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Vir Sanghvi in his latest counterpoint:
There is something annoying and frustrating about the way in which the Congress and the BJP are playing politics with the encounter that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan and two of her companions in Gujarat
...Ideally, we should have the guts to look our encounter policy in the eye and to confront the issues head-on so that everybody – policemen, terrorists, lawyers and media – knows exactly where we stand.
But of course, we do no such thing. We lose ourselves in hypocrisy and doublespeak.
And when the politicians get involved, they only make matters worse by trivializing the issues so that they can win votes.
I think his point one and two are unexceptionable and everyone would agree with them. And of course, it is helpful that he is being provocative, so that the problem can be thought through. It's from his point three onwards that things start getting grey. Most thinking people, to my mind would not approve of just bumping off people on the mere charge of being terrorists -- and even if they do, there is a problem with that point of view, as his point four brings out.
People may find it easy to be in denial when they "know" that the people concerned are terrorists -- and that is where VS's own caveat to point one -- and the headline Can we allow a policeman to be prosecutor, judge and executioner? addresses the dilemma quite well.
The real need is for police and legal reforms so that the genuine concerns against actual terrorists not being able to be brought to justice can be addressed.
It should be obvious, but perhaps it is a sign of the times that Mukul Kesavan has to point out that the moral of Ishrat’s tragic story has little to do with her antecedents and everything to do with the impunity with which governments in India kill their own citizens in the name of summary ‘justice’:
Unless we learn to monitor and protest the impunity with which the State and the police resort to extra-judicial murder and custodial killing, outrage at specific instances of these becomes ineffective, even counter-productive. So if you rage and grieve when a middle-class Muslim girl who could have been your daughter is killed but ignore the recent and mysterious death of a murderous hoodlum called R. Rajan in police custody in Chennai, you aren’t protesting the violation of due process or taking a stand against extra-judicial murder: you are merely riding a private hobby horse: the welfare of minorities or the wickedness of the Gujarat government...
Read the full piece: Ishrat Jahan's Death