The much-awaited Batla encounter verdict has come with the sessions court holding the suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) militant, Shahzad Ahmed, guilty of the murder of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who was killed during the encounter on September 19, 2008.
A lot of dust had been kicked by the politicians of the day, alleging that it was a fake encounter and that Inspector Sharma had probably been killed in crossfiring by the police. An NGO approached the Delhi High Court for a judicial probe into the shoot-out. The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice A P Shah went into the details of the encounter; it examined the layout of Batla House flat and the sequence of events. The court ultimately came to the conclusion that there was nothing hanky-panky in the police operation, though it faulted the Delhi government for not conducting a magisterial enquiry into the incident.
Later, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also conducted investigation and gave clean chit to the Delhi Police. The NHRC found no reason to suspect or discredit the police theory.
The court verdict was actually the third confirmation of Batla encounter’s genuineness. As recorded by the court, from the “post-mortem report, it is evident that all injuries found on him were in the front, there was no injury on the posterior” and it was therefore clear that Sharma had “suffered bullet injuries on being fired by the occupants of the flats and not by members of raiding party”.
It is distressing that even now there are people expressing doubts over the role of the police. Actually, there is an orchestrated campaign to vilify the police and criticise it even when it is facing extremely difficult situations like combating the terrorists. Politics is the essence of democracy, but this politics should be played within limits only. Unfortunately, all red lines are being crossed and the politicians do not show any compunction in running down the law enforcement agencies.
What is worse, leaders of the ruling party have even expressed doubts over the existence of IM. An important minister of the Central government came up with a fantastic statement that in the perception of the majority of Muslims, IM did not exist. Earlier, another leader said IM’s formation was a direct consequence of the Gujarat riots of 2002. The Congress would appear to be playing its minority card in a manner which would only vitiate the atmosphere and sharpen the communal divide.
The fact is, the Pakistan ISI, as a tactical move, decided on the formation of IM so that they could deny their own involvement and yet spread jihadi ideology and activities in India through homegrown militants, aided, abetted and calibrated from across the border. There were multiple attacks by IM in 2008 at different places across the country—in Rampur, Jaipur, Bangalore and New Delhi. The outfit has been receiving generous financial assistance from the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Riyadh and maintains close links with the International Islamic Federation of Students’ Organisation in Kuwait.
Government of India banned IM in June 2010. The US placed it on its list of terrorist organisations in September 2011 with the State Department acknowledging that the group had engaged in several terrorist attacks in India and had regional aspirations with the ultimate aim of creating an Islamic caliphate across South Asia. The UK also banned it on the ground that it aimed at creating an Islamic state in India by the use of indiscriminate violence.
Sample this venomous text from an IM message: “We call you, O Hindus, O enemies of Allah, to take an honest stance with yourselves lest another attack of Ibn-e-Qasim sends shivers down your spines, lest another Ghauri shakes your foundations, and lest another Ghaznawi massacres you, proving your blood to be the cheapest of all mankind!” The apologists of IM may, of course, say it is a fabrication. But those concerned with maintaining national security know that IM is a real threat and that its potential for mischief has to be taken seriously. When would our politicians stop playing politics with terror?