Ishrat case proves how Gandhis were spooked by the rise of Narendra Modi
Former Home Secretary GK Pillai’s admission on Times Now—that an affidavit filed in the alleged “fake encounter” in Gujarat that killed four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists, including Ishrat Jahan, was deliberately changed under political direction to omit mention of their LeT affiliation – has set the cat among the pigeons.
Since this allegation has more or less been admitted by P Chidambaram in an interview to NDTV, it shows the extent to which the Gandhi family saw Narendra Modi as a clear threat to its political domination even as early as 2009 (or even earlier), when the Congress party had just trounced the BJP in the general elections. Chidambaram told NDTV: “The original affidavit did say that A, B, C, D were terrorists, but the IB’s position was we don’t name or charge anyone as terrorists… therefore a second affidavit had to be filed to clarify (that),” and that he “owned the decision” to file the second affidavit.
What is shocking is not merely that the affidavit was changed, but it was changed in a way that made threats to national security secondary to the political interests of the Gandhi dynasty, Sonia and Rahul. The change in the affidavit was wrong in principle for two reasons.
First, who is being killed is not immaterial to how the fake encounter case is finally decided – especially if it leads to conviction. As an analogy, let’s assume a woman is being prosecuted for the murder of her husband. Is it immaterial to let the court know that she was beaten daily and that may be the cause that led to her murdering her husband, assuming it is all provable? Similarly, in a “fake encounter”, who was killed is not an insignificant fact. The court can show leniency even if there is a conviction if it was clear that the persons killed were threats to national security.
Second, if Pillai is to be believed, there seems to have been wilful suppression of important national security aspects of the operation, Till the affidavit was changed, the Ishrat-LeT case was considered a successful Intelligence Bureau (IB) operation to lure and trap LeT terrorists, but this success was sacrificed and converted to criminality for political expediency, leading the UPA to finally target even the IB officer involved in the operation as an accused. If the country’s intelligence resources are to be compromised so casually for political purposes, the Gandhi family – or the persons acting in their interest – can indirectly be accused of sacrificing national interest in the pursuit of their political enemies.
In fact, that is really the point of this article. That the Gandhi-led UPA put an enormous amount of state and party resources to ensure that one man – Narendra Modi – was nailed and prevented from posing a challenge to the family’s political dominance, and the Ishrat Jahan affidavit change was only the most diabolical of those moves. That various non-governmental organisations, the courts and even individual journalists helped in this endeavour shows how the eco-system created by the Congress-Left political forces acts to support the dynasty’s interests.
1: The UPA appointed an illegal probe panel under UC Banerjee to examine the Godhra train fire that set off the Gujarat chain of communal riots and killings. Almost on cue, the committee leaked a report claiming the Godhra train fire was an accident. That report never saw the formal light of day, since the Nanavaty Commission, which finally confirmed there was a conspiracy to the train fire, had already been appointed to study the whole issue.
2: Goaded by various evangelical organisations and NGOs, the US government revoked a visa application by Narendra Modi to visit the US.
3: Repeated attempts were made by the UPA government to debunk the growth achievements of Gujarat under Modi, with the state’s lag in social indicators being used as a stick to beat the CM with.
4: Attempts were made using the spouse of Ehsan Jafri, killed in the Gulbarg Society fire and communal killings, to directly implicate Modi. A pliant police officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, was fished out to claim – several years after the event – that Modi had ordered the police not to intervene in the communal violence following Godhra, when he was not even present at the relevant meeting, with no one corroborating his presence. Bhatt’s wife later fought an election with Congress support, and lost miserably.
5: The Ishrat Jahan case fitted into this pattern of politicians using state power to target one man. The IB was compromised, state police personnel spent years in jail, and the Gujarat police maligned for a fake encounter that was picked out of several hundred such encounter cases all over the country in order to get Modi. That top politicians in the Congress party made a decision to keep mention of the LeT out of the fake encounter affidavit shows this could not have happened without the Gandhis wanting it. Why would a Chidambaram want to intervene in a random encounter case when he showed no such interest in several other cases? Only the Gujarat encounters mattered, and common sense tells us why.
6: Even while this ammo was being readied, the Congress party came up with another weapon to target Modi – the Communal Violence Bill. The main purpose of the bill was to clearly demarcate the majority community as the likely perpetrators of communal violence, and its most mischievous proposals were two – one, to bring a communally targeted zone out of state government control, and two, to stick a “command responsibility” blame on the political leadership whenever a communal situation occurred.
7: Post the Gujarat 2012 election, when it became clear that Modi would be the obvious prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, the Congress got Afzal Guru hanged – not without reason – but with the explicit purpose of showing it could be tougher than Modi in hanging anti-nationals. In doing so, it did not even follow the elementary courtesy of notifying Guru’s family that he was to be hanged and buried in Tihar jail. A month before the Gujarat election, Ajmal Kasab, one of the 26/11 jihadis, was hanged just to prove the Congress’ macho nationalism. All subsequent hangings, of Sikh and Tamil terrorists responsible for the murders of a former Punjab CM and Rajiv Gandhi, were put off based on political pressures from the states concerned. This shows that the purpose of the hangings of Kasab and Guru was to show up Modi, and not justice. However, most leaders of the Congress claimed they were against capital punishment once these two terrorists were executed.
8: After Modi formally became PM candidate, two other scandals were dusted up. One was an alleged conversation about yet another Gujarat encounter, where there were references to safed daadi and kaali daadi (white and black beard), presumably references to Modi and Amit Shah, and another about the surveillance of a young woman by Shah, assumed to be under Modi’s instructions. Various stings by anti-BJP media outfits targeted Gujarat and the BJP.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the ways in which Modi was targeted, but merely an indicative list. The point is simple: an extraordinary amount of resources, state and private, was devoted to nailing one man when his alleged lapses were not any different from those of any other CM or political leader of his time. Clearly, it was not about ensuring justice. It was about something else, possibly the extraordinary fears of obsolescence harboured by one political dynasty.
R Jagannathan (The writer is Editorial Director, Swarajya and the write-up is originally posted on Swarajyamag.com)