic events that took place during the freedom movement. [Page xxiii]Apart from other things, British policy of divide and rule has been a major factor in creation of Pakistan. The Pakistan, formed in the name of Islam, rapidly came to be dominated by fundamentalist elements, and their military and mullahs had pre-eminent position. Starting from Field Marshal Ayub Khan to the Musharraf regime, the military—mullah complex has been in the forefront of affairs most of the time. The interlude of rules of Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and now Asif Ali Zardari regime are the exceptions to the overall political trend in Pakistan. And lately it seems that democracy may be there to stay in Pakistan.
With the Al Qaeda training camps persisting on the soil of Pakistan, the tragedy for Pakistan society was immense. The heartening thing has been the effort of democratic elements to come back and to strive to strengthen the nascent democratic roots there. The democratic government and civic society are strongly fighting against the menace of terrorism. The people of Pakistan are fed up of the acts of terror; they despise the dominance of mullahs and dread the army coming back to power. So within Pakistan there are different players. The compulsions of Pakistan Government and civil society need to be perceived empathetically. They themselves are the big victims of terrorist acts.
This is a challenging task. Bilateral talks, mutual cooperation in weeding out terrorist groups, in undermining the military—mullah dominance are what is needed. Now South Asians need to come together to deal with the problem of terrorism. An attack on [Page xxiv]Pakistan will only strengthen the retrograde elements in Pakistan, the military in particular. There must be an open transparent policy towards Pakistan and by mutual cooperation with the civic society and the elected government we should try to overcome the problems which are afflicting South Asia.V
As this compilation is an attempt to analyze the phenomenon, the focus in selection has been for articles that are more analytic than descriptive. Hidden in every event are the deeper issues related to the phenomenon. The contributors in the volume have tried to analyze the event from various angles, terrorism, law, Indo-Pak relations, the causes of terrorism in India, role of state, pattern of investigations so far, the prevalent laws, the response of civic society, the role of media, the unsolved puzzles and need for a deeper inquiry into the event. Most of the chapters have been written in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and bear the imprint of pain and anguish caused by the event with mammoth tragedies hidden in the same.
Anand Patwardhan in his ‘Terror: The Aftermath’ questions the need for new, tough anti-terror laws, which was the cry of a section. This chapter laments the gradual shift of India's foreign policy from one of non-alignment to the one which is trying to be subservient to US and is tilting towards Israel. The safety of the country just cannot come by increasing the security. Also the double standards which have been [Page xxv]pursued by India in the matters relating to justice to minorities after communal violence is sowing the seeds of dissatisfaction which may be the starting point for some turning to this insane path of terror. He points out that since Hemant Karkare was criticized heavily by the leaders of RSS combine, he might have been under pressure to prove himself leading to his throwing the caution to wind and becoming the victim of violence.
Guantanamo Bay had become synonymous with inhuman torture, with throwing the human rights and any human consideration to the wind to extract confessions in the wake of 9/11. This was also synonymous with how a state, and that too claiming to be the biggest democracy in the world, can fall to abysmal levels. Mercifully Barack Hussein Obama's initial orders were to close down this blot on the face of democratic governments. This is what has been disturbing Biju Mathew in his ‘As the Fires Die: The Terror of the Aftermath’. Mathew points out that in the massive Guantanamo Bay there has not been even a single breakthrough. An example as to how states also can get insane if they pursue the policy out of anger rather than out of reason. The post 9/11 polices of US had been a disaster, the Patriot Act, the invasion on Afghanistan and Iraq. These polices have not only increased the grip of fundamentalist forces all over, they might have contributed to the economic downfall of the mighty empire.
Gnani Sankaran, in his ‘Hotel Taj: Icon of Whose India?’ takes up the issue of media projection that Taj is the icon of Mumbai/India. During this attack [Page xxvi]Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, popularly known as V.T., J.J. Hospital, Cama Hospital and Taj and Trident were the sites where many people died. Taj and Trident were presented as icons of Mumbai. These are the upmarket hotels, frequented by the five star people, celebrities and business tycoons. When previously the attacks took place on the trains and buses, the media projection was on resilience of the people in facing the terror acts. Now when the top brass is also involved the slogan was not resilience but ‘enough is enough’. Should these places be called icons of Mumbai? Sankaran argues that they are not, as they do not represent average Mumbaikar.
How US committed the big blunder after 9/11 attack is brought out forcefully by P. Sainath in ‘Why the United States Got it Wrong?’ In the wake of the killing of 180 people in the terror attack the argument was that like US, India should attack Pakistan. See how due to US action in the wake of 9/11 in 2001, no further terror attacks took place in US. Sainath argues that the biggest beneficiary of US action has been Al Qaeda while Pakistan has been the biggest victim of US policies. The invasion on Iraq by US cost it 3 trillion dollars and the consequent impact on its economy. He also takes on media for preparing ground for US invasion through ‘embedded stories’ which created a popular sanction for the dastardly US action on the people of Iraq. In Iraq the mortality rate of 5.5 per thousand has jumped up to 13.3 per thousand after the invasion by US. Also from the invading US army over a hundred thousand cases of mental illness have been reported. So much for the bravado of US action! [Page xxvii]One has to thank the people of India for ensuring that the Indian government did not and will not undertake such insane step.
‘Death of a Salesman’ by Tarun Tejpal takes up the rot which has set in the society. While we blame politician, we at the same time overlook the deeper rot which is becoming rooted in the society. Our tolerance for injustice, discrimination against weaker section of society, violence against minorities is creating a situation where we are failing as a system. We should look deeper and see that injustice breeds injustice and creates a situation where there is an all-round apathy. Mere blaming the politicians will not do, what is needed is a political overhaul of the system, and in this all will have to plunge, in case we want to make a success of it.
Praful Bidwai, in ‘Counter-Terrorism Must not Kill Democracy’, warns that the measures to counter terrorism should not kill democracy. According to him the fact that Antulay had asked a question, his question should not have been undermined. But unfortunately Antulay himself staged a climb down. UPA bringing in new laws is more of a caving in to the pressure of right wing than a necessity. The new laws are giving more power to the investigating agencies, at the cost of rights of the accused, and will not serve any purpose. Also The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), the dreaded act, has been misused against the minorities. In another of his contribution to this volume, Bidwai argues that war is not the way and what is needed is diplomacy and restraint. This was in response to the immense hysterical atmosphere created [Page xxviii]by all-round, part of which was calling for war of different types, response to the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
Yoginder Sikand in his piece focuses more on the issues related to Islam, Lashkar-e-Taiba and armed jihad. He clarifies that Islam does not permit killing of the innocents on any grounds and that these aberrant groups like Lashkar are the offshoot of the same CIA—ISI—Madrassa trained fanatics, created for the political goals of the Empire. One point which has been missed out or rather not analyzed seriously is the report that the huge quantities of food was ordered from Nariman House ahead of the attack. And the very choosing of Nariman point, the possible role of Mossad in destabilizing the area should be kept in mind, while coming to conclusions about the issue.
Taking the issue of questions raised by Antulay, Ram Puniyani points out that the 1992—93 riots were followed by Mumbai blasts. The Maharashtra ATS Chief Karkare was called Deshdrohi, traitor, by RSS associates. He had also received death threat from anonymous sources. Antulay had made a simple point that the death of Karakre should be investigated, as he doubted that he might have been killed by terrorism plus something. It was good that the Maharashtra government has decided to probe this death, while Antulay who raised the question was called Pakistan supporter. At the same time, Shiv Sena went out of the way to provide legal aid for Malegaon blast-accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. As such, in a democratic society, the matters should be transparent and raising queries should not be met with severe allegations from those in power or those right wingers [Page xxix]who have been hurling abuses at the human rights activists raising questions and doubts about the state version of thing.
Raveena Hansa, in two of her chapters, pieces together all the versions of the incident presented by the media, and demonstrates the gaping holes in the different versions of the incident. Putting together all the news items which came out she shows that there may be something more serious behind the attack, than meets the eye. How can one version say that Karkare died near Metro, and another that he died in lane behind Cama Hospital? How can the terrorist speak fluent Marathi? Why was Kasab wearing the orange wrist band on his hand? Even the dossier submitted by the Indian government to Pakistan is not consistent in the narration of events. The point is why such an episode of severe order not be subjected to an honest probe? Who is against such a probe? She argues that even earlier many spectacular incidents were taken on the face value and those doubting them were labelled as one's believing in conspiracy theory. In case of John Kennedy's murder also doubts persist about the correctness of the state version of the tragedy. Similarly in the case of 9/11 attack on WTC, there is enough evidence to doubt the official version. In such cases the best option is to properly investigate the event, ignoring those making loud noises in the name of patriotism. Raveena Hansa is not alone in raising these uncomfortable questions; the point is, can the civic society and the state wake [Page xxx]up and set the matters straight rather than abuse those raising these questions.
K.G. Balakrishnan, in ‘Terrorism, Rule of Law and Human Rights’, laments that there are no clear norms for international cooperation in cases where more than one country is involved. To accept the confessions before the police authorities goes against the norms of personal liberty. He does concede that the government need not necessarily be part of the conspiracy originating on its soil. There is a need to increase the acts of surveillance against acts of terror and also the need to introduce thorough professionalism in matters related to investigation of acts of terrorism.
Sukla Sen's ‘Acts of Terror and Terrorizing Act’ takes up the demand by some for introduction of draconian acts for prevention of terror acts. He points out that coercive interrogation generally leads to false confessions, which in turn may hide the truth from coming out. There is a failure of intelligence gathering due to the unfriendly image of the police, because of which there is a severance of police—people contact.
In ‘Our Politicians are Still not Listening’, Colin Gonsalves takes on the issue of criticizing the human rights activists rather than taking up proposals to combat terrorism. The new laws giving more detention time will not serve the purpose and are totally against the international legal norms. What is needed is to upgrade the CBI and bring in more professionalism to curb the acts of terror. Prashant [Page xxxi]Bhushan, in ‘Terrorism: Are Stronger Laws the Answer’, is very critical of the present demands for more stringent laws. His contention is that no law can deter suicidal terrorists. POTA has been really an instrument to harass the minorities. People's tribunal on POTA pointed out that it is a law to terrorize ordinary citizens. Similarly the tribunal on terrorism also concluded that many an innocent Muslim youths have been targeted in the aftermath of acts of terror. He points out that there is an urgent need to implement the much overdue police reforms.
Piecing together different issues, Gautam Navlakha takes up the lapses in response to the terrorist attack. He questions the need for new laws in dealing with the acts of terror. He does point out that a look at deeper issues leading to acts of terror need to be kept in mind. There is great amount of ‘Pakistan’ and ‘minority’ obsession in investigating these cases. How the investigation into the acts of terror are coloured by religion is very clear as in most of the cases like Samjhauta Express blast, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif where the investigation was directed, misguided by religious identity till Sadhvi's motorcycle was found at the Malegaon blast case and the truth of most of the blasts started coming out. The total hostility to Pakistan in such matters is also misplaced as there are non-state actors. There is also a need to look at internal factors which have gone in to promote terrorism in the region.[Page xxxii]VI
The current phenomenon of terrorism is multi-layered. The global politics for controlling oil wells, the unsolved ethno-national issues, the rise of communal violence and discrimination of minorities are all contributing to the process. So a simple solution of all this cannot be conceptualized. We need an honest investigation to come to conclusions about, ‘who's done it’. What is needed is countering the popular notions of association of terrorism with a particular religion and religious community. Primary cause of this perception has been the formation of Madrassas in Pakistan, the formation of Al Qaeda to begin with.
Investigating acts of terror has been a very demanding challenge. This is the observation in many a postblast cases, Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad, in particular. In this case many a Muslim youth were caught for the act. The same were released after six months when no evidence could be found. Same was the case in Jaipur blasts in which again many a Muslim youths were caught hold of. Such biased understanding did two damages. On one hand, it resulted in many innocent Muslim youths being caught and tortured. ‘The people's Tribunal on Atrocities Committed against the minority in the name of fighting terrorism’ under the leadership of Justice Sardar Ali Khan and Justice Bhargava (http://www.anhad.net/articles44.html) pointed out in its interim observations that ‘the testimonies showed that a large number of young Muslims have been victimized by police on charge of being involved in various terrorist acts across the country’.
[Page xxxiii]On the other hand, what will be the long-term social and psychological impact of such an attitude on the community as a whole and on the youth who have been subjected to humiliation and torture for no fault of theirs. Its repercussions cannot be undermined. When a wrong person is being implicated, at the same time the real culprit is getting away with his crime. This must be emboldening for that group to carry on with their dastardly crimes all over again after a period of time.
The chapters in this compilation make it abundantly clear that post 26/11 some things are being ignored and undermined. Let us for a moment think could there have been a possibility of thinking that those associated with RSS ideology can also be involved in such acts till Maharashtra ATS dug out the irrefutable evidence against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col. Upadhaya and other associates of theirs? Even the Nanded blasts and other blasts where Bajrang Dal workers died while making bombs did not alert the investigating authorities to recognize that there can be other factors responsible than just Muslim youth. It also shows the severe communalization of social space. In such a scenario those raising queries and doubts should not be brushed aside or intimidated or labelled. The best answer to such queries is an impartial and professionally conducted investigation.
If we do say let truth prevail, then why so much anger and labelling against those demanding for truth to come out? Who benefits by hiding truth, and who is afraid of truth, is the question this compilation raises.[Page xxxiv]References2009. 26/11 Mumbai Attacked, p. xi. New Delhi: Roli Books..2007. ‘Saffron Terror’, Himal Magazine, 20(10/11), October—November: 47–51. Available online at http://www.Counter-currents.org/gatade011007.html, accessed on 28 June 2008..2009. ‘Defeat or Victory isn't Determined by Success of Strike Itself, but by Response’, in VirSanghavi (ed.), The Attack on Mumbai, pp. 82–84. New Delhi: Penguin..2002. Terrorism, Imperialism and War, p. 29. Mumbai: Build..1995. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster..2009. ‘ATS Chief was Doing his Job—Both in Malegaon and Mumbai’, in The Attack on Mumbai, p. 71. Penguin..2009. ‘Bravehearts’, in 26/11 Mubai Attacked. Roli..2002. War on Terror. Delhi: Left Word..2005. Good Muslim Bad Muslim. Delhi: Permanent Black..2008. ‘Ah Bombay’, Outlook, 8 December..Outlook. 2008. ‘Heroes and Villains’, Outlook, 15 December: 6.People's Tribunal, Hyderabad, Anhad. http://www.anhad.net/articles44.html2002. Algebra of Infinte Justice. p. 127. Delhi: Penguin..Sachar Committee. 2004. ‘Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India’, November. Prime Ministers High Level Committee, Government of India.2009. 26/11: The Attack on Mumbai, p. viii. New Delhi: Penguin..2009. ‘Soft Stricken’, Outlook, 15 December: 30..
Six months down the line, the aftermath of Mumbai attack, what is most visible left over is in form of the trial of Ajmal Kasab, the sole terrorist who was caught alive by the brave policeman. The immediate reaction of the society has given way to a more reasoned form, the cry of attacking Pakistan; the anti-Pakistan sentiments have been muted.
Mumbai attack was a one of the most painful chapters of the city's life. After that episode, over a period of time, we note that the guns and bombs of terrorists are targeting Pakistan in a very serious way. A series of bomb blasts have shaken the Pakistan society. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari went to the extent of saying that Pakistan is the bigger victim of terror attacks than India. Partly he is right, as beginning from the assasination of Benazir Bhutto there had been regular terror attacks there. The thought process and common perception that Pakistan is the enemy country and is promoting terrorism in India has slightly got a different twist by now. Now it is obvious that within Pakistan itself there are diverse forces, which are working at cross purposes. The military—mullah complex though dislodged from power is not totally sidelined. Even the dreaded ISI has been targeted by a bomb blast (27 May 2009). The democratic Government of Pakistan has a different [Page 139]approach to the acts of terror which seems to be very clear by now. Also one knows the limitations of a democratically elected government. These limitations are due to the persistence of the influence of a powerful dominating army and conservative religious elements.
As neighbours grow together, as they have to live together, they also get affected by each others' problems. The only difference is that generally democratic governments are more trustworthy than the dictatorial regimes. The dictatorial regimes are the ones who rule with a heavy hand and have no answerability to the people. In India with the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and the whole lot of those involved in various bomb blasts, the cycle of terror seems to have been checked in a big way, society has got a reprieve, breathing time. It is also the time that the society, state and the government can mull over the issue and take the preventive steps rationally and firmly. With the Al Qaeda being engaged more seriously in Pakistan, its focus and nuisance value in India should go down over a period of time. The process of strengthening of democracy in Pakistan is the positive development in this region. It will not only benefit the people of Pakistan, but it also has the potential to change the political language of South Asia.
With the events which have taken place in last few months, a process of reformulation about terrorism is going in the social psyche. Various truths about the nasty phenomenon of terrorism can be understood more clearly now. That it is not related to religion or religious communities has been repeated ad nauseum, but the unfolding of current events has demonstrated the same [Page 140]in very clear terms. The tragic events of Pakistan and the halt, hopefully permanent or semi-permanent, of the terror attacks in India, give us message to look beyond the obvious to decipher the phenomenon to unravel the truth. Far too long the perceptions have shaped which relate this phenomenon to a particular religious community, teachings of a particular religion to the dreaded act. Events have demonstrated in the contemporary history that LTTE, the Sadhvi gang and Al Qaeda, all have done their nasty bit to aggravate the sufferings of society.
The regime change in the US should also have a peaceful impact in the region. Barrack Hussein Obama seems to have put brakes on the aggressive postures of US foreign policy. The biggest contribution of the new administration has been to convince Pakistan that it should not regard India as ‘enemy number one’. The result has been the pressure of Pakistan army on Indian border has come down. Large battalions of Pakistan are being shifted from the Indian border to deal with the menace of Taliban. It should have a positive impact on India—Pakistan relations leading to intensification of peace processes within these countries.
The realization that terrorism itself is a multi-factorial phenomenon will help a lot in the overall combating of the issue. One should hope that Pakistani army takes up the resolve to eliminate Al Qaeda a bit more seriously and one hopes that it succeeds in its mission. That will be a turning point in this area; it will bring a serious halt to what has been referred as cross-border terrorism.
[Page 141]One of the crucial points to be noted in this context is the fatwa by Darool Uloom Deoband, the largest Islamic seminary in India. This seminary called a huge meeting of maulanas and issued a fatwa, stating that in acts of terrorism, innocent people get killed. Killing of innocent people is against the teachings of Islam and so terrorism has no sanction in Islam.
It is apparent that the better coordination of government agencies, the control of Al Qaeda—Taliban by Pakistan army will definitely create an atmosphere where terrorism would come under control and the massive tragedies resulting from that would come to an end.
Appendix I: Acts of Terrorism by RSS Combine[Page 142]
While currently the total focus of investigating agencies is to identify acts of terror with Muslim groups and Muslim youth, a very serious omission is taking place. This is due to the conceptual inadequacy of the state machinery or due to motives which are beyond the comprehension of large sections of communities and the activists engaged in issues related to violation of rights of minorities.
- On 6 April 2006 two Bajrang Dal workers died when making the bombs. The place where they died belonged to the RSS worker and saffron flag was hoisted atop the hose. There was also a board of Bajrang Dal Nanded Branch on the wall of the house.
Police recovered the materials for making IED devices, a diary and fake beard, moustache and Pajama Kurta. The Anti Terrorist Squad established that the place was used for making bombs. The house search revealed the powerful bomb, IED with timer and remote control, after which the Inspector General of police conceded that it was a bomb blast and that those involved in the blast are the members of Bajrang Dal. Local papers reported that a diary has the details of bomb-making techniques and other relevant information.
On 11 April, Special IG Police Mr Surya Prakash Gupta declared that it was not an isolated event; [Page 143]rather a bomb-manufacturing centre (Bomb Nirmiti Kendra) was functional at the house of Rajkondwar. He said this centre was working since many days. He said one of the injured, Rahul Pande, had categorically confessed to have made many such bombs earlier.
Incidents of bomb blasts were witnessed in many places around that time, Parbhani, Jalna and Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Most of these were in front of the mosques. The Nanded investigation ‘leads’ were not pursued. The attitude of police in this investigation has been totally lax. Social activists made the complaint about this to Human Rights Commission.
Beyond the geographical similarities, the details of the attacks which took place in the nearby areas were uncanny: each took place between 1:45 and 2:00 in the afternoon, just after Friday prayers, at the most prominent mosque in town. The bomb that went off in Nanded in 2006 on 6 April, a Thursday, was apparently meant to be set off at an Aurangabad masjid the following day.
In same Nanded, on 10 February 2007, 28-year-old Pandurang Bhagwan Amilkanthwar died on the spot. ‘Amol Biscuits’, a bakery shop, was run by the deceased, at Shastrinagar, Nanded. Shop was closed from outside. He was a Shiv Sena Shakha pramukh.
- In Thane on 4 June 2008, two Hindu Jagran Samiti workers were arrested for planting the bombs in the basement of Gadkari Rangayatan, due to which seven people got injured. The same group was involved in the blasts in Vashi, Panvel also. This group idolizes Savarkar (Hindu Mahasabha) and Hedgewar (RSS) and indoctrinates its members into hating Christians and Muslims.[Page 144]
- On 24 August 2008 two Bajrang Dal activists died in Kanpur while making bombs. The Kanpur zone IGP S.N. Singh stated that their investigations have revealed that this group was planning massive explosions all over the state.
- Indian Express, 23 October 2008 reports that those involved in the bomb blast in Malegaon and Modasa (September 2008) had links with Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
- In Goa, on 17 October 2009 in Margao a bomb went off killing two workers of Sanatana Sanstha.
Similarly in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu pipe bomb attack on RSS office (January 2008) was projected to have been done by jihadi Muslims. The investigation revealed many a Hindu names and later the investigation was frozen. In an alleged Fidayin attack on RSS office in Nagpur (1 June 2006), it was claimed that three of them were killed in the police encounter, as per the police version. Citizens Inquiry report, headed by Justice Kolse Patil doubted the police version in a serious way; the clarifications did not come through from the authorities.
By now a pattern is emerging where not only that Bajrang Dal activists are carrying guns and swords in the public display of the arms but are also active in undertaking the acts of terror. It is likely that in many cases their role has remained uninvestigated. There is a deliberate cover up of these incidents. Some of these leads are not being pursued while the police are hyperactive in cases where suspected Muslims youth seem to be involved, and that too just on the basis of their confessions. This is a biased attitude of the authorities involved.
Appendix II: Unraveling Truth: People's Tribunal on Atrocities Committed in the Name of Combating Terrorism[Page 145]
Acts of terror have been a major menace for the society during last few years. Starting from the post-Mumbai riot bomb blasts till the latest ones in Ahmedabad, these have been terrifying the society in a dangerous way. Following the 9/11 in 2001 and propagation of the word ‘Islamic terrorism’ by US media, ‘all terrorists are Muslims’ has become a part of social common sense.
The major victims of these acts of terror are not only those who get killed or wounded in the blasts etc. But also those innocents who are caught hold of on the suspicions which have generally not been validated so far by further investigation. The life of blasts victims ruins them totally and the lives of those innocents caught by reckless attitude of police and condoned by judiciary are shattered beyond repair. This is what emerged from the interim observations of the Jury of People's Tribunal on the Atrocities Committed against Minorities in the name of fighting terrorism, organized by ANHAD, Human Rights Law Network and Peace (Hyderabad, 22–24 August 2008).
The jury included eminent judges, legal luminary, senior journalists, academics and social workers, Justice S.N. Bhargava (retired Chief Justice, Sikkim High Court), [Page 146]Justice Sardar Ali Khan, retired High CourtJudge, Asghar Ali Engineer; Islamic scholar, K.G. Kannabiran (National President, PUCL), Prashant Bhushan, Advocate Supreme Court, Ram Puniyani (former professor IIT, Mumbai), Professor Rooprekha Verma (retired Vice Chancellor, Lucknow University), Kingsukh Nag, Editor Times of India and Lalit Surjan, Editor Deshbandhu, Raipur. In addition rights activist Kavita Shrivastava recounted her experiences of police attitude in the wake of Jaipur blasts, Suresh Khairnar narrated the findings of his committee for investigation of Nanded blasts and alleged attack on RSS head office in Nagpur and Tehelka journalist Ajit Sahi narrated the myths and facts about SIMI. It emerged that a lot of allegations about this organization are totally unsubstantiated.
There were scores of depositions, recounting pain and tragedy. The legal luminaries cross examined them to ensure that truth comes out. There were lot of similarities in the pattern of testimonies despite diverse type of cases and regions. The stories of innocence of most of the accused were transparent. The attitude of police and judiciary appeared to be uniformly biased. The ruining of lives of many of the victims and their families was heart rending and audience and the jury were moved in most cases.
The police bias are glaringly obvious, the line of investigation is neither professional nor objective. One notes that observations where the definitive evidence is definitive have been totally bypassed while strategizing investigations. In Nanded two Bajrang Dal workers died while making bombs (April 2006); in Kanpur (August 2008) also similarly two of them died and in Thane the members of Hindu Jagran Samiti were involved without any shadow of doubt. Why have these leads been suppressed by authorities is the question the political leadership should answer.
[Page 147]Some of the testimonies are very revealing. Yakub Khan from Coimbatore was arrested in the wake of 1998 blasts, accused of being a member of a terrorist outfit about which he had never heard and was tortured. Ten years down the line no charges were proved and he was released with 10 precious years of his life lost and his career as a student of professional college totally ruined. His friend Shiv Kumar, converted to Islam as Abdul Hamid, was arrested in the same way and in addition was told that he would not have been arrested had he not converted to Islam.
Shabbir Masiulllah Ansari was actually in police custody when the Malegaon blasts took place, but he languishes in jail for those charges. Maulana Muhammad Zahid has been implicated in the Malegaon blast, when actually he was 500 kilometres away in Phulsavangi, a place where he conducts namaz in the mosque. Many a bread winners of the families have been implicated worsening the economic plight of those families.
Most of the testimonies, well supported by various documents, were submitted to the tribunal. While the final report is being worked out, it became apparent that most of the time police is clueless about the culprits, is gripped by the biases. They catch hold of Muslim youth on suspicions which do not have much basis. This is happening at various places but more so in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. The communalization of police apparatus and their highhanded methods have no legality; the protectors of the law seem to be the biggest violators of law, as the tribunal in its interim observations points out, ‘In most of the cases, the persons picked up are not shown to be arrested by the police until many days after their arrest in gross violation of the law. Their families are also not informed about their arrest. In many cases, they have been tortured in police [Page 148]custody and made to “confess” and sign blank papers. The police has been often humiliating Muslim detainees on the ground of their religion. The testimonies show widespread communalization of the police across states in the country.’
The communal bias of police gets a full backing from the judiciary as they grant the remand even without any concrete evidence against the suspect. One also observes that the major ‘evidence’, the ‘cracking’ of cases, is based on the confessions, which are extracted in the police custody, under all unspeakable tortures, electric shocks and pouring of acid on private parts. It must be giving the police officials a sadistic pleasure apart from helping them to frame the alleged culprits and pat their backs for solving the cases. A section of media does the rest of the job, sensationalizing the episodes, no critical examination of the version of the police! Media, which is supposed to be the watch dog, at most of the times, supplements the role of state in ‘manufacturing’ the evidence against the hapless innocent alleged culprits.
One of the major concerns shown by the tribunal is that not only this traumatizes and brutalizes a section of community; it may be letting the real culprits get away with their game. So far despite so many blasts, the only times where the definitive evidence has been found are the ones related to Nanded, Kanpur (Bajrang Dal) and Thane—Vashi (Hindu Jagran Samiti). SIMI has emerged as the favourite culprit for police, surely it is not above suspicion, but still the definitive evidence is nowhere in sight.
The tribunal has made many interim recommendations; the hope is that the civic society and sensitive media's pressure will make the authorities listen to the voice of reason and pain of the victims of ‘investigation mismanagement’. The Human Rights and Minorities [Page 149]commissions must take up these violations by the police, suo motu, should act as a check on the excesses of police. The judiciary must ensure that there are genuine grounds for police custody, and that human rights of suspects are respected. There should be special trial courts for such cases, with medical person available to check the torture inflicted on the victims; those implicated wrongly must be compensated and when necessary the guilty police officers should be made to pay the compensation. Media should restrain from publicizing mere allegations, narco analysis should not be abused, explicit permission of alleged culprits, for the same should be a must, and police reforms must be implemented to ensure that police respect the dignity of those arrested.
The work of the tribunal is significant and a timely intervention in the political scenario but its relevance will depend on many political and social factors. The deeper need for a movement to uphold the methods of law, protection of human rights of weak is a must today.
Select Bibliography[Page 150]References2004a. On Communalism & Globalization: Offensives of the Far Right (Three Essays Press). New Delhi..2004b. Iraq, Afghanistan & the Imperialism of Our Time. Delhi: Left Word Books..2002. The Clash of Fundamentalism: Crusades, Jihads & Modernity. Delhi: Rupa & Co..2000. Islam: A Short History. London: Phoenix Press..2004. Iraq-2003: The Return of Imperialism. Delhi: Aakar Books..2002. War on Terror: Reordering the World. Delhi: Left Word Books..2001. Afghanistan & the Taliban: The Rebirth of Fundamentalism?Delhi: Penguin Books India..2003. Good Muslim Bad Muslim. Hyderabad: Orient Longman..2002. War against the Planet: The Fifth Afghan War, Imperialism, & Other Assorted Fundamentalisms. Delhi: Left Word Books..2002. Terrorism Imperialism & War. Mumbai: BUILD..2006. Terrorism, Facts Versus Myth. Delhi: Pharos Media..2000. The End of the Peace Process: Oslo & After. New York: Vintage Books.Further Readings1. ‘Congressman: US Set Up Anti-Taliban to be Slaughtered’. This is an account of how the US covertly supported the Taliban. This is available at http://emperors-clothes.com/misc/rohr.htm[Page 151]2. ‘Washington's Backing of Afghan Terrorists: Deliberate Policy’. Article from Washington Post with introductory note from ‘Emperor's Clothes’. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/docs/anatomy.htm3. ‘Taliban Camps US bombed in Afghanistan Were Built by NATO’. Documentation from the New York Times. Combined US and Saudi aid to Afghan-based terrorism totaled $6 billion or more. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/docs/camps.htm4. ‘CIA Worked with Pakistan to Create Taliban’. From Times of India. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/docs/pak.htm5. ‘Osama bin Laden: Made in USA’. Excerpt from article on US bombing of a pill factory in Sudan in August 1998. Argues that bin Laden was, and still may be, a CIA asset. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/madein.htm6. Excerpts from News Reports: ‘Bin Laden in the Balkans’ Evidence that bin Laden aided or is aiding the U.S.-sponsored forces in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. Can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/news/binl.htm
About the Editors and Contributors[Page 152]The Editors
Ram Puniyani was a Professor at IIT Mumbai from 1984 to 2004. He was associated with the work of national integration and communal harmony from 1993. Part of the campaigns were associated with secular initiatives. He has contributed regular articles/essays on the topic, and has conducted workshops on the theme of national integration. He has been awarded Indira Gandhi National Integration Award (2006), and National Communal Harmony Award (2007). He has written books like Communalism Facts versus Myths (2003), Religion Power and Violence (2005), Contours of Hindu Rashtra (2006), Terrorism Facts versus Myths (2006), Second Assasination of Gandhi (2004).
Shabnam Hashmi is a social activist, a rebel, a fearless fighter and a human rights defender. She has been working as a social activist, and in 2003 formed Anhad. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the 1000 women from across the world in 2005. She was awarded the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA) Star Award for Communal Harmony in 2005, Smriti Samman in 2005 and the National Minority Rights Award 2008 by the National Minority Commission. She is a member of the National Integration Council, Ministry of [Page 153]Home Affairs, Government of India, a Council Member of the National Literary Mission, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India.The Contributors
K.G. Balakrishnan is the 37th Chief Justice of India. He is the only dalit to become the Chief Justice of India till date.
Prashant Bhushan is a public interest lawyer in the Supreme Court.
Praful Bidwai is an Indian journalist, political analyst and activist.
Colin Gonsalves is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Network and a pioneer in public interest law in India.
Raveena Hansa is an independent journalist and columnist.
Biju Mathew is an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at Raider University.
Gautam Navlakha is an editorial consultant with EPW and member of one of India's oldest non-funded civil liberties group based in Delhi, namely People's Union for Democratic Rights.
Anand Patwardhan is an Indian documentary filmmaker, known for his activism through social action documentaries on topics ranging from corruption, slum dwellers, nuclear arms race and citizen activism to communalism.
[Page 154]P. Sainath, the 2007 winner of the Ramon Magsaysay award for journalism, literature, and creative communication arts, is an Indian development journalist. He is the Rural Affairs editor of The Hindu.
Gnani Sankaran is a popular writer in the Tamil language. He has also written articles under the pseudonyms Vamban, Cynic and Nandan and is known for frank and uncompromising views on politics and culture, which he has expressed in the media for 30 years.
Sukla Sen is a well-known social activist attached to EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai.
Yoginder Sikand is the author of several books on Islam-related issues in India. He is the editor and primary writer of Qalandar, a monthly electronic publication covering relations between Muslims and followers of other religions.
Tarun Tejpal has been an editor with the India Today and the Indian Express groups, and the managing editor of Outlook. He is the founder of Tehelka—which has garnered international fame for its aggressive public interest journalism. In 2001, Asia Week listed Tejpal as one of Asia's 50 most powerful communicators, and Business Week declared him among 50 leaders at the forefront of change in Asia. Tarun's debut novel, The Alchemy of Desire, was hailed by the Sunday Times as ‘an impressive and memorable debut’, and by Le Figaro as a ‘masterpiece’. In 2007 The Guardian, UK, named Tarun Tejpal among the 20 who constitute India's newslite.