On April 18, when all the accused including Swami Aseemanand were acquitted in Mecca Masjid blast case by the NIA trial court, acrimonious debate followed. The BJP and its affiliates hailed the verdict as a vindication of their belief that the Congress was witch-hunting Hindus all these years. But the Congress and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen found the findings as flawed and accused NIA of carrying out a motivated investigation at the behest of the Narendra Modi government.
The devious aspect of Aseemanad, Sadhvi Pragya and and Army officer Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit’s trial was that the Congress trivialised their crime by giving it a ‘colour’. P Chidambaram, Union home minister in the UPA, defined their involvement in Malegaon, Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid blast cases as by-products of ‘saffron’ terrorism. It was akin to calling terrorist attacks by certain Muslims as ‘green’ terrorism and attempts by a few to convert people of different faiths to Christianity as ‘white’ terrorism. Sounds mischievous.
All communities, political parties and organisations have individuals with a convoluted mind, created by misguided beliefs, warped priorities and an insecure social and economic environment. They need to be either reformed or dealt with as criminals. Unscrupulous politicians, however, do everything to blur the distinction between the community and its delinquents for votes.
A common man with no political ambition often reacts more sensibly. During the worst days of Delhi’s Sikh riots, I was returning home with a Sikh friend in my car. A mob of miscreants suddenly blocked my car and a man menacingly approached me and shouted to hand over my friend immediately. I told him that he was indeed a Sikh but was not Satwant Singh who assassinated Mrs Gandhi. He got the message, quickly jumped in the car and led us to safety. He evidently realised that it would be immoral to punish a community for acts of its monsters.
When politicians start guiding criminal investigation for votes or out of vengeance, investigators lose objectivity. The evidences, naturally, do not stand the scrutiny of courts and the accused either get acquitted or released on bail as it happened with Purohit, Assemanand and Sadhvi Pragya. Such abuse of authority was never so brazenly practised as in UPA days. They refused to understand that if investigation was rigged, both victims and their perpetrators would be denied of justice.
UPA home ministers, Chidambaram and Shushil Kumar Shinde did not talk of ‘saffron and Hindu terrorism’ off the cuff. Since Gujarat riots of 2002, the country had witnessed a series of riots and terror attacks in which only Muslims were targeted. A perception thus emerged in the Muslim community that the Congress could not be trusted with their safety. That such a view existed, was confirmed recently by Salman Khurshid, who admitted before students at Aligarh University that hands of the Congress party had blood stains of Muslims.
The disenchantment with the Congress came out more sharply when Muslim voters migrated to BSP, SP, RJD, JD(U) etc. The Congress leadership then decided to correct this impression by fixing ‘Hindus’. The relentless pursuit of Hindu suspects in Gujarat riots, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express blast cases and encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Ishrat Jahan testifies the policy shift. The investigation of journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder was one more instance of how the Congress government in Karnataka was desperate to implicate Hindu outfits.
The Congress leaders could have still endeared themselves to Muslims. There are laws to punish a rapist, a murder and a terrorist. There are also provisions to ban organisations and prevent political parties from contesting elections. Purohit and others could have been prosecuted as terror-suspects, and the RSS and BJP banned for spreading enmity. But the Congress preferred to keep abusing these outfits and keep the issue alive.
Hopefully, the example set by the Congress to communalise terror attacks will not be followed in future. If you investigate criminal cases from the prism of a suspect’s caste, faith, colour of his skin, his Aryan and Dravidian origin and his religion, it will only divide people. Let the police, NIA and CBI do their job. The Congress has really no case to crib about their functioning. It has created these institutions and demonstrated how best they can be made to serve political interests.
Its leadership is currently busy in denting the credibility of the Parliament, judiciary, Election Commission and the CAG. They forget that time squares off all bad accounts.
Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing