Thursday, May 29, 2014

The BJP and Justice, Chapter 2: Ishrat Encounter Cop Reinstated // Muzzafarnagar Riot accused becomes Union minister

The BJP and Justice, Chapter 2

In the new climate of public opinion it has become a practice to oppose 'development' to justice, as if the two are unconnected to each other. Truth and non-violence seem to have become irrelevant. But economic development without justice has already led to terrible consequences -arising from tyranny in land acquisitions, thousands of Adivasis languishing in jails; forced displacements of the urban poor, violence of contractors and the land mafia, indiscriminate construction of dams and roads (such as in Uttarakhand), etc. When injustice is resisted, freedom of speech and the right to organise become crucial for democracy. Hundreds of RIT activists have been attacked and/or murdered for their pursuit of truth and justice. (Maharashtra is first on the list, Gujarat second).

Development, justice, truth and non-violence are linked together. The new government has started off by announcing its contempt for truth and justice. The BJP's election campaign was bad enough, with meaningless & outrageous statements coming from its PM-candidate and leading lights, such as Ms Lekhi. Now it has begun promoting, re-instating, rewarding (purchasing silence?) persons carrying allegations of involvement in serious crimes. If this is what the BJP means by good governance, Indians who love democracy should speak out immediately, or they will have themselves to blame for the dictatorship over our minds and bodies that is being prepared for us by the Modi regime and its corporate backers. 

The ideologies of the RSS the Jamaat Islami, and other communal groups, are programmes for the political abolition of truth. (Satya ka rajnaitik unmoolan). Failure to challenge them will lead to a regime of lies, deceit, propaganda and brutal repression.

We have been warned. Sanjeev Baliyan, the new Union Minister of State for Agriculture who was accused of inciting the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in September that left over 60 persons dead, wants to turn over a new leaf by focusing on farmers' problems, rather than be bogged down by his past. (His victory procession was in defiance of prohibitory orders). Mr Baliyan now says he wants people to talk to him 'about sugar or farmers' issues, rather than harp on riots. I want to leave the riots behind, and want peace to return to Muzaffarnagar," (In late March, his co-accused, BJP MP Hukum Singh, of Kairana, said he would not allow Muzzafarnagar riot refugees to vote). 

This is a tried and tested method of manipulating public mentality - selective memory combined  with contempt for law and justice. Why should we forget, Mr Baliyan? Mr Modi hasn't forgotten, so why should we? A political movement which wants us to always remember 1528 (the date of Babar's alleged destruction of the Ram Temple) - keeps asking us to forget 2002. (No one even asks us to forget 2008, because it is forgotten anyway, who bothers about Kandhamal? Or for that matter the frightening Staines judgement, (2011) which 'forgot' that two little boys were also burned alive along with their father, Graham Staines in 1998?)

Now Mr Baliyan wants us to forget 2013. But what does all this mean? Should the FIR vanish? Should the trial be dragged on for decades, like the Babri Masjid demolition case? Should the police forget about the case, as the J&K police have avoided pursuing hundreds of cases of murder of Kashmiri civilians by persons known to have participated in terrorist actions? Or maybe Mr Baliyan is signalling that the police leave out crucial evidence, as they are believed to have done in Zakia Jafris petition? Should men accused of inciting violence and communal hatred be outside the purview of law and justice because they want us to forget what they did? Should the surviving victims of the 1984 carnage also forget about justice? Why have a justice system at all?

Ishrat Encounter Cop Reinstated - Gujarat Setting Dangerous Precedent?

Prime Minister Modi's elevation of Baliyan is a signal to all of us who believe in justice and the constitution. It is up to us (including Mr Baliyan) to decipher what kind of signal it is. I'm sure the message has been received, loud and clear. I hope those who reassured us that India's democratic institutions are strong enough to prevail over any potential danger of being politically undermined will now speak out. Especially as these institutions surely include a free press and outspoken media.

There is a long tradition in India, of elected representatives presiding over violence so massive that even the most efficient crime prevention system would collapse under the weight of criminality - and then asking everyone to forget, move on, not harp on the past. During the elections, the Election Commission ordered an FIR to be registered against Mr Modi as well. He poured ridicule on the Commission, and the fate of the investigation is anyone's guess, now that he is Prime Minister. 


Yes, the signs are clear. Some people are above the law, and some kind of crimes must not be considered crimes at all. They are part of the never-ending cycle of communal revenge that our country has endured for many decades. We are a world-class power where genocide has been a common place. 


The Gujarat government has only just reinstated suspended police officer G.L. Singhal, who was charge-sheeted in the Ishrat Jahan extra judical killings, and was the Investigating Officer who falsely implicated, tortured and framed 6 innocent Muslim men in the Akshardham case. The Supreme Court recently severely castigated the Gujarat police on this count. Even before the election results, the chief supervisory officer investigating the cases was relieved of the charge: Sleuth probing Gujarat encounters shifted, probe hit


We can see that justice is a top priority for Mr Modi - but what kind of priority? The constitution, to which both Mr Modi and Mr Baliyan and Ms Anandiben have sworn allegiance, still contains a criminal justice system. They may all want us to forget Muzaffarnagar, encounter killings etc, but the justice system is not bound by their wishes. Judges and officials are servants of the constitution, not of the government of the day. Let us see whether they stand by their oath. 

See also:



Very short list of examples of rule of law in India

The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi