The nation was recently witness to an extraordinary and stunning revelation by a top-ranking former bureaucrat that the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had compromised the country’s security in 2009, just to defame and besmirch the image of Mr Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat, after it realised that its leaders were absolutely no match to his growing popularity.
While it is well-known that Congress was always hard on nationalists and soft on terrorists, it is unimaginable that it would go to the extent of jeopardising the nation’s security for targeting a single individual and even mislead the judiciary in the process.
This foul and diabolical game-plan of the UPA regime was exposed by none other than former Home Secretary GK Pillai, who revealed that the affidavit describing Ishrat Jehan and Javed Ghulam Sheikh as terrorists was changed after a decision to that effect was taken at the highest political level.
However, this wicked deed of the Congress-led UPA government got drowned in the cacophony of other developments with the media also not giving the importance it deserved in view of the grave implications for the nation’s security and the misuse of independent investigating agencies like the CBI and IB for political ends. Terrorism has no religion, but the Congress always believed in and practised vote-bank politics and showed no qualms in weakening the essential pillars of a democratic polity like an independent judiciary and various constitutional bodies. History is replete with such instances of Congress antics — be it the Shah Bano case, abolition of Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) or the manner in which Bhindranwale was initially encouraged and supported and later condemned, forcing the government to send the Army into the Golden Temple.
Just to jog one’s memory, it is worth pointing out that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in 2004 had unravelled a diabolical plot hatched by Lakshar-e-Toiba to create havoc in the country by killing important leaders. The terrorist organisation also planned to assassinate Mr Narendra Modi, who was chief minister of Gujarat at that time. It was confirmed by the IB and the Crime Branch that four of those behind the plot were terrorists. Subsequently, the Union Home Ministry in an affidavit filed in 2009 submitted that Ishrat Jehan and Javed Ghulam Sheikh were terrorists, even as the LeT website claimed the former to be a martyr. Two months later, another affidavit was filed contradicting the previous stand and a chargesheet was filed through the CBI against Gujarat police and the IB. In the wake of the former Home Secretary’s exposure of the sinister conspiracy executed during the UPA regime, the statement of the Mumbai blast accused David Coleman Headley that Ishrat was a terrorist clearly acquires greater credibility.
This certainly was not the only instance when the Congress acted in a manner detrimental to national interests and compromised the nation’s security for vote-bank politics. Soon after the Batla House encounter in which one inspector was martyred and two terrorists were killed, the Congress went to town saying it was a fake encounter till the Delhi High Court stepped in and set the record straight. However, four years later, Congress leader Salman Khurshid was again at it and tried to use the incident for garnering votes of the minorities by saying that Congress president Sonia Gandhi was saddened by the encounter.
And falling into the pattern of Congress’ divisive politics is the latest statement of former Home Minister, Mr P Chidambaram, who faulted the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and virtually questioned the wisdom of the Supreme Court by saying “…perhaps, Afzal Guru’s hanging was not correctly decided” and that there were grave doubts over the extent of his involvement. Mr Chidambaram had the gumption to make such an illogical observation after the highest court of the land found the incident to be rarest of the rare in nature. The verdict of the Supreme Court reads, “… The gravity of the crime… is something which cannot be described in words. The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender. The challenge to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India… can only be compensated by giving the maximum punishment… The appellant, who is a surrendered militant and who was bent upon repeating the acts of treason against the nation, is a menace to the society and his life should become extinct. Accordingly, we uphold the death sentence.” It might not be out of context to mention here that eminent jurist, MrSoli Sorabjee had stated that the next logical course after the rejection of mercy petition had been taken in the aftermath of Afzal Guru’s hanging.
In fact, another former Home Secretary pointed out that Mr Chidambaram never recommended clemency to Afzal Guru as he never saw scope for it. On the other hand, he approved the file and sent it to the President of India. The former Home Secretary averred that Mr Chidambaram should have made a mention on the file if he had entertained any doubts at that point of time. Apparently, Mr Chidambaram is trying to be the champion of minorities by resorting to cheap political gimmicks with scant respect to judiciary.
The Congress leader’s statement that minorities are unsafe in the country shows that the Congress is back to its old game and is acting in a systematic manner to create a fear psychosis among minorities. Such statements by a former Home Minister and other Congress leaders would embolden anti-national elements and destroy the social fabric of the country. The time has come for Mr Chidambaram and his ilk to realise that it is the Congress which is facing an existential crisis and feeling insecure and not the minorities.
Finally, the Congress Party owes an explanation and an apology to the nation on the issues of Ishrat Jehan and Afzal Guru, especially in the light of the damming revelations by Mr Pillai and the uncharitable and highly irresponsible remarks of Mr Chidambaram. The people of the country have a right to know the true stand of the Congress on the two issues.
The author is Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs.