Across the Palk Straits
Terrorism in India: The invention and the reward
By Kuldip Nayar
A fact-finding team from Maharashtra has questioned the authenticity of terrorists' attack on the RSS headquarters at Nagpur earlier in the month. The team believes that the killing of three assailants was a put-up show by the police to get a pat on the back for fighting against terrorists. The police never cooperated with the team. Even when it wanted to read the First Information Report (FIR), it was refused.

The police behaviour does create doubts. But it is becoming a familiar pattern. We know from our experience how the police have staged false encounters to eliminate people, especially those against whom they have no evidence to pursue in a court of law.

The attack on the RSS headquarters may well be a thought-out plan to kill the three. There is no reason to disbelieve the fact-finding team's version because the members comprising it are known social workers and human rights activists. The fact that the police did not extend them any help for the probe is all the more reason to believe that they had something to hide.

The letter which the police have written to the team before entertaining its request for assistance is a questionnaire which is primarily directed against the team and its composition.

I am not surprised to find that the attack story is doubted. A few years ago, two persons were killed at Ansal Plaza basement in New Delhi. The police version was that they had been killed in an encounter. A doctor, who was an eyewitness, said that the police brought "the terrorists" in their van and bumped them off. I filed a petition with the National Human Rights Commission questioning the police version. The NHRC merely forwarded the complaint to Delhi Police which naturally confirmed its men's version.

What is the purpose of such probes? The commission should have appointed some independent authority. Understandably, the RSS has not said anything. It fits into its propaganda that the terrorists are roaming all over India since the exit of the Atal Behari Vajpayee's government. Therefore, the announcement by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to give Rs 10 lakh to the policemen who killed the three assailants is not a surprise.

Modi's announcement is followed by another BJP chief minister from Madhya Pradesh. Shivraj Singh Chauhan's reward is also for a similar amount. I began to suspect the whole thing when I read the statements by the two chief ministers. How are they justified in announcing rewards for protecting the RSS headquarters which is in another state, Maharashtra?

True, both Modi and Chauhan were once the RSS pracharaks (preachers), an important position. They may have wanted to placate the RSS leadership or to make it publicly clear that the building at Nagpur is the BJP's Vatican. But what the two have done amounts to interference in the affairs of Maharashtra. Law and order is a state subject and, according to the constitution, even the Centre has no say in it. Trying to interfere in the affairs of another state is a serious matter and parliament should take notice of it.
Today it is the reward; tomorrow it can take another shape.

The BJP chief ministers may take upon themselves the responsibility of protecting the RSS headquarters and sending policemen from their states as guards. They can argue that their Vatican is 'exposed' to the dangers in non-BJP ruled state.

Look at this matter from another angle. If Modi and Chauhan are justified in announcing the reward, Maharashtra chief minister can say that his state will honour the odd policemen who protected the Muslims during the pogrom in Gujarat.

Things can go still farther. One state may begin to commend or condemn the law and order situation in another state. The two BJP chief ministers are treading on thin ice. Modi's reaction to the killing of some Gujarati tourists in Kashmir was equally outlandish. None can keep one's eyes shut over what is being done against tourists and the labour. Attacks on them are more reprehensible than the attack on the RSS headquarters.

But Modi's statement was highly irresponsible. He said that the Kashmiri goods should be boycotted. It is a verdict worse than that of a kangaroo court. Some terrorists purposely want to disturb the tourist season in Kashmir. Modi is playing into their hands. They do not want any Kashmiri to do anything with the rest of India. How is an average Kashmiri responsible for the misdeeds of terrorists who are probably not even Kashmiri?

Modi's remedy to punish the innocent Kashmiri for the murder by the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir is pernicious. This kind of reprisal was heard only during the Nazi regime in Germany under Hitler.

What the BJP general secretary Vinay Katiyar said and rationalised afterwards beats all. He announced a prize of Rs 1 lakh for any civilian who kills a militant. The pressure by the BJP leaders forced him to make his observation equivocal. But there is no doubt that he said so. This is what is on record: "…We all want to fight terrorism. It is because of this that we made an announcement today that anyone who kills a terrorist -- civilians, we are not talking of security forces -- will get Rs 1 lakh."

Left to Katiyar, he would convert Jammu and Kashmir into a theatre of civil war. His observation only underlines the fascist tendencies that some leaders in the BJP have. All this is a sad reflection on New Delhi. When Modi says and does anything illegal and gets away with it, where is the centre's responsibility to uphold the constitution? It means that the Manmohan Singh government has come to adopt convenience as its policy, not compliance with what the rule of law demands. It is a pathetic state of affairs.

I have come across a poignant passage in an interview by actor Naseeruddin Shah: "It never entered my head until the riots in Mumbai. A so-called well-wisher rang me and said it might be time for me to start looking for an alternative. 'Get out of here, find another job, find another life.' None of us had ever felt that being Muslim stood in the way of us doing what we wanted."

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