Pulverizing pillars of State: Police, Army and Judiciary
by Sandhya Jain on 18 Nov 2008 5 Comments

There is now little doubt that the bizarre Malegaon Hindu Conspiracy Case is fast fizzling out, if ever it had any steam. This may be a relief for the individuals caught in the dragnet of “Hindu Terror,” but it is no consolation for the Institutions of State diminished in this contrived controversy - the Police, the Army, and the Judiciary.

Realization seems to be finally dawning in New Delhi and Mumbai that the levelling of daily allegations without substantiating a single charge after weeks of interrogations, narco-analysis and related hocus-pocus on “key” suspects, is proving counter-productive in the election-bound nation!

The search for the nearest exit has probably begun, with palpable anger rising in the armed forces over the manner in which a serving officer was hauled over the coals for mere association with nationalist families whose existence causes current rulers to break into cold sweat. There is dismay that a fishing expedition was launched to catch any retired or serving officers who could be netted, without thought to the damage to the morale of the armed forces, and the confidence of the nation that holds them in such high repute.

Mumbai’s Anti Terror Squad was doubtless politically pressurised to cook up the narrative of “Hindu Terror,” picking up pre-selected “culprits” to prove the script. Most likely the Congress-dominated UPA, failing or not daring to use the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), pushed the Congress-dominated coalition in Maharashtra to do something to “secure” the Muslim vote in the aftermath of the outcry against the Batla House encounter and the crackdown in Azamgarh, UP.

In the process, a section of the nation’s police force [which was cooperating across State boundaries to tackle the growing menace of jihad] was used to target the pre-eminent national institution – the Army. Not only has this shocked and demoralized the defence forces which are fighting multiple threats against the nation daily, it has put a spanner in the growing inter-State coordination between the police and intelligence agencies. This could be a diabolical response to the Delhi Police’s success in shooting a terrorist at Ansal Plaza, the Gujarat Police’s success in shooting Mumbai’s Ishrat Jehan and her associate and its success in nabbing three wanted men from Andhra Pradesh!

The construction of an entity called “Hindu Terror” is thus a wicked move to frustrate the institutional response to jihadi attacks on civilian targets nation-wide. It creates suspicions among Police officers that the political party ruling their respective States may act vindictively against them for cooperating with officers of a State ruled by a different political party. With the era of one-party dominance over, this is a recipe for the total paralysis of police response to terror.

Another aspect of the faux controversy over the Batla House encounter in which Inspector M.C. Sharma sacrificed his life is that it is giving a message to one community that henceforth Police will be hindered from locating and smoking out terrorists. Even more insidious is the message to Muslim citizens cooperating with the Police and giving information on suspected terrorists and their movements – henceforth they need not bother to cooperate with the State

In this scheme, the institution whose prestige will suffer most in the long-term is the Judiciary – hitherto an institution on which the common man pinned his hopes in these troubled times. Mumbai judges have been giving a long rope to the ATS, and seeking no evidence in return for long incarcerations of accused. Thus, though no worthwhile evidence has been furnished against Sadhvi Pragya and others after so many weeks, the judicial remand of eight out of ten accused has been extended till 29 November.

This is contrary to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court that an individual’s reputation is an inseparable part of his fundamental right to life and liberty, and hence Police should be very sure of their facts before taking a person into detention and lodging him/her in jail. In the present context, it is pertinent that some accused such as Sadhvi Pragya have submitted to repeated narco and other tests, and despite sustained interrogation, the police have not been able to furnish corroborative evidence of their guilt.

Unfortunately, just as the Mumbai ATS narrative began to get interesting from the viewpoint of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the Army turned spoilsport and started puncturing the balloon. Hardly had Bollywood scriptwriters switched on their computers, than “Indian Army insiders” began debunking the alleged confessions of Lt. Col. Purohit, especially the claim that he sourced RDX from the Army’s stock. It seems the Army does not use or store RDX; it uses TNT and plastic explosives (PEK), a detail the civilians who wrote the Hindu Terror plot could not be expected to know. 

It gets worse for the ATS. Lt. Col. Purohit could not have made off with 60 kg. of RDX even if he had indeed seized it in Jammu & Kashmir – because explosives seized by the Army are either destroyed on the spot or handed over to the police. So he could not have put the RDX into his pocket while pretending to have thrown it into the Jhelum! It goes without saying that he would need a rather large pocket to stuff 60 kg. of RDX.  

To further rub salt into the wound, the Army has revealed that as 60 kg. of RDX is a huge quantity, it cannot go missing without a  major inquiry being held. As an ordinary Major when posted as a Military Intelligence officer in Kashmir, Srikant Purohit was too junior to manipulate such huge quantities of explosives. In any case, seizures are made by infantry and not by intelligence personnel. Purohit also never received bomb-making training; his acquiring RDX from Army stores is simply ruled out. 

As the story began to come unstuck even before it could be fully developed [some accused have yet to be arrested], the ATS was forced to deny that the 60 kg. of RDX allegedly stolen by Lt. Col. Purohit [denied by the Army] was used in the Samjhauta Express blast in February 2007. This was because the forensic report of the blast said that the material used was a highly flammable cocktail of fuel oils, potassium chlorate and sulphur. No RDX.

Then, former Jammu & Kashmir Governor S.K. Sinha rubbished allegations by National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders Farooq Abdullah and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed that he had links with Malegaon blast accused Dayanand Pandey.

Finally, UPA’s nefarious design to create a bogey of “Hindu Terror” forced the somnolent Hindu elephant to rise, and now Hindu religious leaders are up in arms against this conspiracy against a community that has been at the receiving end of jihad for decades. A gathering of hundreds of sadhus and sants under the aegis of the Dharma Raksha Manch at Panipat on 16 November has threatened a nation-wide agitation on the lines of the ‘Amarnath movement.’ It will show its strength in New Delhi on 26 November – before the capital votes! No wonder BJP president Rajnath Singh eagerly joined the bandwagon, promising the seers that his party would not allow them to be defamed!

The decision to malign and arrest Hindu saints has so incensed the community that even Yoga guru Swami Ramdev has leaped into the fray. His invincible popularity combined with the eloquence of Sadhvi Ritambhara cannot but convince the Indian public that a “regime change at the Centre” is a national imperative.

The author is Editor

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