Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Sleeping at Home" by Pramod Kumar and Rahul Pandita(in THE SUNDAY INDIAN)

The civil society and the media is doing its best to raise the decibel level on how a dreaded killer is roaming free.The voice somehow still doesnt seem to have reached the eternally "deaf and dumb" Indian State.One more Special report in THE SUNDAY INDIAN focussing on how criminals,terrorists have a free hand while the Home Minister finds India "too big".Here is a report by Pramod Kumar and Rahul Pandita.

Bitta Karate? The Home Ministry is clueless about this dreaded militant. But does it have a clue about anything else? Pramod Kumar and Rahul Pandita find out…
The phone rang late in the night. In two rings, Fatima picked it up. “Your son is free,” said a police officer on the other side. Next morning it was celebration time in Srinagar’s Guru Bazaar area. By afternoon, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate was at home. He was garlanded, and kisses were planted on his forehead. He had been set free after sixteen years in prison.
876 kilometres away, a distraught man watched these images beamed on his television set. For years, Ramesh Tikku had waited for justice. Sixteen years ago, his brother Satish was waylaid by Dar outside his home in Srinagar and shot dead in cold blood. Satish was Dar’s first victim. In the next few months, he would kill many innocent people – most of them Kashmiri Pandits. Some of them were gruesomely murdered in front of children and women. In a television interview soon after his arrest, Dar – a martial arts expert, hence the name Karate – had confessed killing 20 people, though many believe that the number is almost twice.
While ordering him to be released on bail, the TADA judge had remarked: “The court is aware of the fact that the allegations levelled against the accused are of serious nature and carry a punishment of death sentence or life imprisonment but the fact is that the prosecution has shown total disinterest in arguing the case, which is in complete violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.”
Meanwhile, Satish Tikku’s father died remembering his son.
Cut to 2007. It was on July 6, 2007 that a young Kashmiri activist filed an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI) with the Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking information about Bitta Karate. Among other queries, the application sought answers to following questions:
What is the total number of cases registered against Dar?
Is the bail granted to Dar of any specified time frame or is it indefinite?
What action has been taken against the State Police for what the designated judge ND Wani called “total disinterest in arguing the case?”
Is it true that the designated officer/s (both public prosecutor and police officer) on behalf of the State was/were absent on the day of final hearing of arguments in the case? If so, please explain the reasons for absence of the designated officer/s in the court on the day of final hearing of arguments in the case?
In a letter, dated July 20, 2007, the Kashmir Division of the Home Ministry replied back. The six-line reply, a copy of which is available with TSI, said: “The information you have asked for is not available in the Kashmir Division of Ministry of Home Affairs.”
How is it possible that the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is responsible for the internal security of the country, has no information about the whereabouts of a dreaded militant? Did the ministry have no wherewithal to keep a tab on a former area commander of the JKLF? Or it just didn’t care? Looking at the recent series of events, it looks like a bit of both.
After the Hyderabad blasts, when the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil was asked about whether his ministry had any prior information about the blasts, he replied, “We had some intelligence inputs, but then, you see, India is a big country.” While Patil struggles with the bigness of India, his junior minister, Sri Prakash Jaiswal parrots a readymade answer in front of media persons, after every terrorist act. In the security meeting after the Hyderabad blasts, as Jaiswal sat briefing the Prime Minister, his national security adviser, MK Narayanan expressed unhappiness about the lax attitude of the Home ministry. In response to that, Patil replied, “We have sent a strong-worded letter to the state governments.”
The Home Minister may have taken refuge in a few ‘strong-worded’ letters but it is a fact that India is bogged down by insurgency while the Home ministry has no clue about how to tackle it. In the security meeting, the issue of terrorists using the Samjahuta Express to smuggle explosives and fake currency also came up. Narayanan was also angry that the issue of terrorists using the Myanmar route to sneak into India – it was revealed by a suspect arrested after the Hyderabad blasts – has not been taken up with the Myanmar’s government. In Uttar Pradesh alone, an alert has been sounded for around 250 missing Pakistani citizens. To identify such people, living illegally in India, the ministry has released 47 crores to make I-cards for Indian citizens in 12 states and Union territories. The pilot project was supposed to be completed by July 2007 but the fact is that it is yet to take off.
For years now, security experts have been stressing upon the need for coordination between various intelligence agencies like the Intelligence Bureau and the Military Intelligence. But nothing concrete has been done so far. A senior army officer posted in Kashmir says that often various agencies don’t share information due to ego issues.
The Home Ministry claims that as compared to last year, civilian casualties in Assam have reduced by six percent while casualties among security personnel have come down by 37 percent. But, perhaps, the ministry has chosen to ignore the fact that in the last month alone, extremist group ULFA has conducted fifteen major operations in Assam, killing scores of Hindi-speaking people. It is a known fact that ULFA’s top leaders like Paresh Barua are based in Bangladesh where they run many businesses. But even after providing more than enough proofs to successive governments in Bangladesh, India has not been able to lay its hands on these leaders.
The number of naxalite-affected police stations in the country is increasing. Out of 12,476 police stations, 400 have come under the red shadow. This year till June, 209 people have died in 395 naxalite attacks. Prominent among them is the murder of JMM MP Sunil Mahato and a bid to blow up the vehicle carrying former Andhra CM, N Janardhan Reddy. MOS Home, Sri Prakash Jaiswal admits that till 2007, 1605 crores have been released for tackling naxalites in eight affected states. Says Mohammaed Salim of the CPI (M): “The naxal problem is a socio-economic problem but it is also true that the government has not done enough. Naxalites are now touching Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.”
Even an extradition treaty with Pakistan hangs in balance. The Home Ministry says it is Foreign ministry’s job. As a result, people like Dawood Ibrahim, Maulana Masood Azhar, and Abdul Karim Tunda are roaming free. And the Home Minister says that India is a big country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will not agree on it. I assume polite post. Particularly the title-deed attracted me to study the whole story.