By Shyam Khosla
The Congress Party was never exposed so thoroughly about framing its political rivals in criminal cases for petty partisan ends as has been done in the twists and turns in Sadhvi Uma Bharti'scase.
The facts of the case are simple. She led a massive procession on August 15, 1994 at Hubli with the intention of unfurling the national tricolour at the so-called Idgah Maidan?a public place belonging to the Hubli Municipal Committee that was occasionally used by the local Muslims to offer namaz. She was intercepted and taken into custody along with some other BJP leaders. The crowd turned restive and there were stray incidents of violence. A section of the crowd managed to reach the Maidan and unfurl the tricolour. The police opened fire, killing six persons and injuring countless others. There was no judicial enquiry to find out whether or not the police firing was justified. Subsequently, she and certain other leaders were booked not only for unlawful assembly (that she said she was leading and was willing to accept punishment for) but also for cooked up charges like rioting, arson and attempt to murder. An intriguing aspect is that all this was done even as she was released from police custody after the happenings on the Independence Day. Did the police register a case against her to save its own skin from the charge of using force disproportionate to the requirements of the situation or was it done under instructions from a vindictive Congress government?
No one took the case seriously, as everyone concerned knew it was a frame up and there was no evidence whatsoever against the BJP leader. She was in police custody when a section of the crowd turned violent, obviously provoked by the police action, and members of her party unfurled the flag at the disputed site. Presumably realising the futility of carrying on with the false cases that could never be proved in a court of law, the S.M. Krishna government through a Cabinet decision, decided to withdraw cases against all the accused ?in public interest? and sought the court'spermission to withdraw the case. While allowing the prosecution to withdraw all other cases, the magistrate declined permission in the case pertaining to attempt to murder against Bharti on the technical ground that it was beyond his jurisdiction and that only the Session Court could take a view on it.
It is ridiculous to compare cases against former Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani and former Chief Minister Uma Bharti with those against Lalu Yadav and Taslimuddin.
Immediately after the BJP-led Opposition forced the resignation of Sibu Soren in a murder case, an acutely embarrassed Congress Party decided to take revenge. Someone at the top (who was he/she?) asked the Karanataka government to change track. Subsequently the government sought to withdraw its appeal for dropping all cases against Bharti and the court issued NBW against her. Bharti quit the office of Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and rushed to Hubli to surrender to the court that sent her to judicial custody as she declined to seek bail. The public response to her resignation and national outrage against Congress government'svindictiveness forced the Congress to retrace its steps. It seemed to have read the writing on the wall: the more she is kept in jail, the worse it will be for the Congress.
The insertion of half-page advertisements in all major dailies of the country by the Congress Party is a measure of its discomfiture at its flip-flop on the Bharti issue. No Indian worth his salt is likely to be taken in by the Congress Party'sassertion that it has great ?faith and respect? for the judiciary for it flies in the face of the party'strack record. It was the Congress government led by Rajiv Gandhi that nullified the Supreme Court judgement in the Shah Bano case by abusing its brute majority in Parliament. Congress goons led by Sanjay Gandhi disrupted court proceedings and hurled chairs at magistrates during 1977 when he and others were hauled up for their crimes during Emergency. This much for the ?faith and respect? the Congress has for the judiciary!
It is ridiculous to compare cases against former Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani and former Chief Minister Uma Bharti with those against Lalu Yadav and Tasslimudin. The cases against BJP leaders are political since they were framed in criminal cases while leading political movements. Lalu and Tasslimudin, on the other hand, are involved in heinous crimes like corruption, fraud, murders and conspiracy. Advani resigned from Parliament and never entered Parliament till the courts exonerated him in the Jain hawala case. Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh may not appreciate what a political case is for they have never participated in a political movement but others in the party, that have been booked in numerous cases while leading agitations, need to brief them on the issue.
The Congress Party and a section of the media are spreading canards about riots during Lal Krishna Advani'sRath Yatra in 1989 and the procession led by Uma Bharti at Hubli in 1994. These lies have been repeated a thousand times yet lack credibility. There were no communal riots during or in the wake of Advani'sYatra. Of course, there were riots in the wake of demolition of the dispute structure during 1992. To blame Advani for those unfortunate riots is absurd for it was he who tried his best to prevent angry and restless Karsevaks from proceeding towards the disputed structure. Similarly, Uma Bharti was in police custody when the crowd enraged by police action indulged in violence. Why blame her for the violence and call it a riot? Why not haul up the police for provoking the crowd and opening fire?