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Ishrat Jahan: Murder in Cold Blood
09/20/2009
By Ram Puniyani

In the aftermath of Gujarat carnage the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee subtly reprimanded Modi Governemtn that Raj Dharma should have been followed. The implication was that state should have actively intervened to protect the innocents who were killed during the violence. What will one say if the same state selectively picks up innocent citizens, kills them and presents false stories to save its skin? While taking the oath, while joining the state one is supposed to treat all citizens as equal irrespective of their religion caste and gender. What do we say about the state, which goes on to kill its innocent citizens who happen to belong to minority community?

As the Citizenís Tribunal pointed out in the aftermath of Godhra train burning Gujarat State machinery was told to sit back when the rioters were unleashed to kill and maim, to loot and to rape during the carnage. Now we know that in the same state, police officers have become emboldened enough to pick up minority elements, kill them in cold blood and proclaim that it is an encounter! The repeated cry of terrorists planning to kill Modi has been a favorite ploy of the police officers for killing innocents to please the CM, to seek promotions. It also helps to create a larger than life picture of Modi.

When Ishrat Jahan was killed in the June 2005, along with three others, the police officers boasted of their success that they have ably averted the attack on Modi by killing four terrorists of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. Forensic and post mortem reports confirm that they were killed in cold blood on 14th June, shot at close range in a police custody and then, taken in a car, then put in a row on the road on the outskirts of Ahmadabad. To show that it was encounter, arms-ammunition was kept on their body. At this point of time National Human Rights Commission asked for magisterial inquiry. Later state Government also confirmed of magisterial inquiry going on. At the same time the police investigation was also started.

Justice Tamang has come out with his report that it was not an encounter and that the four killed in cold blood by police were not having any terrorist links. In response the Gujarat government is leaving no stone unturned to say that Justice Tamang had no business to release his report, the Gujarat high court has brought a stay on the report. But already the contents of the report are known through the media reports and Gujarat Government is finding no place to hide its face, also Supreme Court has seen nothing wrong in what Justice Tamang did. The total lack of remorse on the part of Gujarat Government is not surprising at all!

The officer, D. G.Vanjara, who killed these four, was also the one who had brutally killed Soharabbudin and his wife Kauserbi, and is now behind the bars. There is a section of Gujarat people, who are very appreciative of what Vnajara has done, and the situation which Modi Government has brought in. Now the Gujarat Government asks that when the police inquiry was going on, what is the legality of magisterial inquiry? On the contrary as per the law after the death of a person in police custody, or due to police action of this type, inquest, magisterial inquiry and police inquiry all these have to be done.

It is not that it is the first time that encounter, fake encounter killings, are taking place. The difference here is the total identification and defense of such acts by the political leadership of state. The difference is that a section of people are being made to believe such dastardly acts are needed to make the society safe. The effort of Gujarat Government is just to show a brave face in the light of exposure of its brutality in killing the innocents. Incidentally Ishrat was wearing her college, Khalsa College Mumbai, Identity Card around her neck when she was killed in cold blood. Legal nuances and nitty gritty apart where are we heading in twenty in Twenty-first Century?

Just slightly an year ago in the face of police arrest of many Muslim youth in the aftermath of bomb blasts citizens tribunals were held in Hyderabad and then in Jaipur. Legal luminaries and social activists formed the jury of these tribunals. Both tribunals pointed out that the attitude of police is very biased and many a Muslim youth are being arrested without any proof whatsoever. Will such actions by state, will such a defense of killing of innocents, not intensify the sense of injustice amongst a section of Indian citizens? 

Where are we heading to? On one hand there are inquiry commission reports showing as to how communal organizations orchestrate crimes and the section of police and part of state administration colludes. On the other plane there is the phenomenon of terrorism, which has many factors contributing to it but it is only Muslims who are blamed for that. We are also witnessing a serious and by now inbuilt discrimination leading to exclusion of minorities from the social facilities. In such an atmosphere what will happen to the psyche of the youth and others from minority community? The social disparities we are creating due to such policies are there for all of us to see. The tragedy is that a section of people have started asserting the correctness of these happenings. The situation which is being created due to all this is further used to blame minorities for it. The Modi-Vanjara duo, which is becoming a law unto them, is the symptom of deeper malaise of Gujarat.