Plaza killing - Can state be a law unto itself?
PUCL condemns VHP attack on journalist
-- By Kuldip Nayar
I do not understand why the Bharatiya Janata Party and the police are
trying to confuse the Ansal Plaza shooting incident. At issue are not
the "so-called human rights activists" or their "anti-national
stand." Nor is it the past record of Hari Krishna's "fraud and
dacoity" as alleged by the police. The point to ascertain is whether
the "encounter" in which the two terrorists were killed was
genuine or false.
The doctor has said repeatedly - he called me on the phone on Monday morning-
that he, his wife and his son, were at the parking basement when some
men in plainclothes fired at the two men who looked as if they had not
slept for many days. He says there was no exchange of fire.
The latest version
of the police is that the doctor reached the Ansal Plaza two hours later.
I doubt if there is any technology, which can trace the movement of a
person on the basis of mobile telephones or calls. Still, the police have
stuck to their stand that it was an encounter and that the doctor did
not witness it.
I have come to be skeptical about encounters after reports from Kashmir
and Punjab where innocent people were bumped off. Many cases challenging
the veracity of encounters are pending before courts and the National
Human Rights Commission. Just because the police say that it was an encounter,
it does not become an encounter.
When I saw some clips of the shootout on TV, I felt that the police story
had many gaping holes. Reports in print heightened my doubts. Still, I
it at that. But when the eyewitness account appeared in two newspapers,
I decided to pursue the matter. I met Justice Verma, Chairman of the National
Human Rights Commission, to request him to order an inquiry to find out
Why the BJP spokesperson rushed to defend the police while the inquiry
was in progress is beyond me. And, why he should get irritated over my
lending my name when I am one of the "so-called" human rights
activists' and when he finds me the "over ground face of the underground."
The problem with us is that we do not hold any discourses, political or
other, dispassionately because those who constitute the establishment
do not use arguments to defend themselves but resort to abuses to cover
up their deficiencies. The BJP's spokesperson still young in politics,
will attain maturity as years go by and probably imbibe the trait of humility.
However, his spat made the Foreign Office at Islamabad say the Indian
media had suggested that the evidence of the terrorist's nationality was
"fabricated." There has been no such discussion in the media.
The terrorists may well be from Pakistan because it has been stopped cross
border terrorism. The Lashkar-e-Taiba still has its headquarters in Pakistan.
My concern is with my country which is open and democratic and where the
rule of law has preeminence despite limitations. Dr. Krishna's charge
is a serious one not to be belittled or ignored on the ground that the
police morale would be affected if the allegation were pursued. When there
are persistent voices that law protectors have become law violators, the
Government must sit up and ponder. The State can frame as many laws as
it requires to fight terrorism. But it has to stay within the limits of
the law. It cannot be a law unto itself.
Human rights activists are as much against State terrorism as against
the terrorists. The activists do not want the voice of dissent to be muzzled.
Nor do they want the right to differ to the misused. But governance is
not worth a dime if human rights are not an integral part of it. I want
to congratulate Dr. Krishna because he had the courage to speak out. He
has refused to be cowed down by threats or influenced by cajoling. This
trait to stand up and be counted is lessening in the country day by day.
People are afraid to tell the truth lest they should land themselves in
trouble. Such an attitude does not portend well fora free polity.
If the nations is to preserve the fundamental values of a democratic society,
every person, whether a public functionary or private citizen, must display
a degree of vigilance and willingness to sacrifice.
Without the awareness
of what is right and a desire to act according to what is right, there
may be no realisation of what is wrong! Over the years, for many, the
dividing line between right and wrong, moral and immoral, has ceased to
exists. This is the biggest problem we face, not withstanding what the
BJP's spokesperson says.