If there is terror, it has to be a Muslim. If he is a Muslim, he has to be from the IM #minorityrights


 

Nothing Learnt
If there is terror, it has to be a Muslim. If he is a Muslim, he has to be from the IM. If it is the IM, it must have acted at the instance of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)
B. RAMAN, outlook
It is less than 48 hours since the two blasts in the Dilsukhnagar area of Hyderabad on the evening of February 21, 2013, resulted in the death of 16 innocent civilians.
The police and the intelligence agencies are still in the preliminary stages of the investigation. They have not yet done a reconstruction of the act of terrorism. The collection and examination of the forensic evidence have not yet been completed .No arrests and interrogation have been made yet.

Instead of waiting till the investigation makes substantial progress, the police and the agencies, with the help of sensation-hungry media, have already started pointing the finger at the Muslim community, the Indian Mujahideen and Pakistan.

If there is terror, it has to be a Muslim. If he is a Muslim, he has to be from the IM. If it is the IM, it must have acted at the instance of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). That seems to be the thinking reflex of the police and the agencies.

In October last, according to the Delhi Police, a Muslim suspect belonging to the IM told them during his interrogation that the IM had recced the Dilsukhnagar area as a possible target. From this, one could have reasonable suspicion that the IM might have carried out the attack. To strengthen the suspicion, one must have additional evidence which has not been forthcoming till now. Despite this, the police and the agencies in their mind have already  turned the suspicion into certainty. Almost the entire investigation is now focused on the IM, overlooking other possibilities.

One cannot think of a more unprofessional way of dealing with terrorism. Very often, our initial hasty conclusions remain unproved or uncorroborated. That is why the investigation of so many of our terrorism cases  has reached a dead end. Many of the cases  remain undetected or unprosecuted or unsuccessful even if prosecuted.

After every few months, we are taken by surprise by a new act of terrorism because we didn’t investigate professionally the previous acts of terrorism. Our track record has been one of hurtling from one hasty conclusion to another.

Instead of learning lessons from the past, we continue repeating the same mistakes. Imprecise intelligence, alerts not followed up by ground action to strengthen physical security, lack of beat patrolling by the police despite our talking about it for years, absence of professional reconstruction of an act of terrorism to determine how the terrorists managed to succeed, cover-up of the sins of commission and omission of our police and agencies–that has been our track record. Unless we get out of this unprofessional rut, terrorists will continue to strike with impunity and innocent civilians will continue to die.


B. Raman is Additional Secretary (Retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies

 

#India- Shocking case of miscarriage of justice


Wanton Lawlessness, Outlook
The Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case of 1996 shows horrendous police culpability — if the court had not noticed the ‘casualness and slipshod approach’ of the police, three persons might have been wrongly executed by the state

Instances of miscarriage of justice are many in India. Sometimes, such instances arise due to gross negligence by the police in the investigation. Sometimes, due to wanton fabrication of evidence and violation of the legal procedures to be followed during the investigation.

Such instances continue to take place and even increase in number because of the lack of fear in the police officers that action might be taken against them for miscarriages of justice caused by negligence or mala fide actions or inaction.

There has been a worrisome increase in the number of such cases ever since terrorism made its appearance in the early 1980s.Calls for ruthless action against terrorists and zero tolerance of terrorism have unfortunately created an impression in the minds of sections of police officers that any methods are good methods for dealing with terrorists and terrorism. Political tolerance of the use of illegal methods in dealing with terrorists has added to the belief that the police can take liberties with the law and procedures while dealing with terrorism.

One has to be firm and ruthless under the law in dealing with terrorists, but one cannot go beyond the law in dealing with them. One has to use the might of the law against them, but one cannot use illegal methods and procedures during the investigation. Use of such methods and procedures prove counter-productive.

Since many of the acts of terrorism committed in India are by jihadis, innocent Muslims have often been the victims of mala fide investigation. Instead of controlling terrorism, it aggravates it by adding to the anger in the Muslim community against the police and other investigating agencies. It becomes a vicious circle. The more illegal the methods used by the police, the more the terrorism. The more the terrorism, the more illegal the methods used by the police.

A shocking instance of such wrongful action and miscarriage of justice has been brought to notice after 16 years by a Division Bench of Delhi consisting of Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice G.P.Mittal. In a judgement delivered on November 22, 2012, it has acquitted two Kashmiri Muslim convicts who had been awarded death penalty by the trial court in a case relating to an explosion in the Lajpat Nagar Market of New Delhi in 1996 in which 13 persons were killed. Another convict’s sentence was reduced to life term.

It is a horrendous case because if the court had not noticed the wanton miscarriage of justice by the police, three persons might have been executed by the state on the basis of evidence of questionable value and authenticity. It was not a case of the police unconsciously using such evidence, but wantonly using such evidence in full knowledge of its lack of authenticity in order to obtain a conviction.

The judgement has said: “Police have not maintained minimum standard of probe in the case, test identification parade (TIP) was not conducted, statements of vital witnesses were not recorded. There was also absence of (police) daily diary entry in the case.” The court has observed that there was casualness in the investigation of the case.

While we have taken many steps to improve the quality of intelligence collection and physical security, we have not succeeded in improving the quality of investigation. This has had two results. Firstly, an increasing number of undetected cases. Secondly, instances of the use of wrongful methods and miscarriage of justice in cases which are claimed to have been successfully detected.

After the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, the government had set up the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to improve the quality of investigation. Despite this, the number of undetected cases has been increasing. This judgement has drawn our attention to a serious case of miscarriage of justice due to bad investigation in the year 1996– sixteen years later. One does not know how many more such instances remain unnoticed or undetected during the prosecution and trial.

It is important for the government to go into this and take corrective action to prevent a recurrence of such instances. There is a need to improve not only the quality of the investigation, but also the quality of the supervision over the investigation by senior officers.


B. Raman  is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter @SORBONNE75)