I had written a small article in The Hindustan Times in June 2004. It was called ‘Come Shoot Me: I am a Terrorist’. It was to express my anguish on Ishrat Jahan’s killing in Gujarat.
The Magisterial Enquiry, which is mandatory in every encounter case (and which was never done in the Batla House encounter) has finally termed Ishrat jahan’s killing as a fake encounter yesterday in a metropolitan court. It is not a matter of surprise for us as we knew that she was killed in cold blood. Perhaps you will also agree that such things are happening and happened in Gujarat under Modi. But I am not writing to talk about how bad Modi is.
I am writing this to ask you a small favour. I know you have an absolutely hectic schedule and thousands of issues to handle so I am putting down here the facts, gathered from various media reports.
On June 15, 2003, the Ahmedabad city crime branch, then headed by the now jailed IPS officer D G Vanzara, shot four young people –Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Jisan Johar. It was propagated that these four young people were alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operatives who were allegedly on mission to kill chief minister Narendra Modi.
Ishrat, was a 19-year old student of Khalsa College in Mumbra, a Mumbai suburb. Ishrat's mother filed a petition in the high court in 2004 demanding death compensation and a CBI probe. Ishrat Jahan’s mother’s Petition alleged that it was a fake encounter as one of the many that the present government regime in Gujarat headed by Narendra Modi had done to achieve Political Mileage to publicly create panic and sympathy that the Chief Minister was sought to be assassinated.
The crime branch carried out the operation and the same agency conducted investigation.
When the petition was heard by Justice KS Jhaveri, he immediately proposed, almost on line taken by the Supreme Court in the infamous Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, for which Vanzara was jailed along with other policemen, that a five-member team - all of the rank of additional DGP - should probe this case.
The encounter was done by the infamous D. G. Vanzara and his team who are presently arrested under Orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of fake encounter of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausarbi. Sohrabuddin’s encounter has been admitted by the state to be fake and recently on 11/08/2008, they have agreed to deposit an amount of Rs. 10.00 Lakhs as interim ex-gratia compensation for being paid to the kith and kin of the two. There are allegedly 28 encounters which were fake and have been covered up. In Ishrat Jahan’s matter the CBI was impleaded as a party and it took a stand that if the Court so orders they are willing to carry out fresh investigations and unearth the truth. Such stand triggered panic with the State Government and it seems even with some Officers of Central Home Ministry. After UPA came to power some tainted CBI officers placed in Gujarat during the NDA with questionable track record were removed after a lot of pressure and almost two years but they soon found plush positions in Delhi under the UPA regime.
To our dismay we realized last month through the media reports that the Ministry of Home Affairs in an affidavit stated that Ishrat, Javed and two others Jisan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana were all operatives of Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Maintaining that the four were terrorists, the Union government told the high court, "No proposal for CBI investigation is under consideration of the Centre nor does it consider the present case fit for CBI probe." Moreover, the Centre claimed that there is no question of independent inquiry, as an additional DGP (CID & Intelligence) had carried out an independent probe into the incident and the officer is neither working with crime branch nor is he a subordinate to the crime branch, which carried out the operation and later investigated the case itself."
If you remember Hon’ble Prime Minister when I met you regarding the package for the Gujarat 2002 victims along with other activists from Gujarat I had jokingly said, “The news that UPA has replaced NDA at the centre has not reached your Home Ministry as yet." I had said this precisely in the connection of how the tainted officers promoted by the BJP were still being pampered under the UPA.
The reason behind filing of the Affidavit by the central government was to dissuade the Court from appointing a strong SIT and give a message that even the central government had approved the act of fake encounter. But for the magisterial enquiry the central home ministry had left no stone unturned to prove that Ishrat deserved to be killed. The logic used always is what will happen to the morale of the officers. My question is what happens to the morale of the officers when they torture innocent young people, when they kill them, when they illegally detain them, beat them. What happens to their morale then? Do they just go home and sleep?
Why don’t we as nation stop playing the farce of being a secular nation and why don’t we remove the article from the constitution which says all citizens are equal?
The affidavit filed by the home ministry is proof of the fact that in Ishrat Jahan’s fake encounter case UPA has connived with the Gujarat government in a blatantly communal manner. With 3 days to go before assembly bye election in 7 seats in Gujarat 5 more innocent boys have been picked up in Baroda and declared 'terrorists'.
I do not know if this letter will be also lost on the way and find itself in a dustbin as I have never received any acknowledgment from your office, so I will be forced to circulate it to others to lodge a strong protest against this blatant connivance of the home ministry with the Gujarat government. My request to you is that if your government has any political will then please ask your home ministry to tender a public apology for filing the affidavit against the innocent girl who was so brutally murdered. It requires some courage and conviction.
You are fond of poetry. Faiz ke chand lines apki nazar kar rahi hoon:
Tujh ko kitnon ka lahoo chahiye ae arz-i-watan,
Jo tiray arz-i-berang ko gulnaar karein
Kitni aahon se kaleja tira thanda hoga,
Kitne aansoo tiray sehraon ko gulzaar karein
(The blood of how many do you need O motherland;
That which will brighten your colourless earth;
How many sighs will soothe your heart;
How many tears will cause your deserts to bloom.)
Member, National Integration Council
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
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