Key BJP, RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal activists speak openly of how Narendra Modi blessed the anti-Muslim pogrom.
A SHADOWY HISTORY OF SUSPICIOUS TERROR ATTACKS
by Arundhati Roy
Though one chapter of horror in Mumbai has ended, another might have just begun. Day after day, a powerful, vociferous section of the Indian elite, goaded by marauding TV anchors who make Fox News look almost radical and left-wing, have taken to mindlessly attacking politicians, all politicians, glorifying the police and the army, and virtually asking for a police state. It isn’t surprising that those who have grown plump on the pickings of democracy (such as it is) should now be calling for a police state. The era of ‘pickings’ is long gone. We’re now in the era of Grabbing by Force, and democracy has a terrible habit of getting in the way.Dangerous, stupid television flash cards like the Police are Good, Politicians are Bad/ Chief Executives are Good, Chief Ministers are Bad/ Army is Good, Government is Bad/ India is Good, Pakistan is Bad are being bandied about by TV channels that have already whipped their viewers into a state of almost uncontrollable hysteria.
Tragically, this regression into intellectual infancy comes at a time when people in India were beginning to see that the business of terrorism is a hall of mirrors in which victims and perpetrators sometimes exchange roles. It’s an understanding that the people of Kashmir, given their dreadful experiences of the last 20 years, have honed to an exquisite art. On the mainland we’re still learning. (If Kashmir won’t willingly integrate into India, it’s beginning to look as though India will integrate/disintegrate into Kashmir.)
It was after the 2001 Parliament attack that the first serious questions began to be raised. A campaign by a group of lawyers and activists exposed how innocent people had been framed by the police and the press, how evidence was fabricated, how witnesses lied, how due process had been criminally violated at every stage of the investigation. Eventually the courts acquitted two out of the four accused, including S.A.R. Geelani, the man whom the police claimed was the mastermind of the operation. A third, Shaukat Guru, was acquitted of all the charges brought against him but was then convicted for a fresh, comparatively minor offence. The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of another of the accused, Mohammad Afzal. In its judgement, the court acknowledged that there was no proof that Mohammad Afzal belonged to any terrorist group, but went on to say, quite shockingly, “The collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender. ” Even today we don’t really know who the terrorists that attacked Indian Parliament were and who they worked for.
(Left) Hemant Karkare, The ATS Chief who was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Karkare digged out the possible role of Sangh Privar behind the Malegaon tragedy.
Only days after the Batla House event, another story about ‘terrorists’ surfaced in the news. In a report submitted to the court, the CBI said that a team from Delhi’s Special Cell (the same team that led the Batla House encounter, including Mohan Chand Sharma) had abducted two innocent men, Irshad Ali and Moarif Qamar, in December 2005, planted 2 kg of RDX and two pistols on them, and then arrested them as ‘terrorists’ who belonged to Al Badr (which operates out of Kashmir). Ali and Qamar, who have spent years in jail, are only two examples out of hundreds of Muslims who have been similarly jailed, tortured and even killed on false charges.
While the Sangh parivar does not seem to have come to a final decision over whether or not it is anti-national and suicidal to question the police, Arnab Goswami, anchorperson of Times Now television channel, has stepped up to the plate.
He has taken to naming, demonising and openly heckling people who have dared to question the integrity of the police and armed forces. My name and the name of the well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan have come up several times. At one point, while interviewing a former police officer, Arnab Goswami turned to the camera; “Arundhati Roy and Prashant Bhushan,” he said, “I hope you are watching this. We think you are disgusting.” For a TV anchor to do this in an atmosphere as charged and as frenzied as the one that prevails today amounts to incitement as well as threat, and would probably in different circumstances have cost a journalist his or her job.