The way Rhea and her family are hounded and not even 'allowed' to give their side of the story, goes to prove how very cruel we can get. Rhea's interviews came in much too late, after adequate damage was already allowed to be done. And her brother and mother never really spoke out. Her father, Lt. Col ( Retd) Indrajit Chakraborty's one-sentence alone was, perhaps, potent enough to hit the sensitive among us –"Congratulations India, you have arrested my son, I'm sure next on the line is my daughter and I don't know who is next thereafter. You have effectively demolished a middle-class family…"
Have you wondered what must be the fate of hundreds and thousands of the supposedly accused who are declared criminals even before they are proven to be so by the courts? There are only a few, a small percentage, who are fortunate enough to get bailed out or freed. Most sit languishing for years and even if freed after years they are at a complete loss how to go about re-starting their lives.
What also hits me is this shocking reality.... Often, even before the 'caught ' someone (that is, if he is not killed /silenced in an encounter!) is convicted, there's not just a hood or an Arab head-scarf thrown around his face but he is paraded as a criminal or a terrorist, linked to terror outfits. All this done rather too blatantly! The arrested someone could be innocent, yet stands framed and nailed even before an investigation gets started!
Are the arrested left in a position to tell their side of the story? After all, once in police custody, they could be put through severe torture; reduced to a nothingness of sorts! Unless, of course, he or she could have political godfathers or the backing of the political mafia! Then, of course, there'd be a totally different turn of events; not to be ruled out is even high level of security-cover provided and also slants in the godi media.
Hundreds are gunned down in our country even before they are given a chance to defend themselves. One is reminded of the encounter of Ishrat Jehan— the 19 year old student killed in an encounter, in 2004, on a road between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in Gujarat, by the officers of the Ahmedabad Police Crime Branch led by D.G. Vanzara.
A few years after her killing, when I had got in touch with Ishrat Jehan's younger sister Musarrat and her mother Shamima Kauser, for a feature I was writing, they had told me that Ishrat was killed along a political strategy: top politicians of Gujarat concocted the bogus theory that Ishrat had gone to kill the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, so they had her killed in that encounter!
In fact, during the course of an interview, I had asked the New Delhi-based lawyer activist, Vrinda Grover, why she had decided to fight for Ishrat Jehan. And Grover detailed, "It was soon after the Sohrabuddin case was taken up by the Supreme Court and the nexus between the cops and politicians was exposed that I was contacted by Ishrat's family to take up their case. It was the conviction of the mother and family in the innocence of Ishrat and their determination to have her name cleared of the tag of terrorism, that persuaded me. They wanted their respect and dignity restored…As a human rights lawyer I often represent victims of police atrocities and violence. But after meeting Shamima Kauser (Ishrat's mother) and her children, seeing the case file and reading the truth about Sohrabuddin's murder, it was clear that this 'encounter' was not just a crime committed by some trigger-happy cops, but rather part of a State-sanctioned and planned violence against Muslims, which was unleashed in the genocidal pogrom of 2002." Vrinda had also explained "It is very important to bring out the truth behind these fake encounters because in Gujarat there is a criminal nexus between the political executive, the police and even persons in critical positions in the IB. both in the Centre and State. This is a very dangerous and lethal combination and before our eyes a fascist state is in the making."
Writ large it gets that the political killers of Ishrat Jehan have been desperate to justify Ishrat's encounter killing. They went to the extent of using the utterances of David Headley, to be taken as gospel truth in the context of the encounter killing of Ishrat Jehan!
The whistle blower cop of the Gujarat cadre, RB Sreekumar, hit out on this farce, "By merely re-iterating his earlier statement that Ishrat Jehan, killed by Gujarat police, in collaboration with the Central IB, David Coleman Headley did not provide any fruitful and significant inputs facilitating further probes by Indian Security Agencies. Earlier also Headley had stated that Ishrat Jehan was an LeT operative, without related information about her network and hierarchy in LeT and specific operations carried out by her and her friends in India and other places. Of course, his statement has been music to the ears of BJP leaders and organizers of fake encounters like DIG Vanzara of Gujarat Police, who in his resignation letter in 2013 had confirmed that encounters were carried out, in pursuance of a well-conceived strategic policy of Modi Government. Perhaps, there is tie-up between USA and India about Headley who must have been assured of immunity from legal action in India and USA for his culpable role as an operative of LeT…"
In fact, Sreekumar had also detailed, "Magisterial enquiry by Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate and Special Investigation Team appointed by the High court of Gujarat had confirmed that Ishrat was killed in a fake encounter.… CBI could not trace out the source of AK 47 rifle recovered from Ishrat. Did Ishrat have skill and expertise to operate AK 47 weapon? Who were her supporters and their point wise game plan? No collateral, corroborative and circumstantial evidence supporting the crimes of Headley has come out so far. The spree of fake encounters started in October 2002 by Gujarat police strangely stopped with the arrest of DG Vanzara and other police officers in April, 2007. Significantly, no terrorist was killed or arrested since then. How did Islamic Jihadists become inactive after the arrest of police officers for their culpable complicity in fake encounters?"
I end this column by re-stressing that with the political intrusions reaching treacherous levels, any apolitical can be framed and nailed and jailed and whatever happens thereafter. ..One has to just about name a particular person to be targeted and then leave the rest to the godi media to do the needful follow-up!