Speak out and say Yes to Unity: Tarun Vijay

2 10 2008

Source TOI

Do we get bad leaders inspite of having good people ? If our people are great, why do we have leaders who fail? Where are the people if the leaders are not doing what we think they should be doing?

A people so intensely under attack by the terrorists can’t claim to be brave by sitting silently and petitioning state clerks. Those who fear get what they fear.

While China, having superbly completed the Olympics, sent a man for a space walk and Sarah Palin “delighted” our PM in the US with a handshake, India seems to be descending dangerously into communal polarisation, reinforced and powered by a secular lobby. In the process, the morale of the police and other security forces is being affected for they are facing the brunt from terrorists as well as the secularists in the government and the media who are running them down, doubting their intentions and integrity.

Suddenly yardsticks for our judgment have changed. Opinions, morphed as judgments, are passed not on merit or weighing its consequences for the society, but by the yardstick of the colour events wear. The Nanavati Commission’s report is to be discarded even before its pages are browsed because the Narendra Modi government instituted it and it shows Hindus as victims. The Bannerjee report is to be trusted because the secular Lalu Yadav instituted it and shows Hindus as aggressors. Strange logic.

Who speaks for the Indian?

Inspector M.C.Sharma’s funeral is not to be attended because he shot at Muslims. When the men in khaki arrested the Kanchi Shankaracharya, not a single secular channel or newspaper cast any doubt on the police reports and statements. But when the men in khaki arrested a few from Jamia Milia, doubts were raised immediately and investigative journalism flowered.

Anything written about patriotism, even a good word about Inspector Sharma, is sought to be embarrassed under a general head – Hindu media. I read this term being used first time in the aftermath of the Jamia controversy. Anything that Muslims show as a sign of solidarity with the rest of the India and condemnation of terrorism is either blacked out or shown apologetically.

Last week, 21st September to be exact, a few hundred young professional Muslim youth from Okhla and Jamia Nagar organized a silent procession at India Gate in New Delhi. They were condemning terrorism, asking for the harshest punishment for terrorists who use Islam for their crimes, and they wanted to be recognized as patriots. I didn’t see the coverage it deserved. Why?

Who is speaking for the Indians who were killed in the Delhi blasts? Why did they have to be turned lifeless in a sudden stroke?

Suddenly a blast occurs and their life is changed. You are going to see a movie, and next moment found dead. Someone bringing his daughter home from school – suddenly both are dead in a blast. Gone to market for shopping – minutes later a phone call at home says ‘Please come to claim the dead body’. Terrorism has changed our lives, our behaviour, our language and relations. Yet we feel hesitant to speak out.

What happens to those who were dependent on the terror-struck victim nobody knows. They are not news. Can’t we speak about Simran – whose father and grandfather were killed in the previous blast – and about Santosh, the sweet little kid who got killed in Mehrauli blast on Saturday?

“Son, what’s your religion?” – should that be our first query and decide what is said next?

Hard law is bad, because it was “used” against a particular community. Police is bad because it’s arresting and targeting a particular community.

Terror is secular, khaki is suspect

While the nation and her security forces – that includes the police too, stand firm to combat terrorism, the state power and the seculars are providing focused support to terrorists and enhancing their morale through statements and casting doubt on the motives of the anti-terror action. India’s secular cabinet ministers demanded lifting of a ban on a terrorist organization, proposed Indian citizenship to millions of illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators, refused to say a word of encouragement to the security forces fighting terrorists but publicly assured help to the accused whom police, a part of the government, arrested for blasting Delhi and killing citizens.

All these secular statements had just one consideration – religion of the groups they want to support or oppose. The seculars have become the worst kind of communal hate spreaders, with their extreme one-sided postures and acidic language. In a way these rabble-rousing seculars have become a security threat affecting the societal fabric and the morale of the policemen and soldiers.

They ordered a communal head count in the army, ignored and downgraded celebrations of Bharat Vijay Diwas, 16th December, and Kargil Vijay Diwas, stopped observing the Pokharan test anniversary in Delhi and failed to show due respect to Field Marshall Manekshaw. All this can’t just be exceptions; they show a trend, an attitude.

These are the same elements who represent the governance and by virtue of being cabinet ministers, which ironically includes having taken an oath that obliges them to be loyal to the Constitution, succeed in facilitating comforts for the killers and create an atmosphere in which sympathies for the terrorists are generated and police become suspect with doubtful integrity. Words like – “they have a soft heart”, “they are our children and hence it’s our duty to provide them help”, “nothing can be said till they are proven guilty”, etc – are bandied about to warn the police and reassure those whom police caught at risk to their lives.

It’s good and admirable to stick to a universal assumption that everyone is innocent till proven guilty. But during wartime words spoken publicly have to be weighed against their possible impact on the elements that shoulder the responsibility to safeguard the nation. If you start being celestially virtuous by sympathizing with the pains and difficulties of those who have waged a war on the state, it’s bound to paralyze the enthusiasm of patriotic soldiers and civil resistance.

They know their side

In the secular dispensation, to be objective, liberal and broadminded and have sympathies on humanitarian grounds are reserved only for terror groups. Is it a secret that these seculars leave no stone unturned to create an atmosphere where procedural mechanism to punish the guilty is influenced and driven to believe that the arrested criminal is not the culprit, but the victim of an incompetent state apparatus.

Remember how a vigorous campaign to release a lecturer of the same Jamia Milia Islamia was launched in spite of Delhi police submitting a truckload of evidence about his involvement in the attack on Parliament? And the famous case of Abdul Mahdani, declared as the “main accused” in the Coimbatore bomb blast case, which left 58 dead? Karunanidhi went to see him in jail, provided all the facilities, including a regular masseur, and finally when on purely “technical” points he was released, Kerala’s Left Front cabinet ministers came out and accorded him a public felicitation?

The charges against Mahdani were as follows:

“Accused No. 14 Mahdani is one of the key conspirators in the Coimbatore bomb blasts case.”

“Accused of collecting and transferring explosives to the town, ripped by a series of bomb blasts on February 14, 1998.”

“Charged under Sections 302 IPC (Murder); 307 IPC (Attempt to Murder); 153-A IPC (Creating hatred among communities); Section 5 of the Explosives Act and Section 25 of the Arms Act.”

Public prosecutor Balasundarm, arguing against Mahdani, had expressed “surprise” over the judgment to release him and said he did a good job in assimilating the voluminous evidence of documents 1785 documents marked as evidence, 1300 witnesses and over 15,000 pages of investigation records. If indeed the case had been presented as thoroughly as claimed, why did it fail?

If such incidents do not open the eyes of the people leading our public life, then what’s the course left for a law-abiding patriot?

In any other country facing such a serious serial terror assault, those who publicly empathize with the terrorists would have been tried along with the arrested accused of the blasts.

Speak out and say yes to unity.

It’s the emergent duty of the media and political powers to help stop the dangerous polarization taking place in our social circles and polity post-bomb blasts and public shows of secular sympathies for the accused killers.

While care should be taken that no educational institution gets a bad name because of the actions of a few, it’s also the duty of the faculty and the students to show solidarity with the terror-struck people. Muslim leaders have to come out openly re-enforcing a citizen’s solidarity against terror. If students fail in duty and character, the teachers will have to share the responsibility for their bad behaviour. It’s also wrong and false that a few wronged people have taken up guns. What wrongs and if it is indeed so, how many Kashmiri Hindus will have to take up guns?

Rather, the goodness of the religion needs to be publicized and there will be no dearth of other communities joining with such Muslims. So far it’s only the Hindus who are coming out openly defending the goodness of the Indian Muslims and their religion. Nobody generalizes the community as terrorists, unlike in Europe and America. This difference remains unrecognized though. Maulanas are silent, teachers do not speak out and the common men suffer in silence. Is that the way we are going to deal with this war? If people don’t forge solidarity and revolt and keep looking to politicians for all solutions, even god will think twice about helping them.

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Fragrance of fire

22 09 2008

Source: TOI
More articles of the author can be found at TOI

Delhi is mourning the death of Inspector M C Sharma who dared to take on the terrorists hiding in Jamia Nagar. It’s rare that police force gets such an appreciation and salute that is otherwise reserved for the armed forces. The reactions of the people and the anchors on the news channels were sad, moist and genuine.

Why did he have to have this martyrdom?

The men in Khaki are more known and portrayed in movies as lazy, corrupt, unintelligent and seekers of pleasure at public cost. Few know the trying circumstances they work in and the salaries they draw. They are facing the Communist terrorism in thirteen states, their martyrdom in action, go often less reported and almost unsung. They are given the most outdated rifles and equipment and the facilities to act against terrorists who are cunning, resourceful and heavily armed with modern weapons. The police laws are shamefully inadequate. Indian police was governed under the 1861 act of the British government that was meant for the colonial brute force to control subjugated natives till 2006.

As close as 16th July, the Maoists in Orissa killed 21 policemen. In 2007, Maoists had killed 22 policemen in Bihar. According to a newspaper report, Bihar, one of the worst Maoist affected states along with Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, has the lowest police-people ratio. Over 19,000 posts in the state police department have not been filled up. In March 2007 the Maoists had killed 50 policemen in Chhattisgarh. During Rajasthan’s Gujjar movement in May this year, unruly protestors beheaded a policeman.

Every one, including the politician, loves to deride and insult police openly and get applause. But every one wants police to help them in times of distress and crisis. From a small traffic accident to domestic violence and petty thefts to Nithari ‘s cannibals and Arushi murder, it’s the police that faces the public and is under constant pressure to show results. The politicians use them as domestic servants and commission agents, corrupting them and in turn helping out of turn the facilitator men in Khaki. Yet the most important task – to reform and modernize the police force – remains in cold storage till something like Delhi blasts occur and there is a huge pressure built up by people and media on the government. Then just to avoid the immediate criticism a few announcements are made to spend a few more crores on police force. No body knows how many years would take to see these announcements implemented.

It was in July 2006 that the Indian government had unveiled an ambitious Rs.52 billion plan for modernising the Central and state police forces. The money is yet to be utilized. Manipur, for example, which is declared ‘A’ class seeing high incidents of insurgency, didn’t spend eight crores earmarked for police modernization yet showed it as ‘spent’ in accounts, which was detected in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Lack of men power, political interference, a tendency to demoralize the honest and upright officers, lack of coordination between different forces and a complete absence of a mechanism to share information and cooperate with each other amongst various shades of police forces, including para-military security organisations make the task of police more difficult and cumbersome.

The level of demoralization in police forces is well exemplified by a recent report from Hyderabad that says: “Police stations in at least 100 mandals across the state do not want to avail four and six wheelers fearing landmine attacks by the Maoists. This comes following intelligence inputs that cops deployed in the jurisdiction of these police stations run the highest risk of being targeted by the Naxals. Currently, there are 1,559 police stations in the state of which about 700 have no four wheelers for mobility. Though the police department provided at least 207 vehicles to the police stations through the Police Transport Organisation, the Naxal-hit areas have not been included. A senior police officer said, “There are several instances of Naxals targeting police personnel moving in four wheelers. Landmines and claymore mines are a big threat to the police teams travelling in jeeps and buses in the Naxal-hit Andhra-Orissa border, Khammam-Chhattisgarh border, North Telangana and surroundings of Nallamala.’ Police usually move in private vehicles and sometimes on two-wheelers in the Maoist-hit zones.”

Those who shoulder the responsibility to provide security to people are left high and dry when the question of their own security arises. Just a month ago an ambitious scheme has been passed by the Union Cabinet, which aims to strengthen police force in Naxal affected areas by raising 10 battalions (10,000 personnel) at a cost of Rs 1389.47 crore. After debating on the proposal for nearly eight months, the Union Home Ministry finally moved the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for raising the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), which will be similar to ‘Greyhounds’ of Andhra Pradesh Police. The Left-extremism, termed by the Prime Minister as a “virus”, has engulfed nearly 13 states.

But it’s not just the Naxal affected areas but the entire police network that needs a complete and radical overhaul. Their training needs a Japanese touch which has the best of Eastern values and a tough power to eliminate the rogues. The first and foremost thing that needs to be done is to make the police set up autonomous and remove all the traces of colonialism from the police force, that essentially includes taking off the Khaki colour, which reminds of the imperial British brutishness. In UP and Bihar, old Willy’s jeeps, reminding of the Sholay days and dacoit trail are in vogue with policemen wielding 303 guns.

The National Police Commission (NPC), created by the government in 1977, had submitted eight detailed reports during 1979-81, with comprehensive recommendations covering the entire gamut of police work. None was implemented completely. It was only because of a petition to the Supreme Court by one of the most able, honest and spirited police officers, Prakash Singh that the obnoxious Police Act of 1861 was struck down in one go in September 2006. That too happened, not surprisingly, having ‘heard’ the petition for ten long years. The Supreme Court said, “we think that there cannot be any further wait, and the stage has come for issue of appropriate directions for immediate compliance so as to be operative till such time as a new Model Police Act is prepared by the Central Government and/or the state governments pass the requisite legislations.”

The Supreme Court ordered the establishment of three institutions at the state level with a view to insulating the police from extraneous influences, according functional autonomy and ensuring accountability. These were:

• A State Security Commission to lay down broad policies and give directions relating to the preventive and service-oriented functions of the police.
• A Police Establishment Board, comprising the Director-General of Police and four other senior officers to decide on all transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The Board was also tasked with making appropriate recommendations to the state government regarding the postings and transfers of officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above.
• A Police Complaints Authority at the district and state level to look into allegations of misconduct by police personnel.

In addition, the apex court ordered that the Director-General of Police should be selected by state governments from the three senior-most officers empanelled for promotion to that rank by the UPSC. It further stipulated that the DGP should have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years. Police officers on operational duty in the field, like the Inspector general (IG) Zone, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Range, SP in charge of a district and Station House Officer (SHO) should also have a minimum tenure of two years.

But hardly these have been followed because every time there is a regime change, the entire police set up too is changed buy the incumbent political masters, bringing in their protégés and punishing those whom they thing had side with their rivals. This affects the respect for the able in the force and the virus goes down vertically.
Certainly there are still good officers in the police force and they need protection of law. It’s high time that the police forces’ control be taken off the authorities of the political set up and put under a professional autonomous body so that the people are secured and the moral of the brave men in khaki is also restored.

Security forces, whether in khaki or olive green, represent the spine of the land and the life of public institutions and democratic mechanism depends on them. Sadly they are the most ignored and left out segments. How the relatives of those brave security personnel, who were killed in action saving the lives of the parliamentarians, felt compelled to return the decorations given to their children is the saddest stories of state’s failure in recent times.

While we are nearing another anniversary of 13th December, when Parliament was attacked, can we hope that all the parties would come together to provide more teeth and facilities to our security forces and encourage their morale so that the best talent in our society feels a pride in joining forces and be the real ‘bobby’ of the people? They are the fragrance of the fire of nobility in our society; let that be preserved with all our support.

The author is the Director, Dr Syamaprasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.