Interview with Brinda Karat, Rajya Sabha member, CPI(M).
AMIT SHAH, Gujarat's Minister of State for Home, has resigned in view of the charges filed against him by the CBI in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, but the CPI(M) feels the investigation should continue, given the history of the Gujarat government's connivance with communal forces. Excerpts from an interview with Brinda Karat, Rajya Sabha member of the party:
What is significant about the ongoing controversy about the encounter killings in Gujarat? It has thrown up questions regarding the politician-criminal nexus and the consequences of policies pursued at the State level.
In the Sohrabuddin case, the defence put up by Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his crew lacks credibility because the initial investigation by the Gujarat CID had pointed to the involvement of top cops and raised questions about the role of political leaders. It was the Gujarat CID whose investigations revealed that the murders were encounter killings, it was not the CBI's investigation that revealed this.
And the investigation into the role of the Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, was ordered by the Supreme Court as the Gujarat CID did not take its own investigation forward, clearly because of political pressures. The evidence that is being collected by the CBI shows the involvement of the then Home Minister in this killing.
The question now is, does it end with Amit Shah's arrest or does it go further to the Chief Minister, and it is in this context that we expect the Supreme Court to ensure that there is no compromise with truth and that all those connected with the cover-up should be named and suitable action taken. The other encounter killing, of Ishrat Jahan, is a serious matter. If it is true that David Headley has named her, and if there is any credibility in the report, then the question arises that when she was in the custody of the Gujarat Police, was she not questioned? This could have had an impact on national security. They could have got vital information from her.
The CBI has charge-sheeted Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin encounter case. What portents does this have in a democratic system like ours?
It is extremely serious and it substantiates what we have been saying all along that a communal agenda, which has hijacked all democratic and parliamentary norms, as reflected in the 2002 riots against Muslims also permits and encourages other criminal activities. When one compromises on one of the basic issues in the Constitution, then that leads to and creates ample space for criminals to proliferate under state patronage; then it does not remain confined to an anti-minority agenda but includes all kinds of activities, including extortion. It is the same set of top cops and politicians who patronise killings and criminals.
Once you have a political agenda that promotes mass crimes against a community, and the same elements are promoted to cover up and commit those crimes, they will use the power they have been given for illegal activities. We have demanded that communal profiling of individuals and their illegal detentions should not take place and that the true nature of terrorist activities, including those involving Hindu terror outfits, is investigated.
The Modi government and the BJP have accused the CBI of being a political instrument of the Centre and also demanded that the case should not be shifted outside Gujarat. He has also said that it was an insult to the judiciary in the State.
The CBI is used as an instrument in numerous cases to suit the narrow political interests of the ruling party. Why has the issue of shifting the case outside the State come up in the first place? First, there are senior officials involved, which the CID investigation also showed. The communal-riot-related cases of 2002 were also shifted from Gujarat to Mumbai as the CBI felt it was not able to work freely. If the CBI is not able to work freely in Gujarat, then what about other agencies?
We need to look at some other pending cases, for instance, the case of the Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri who was murdered, where women witnesses have testified that there was pressure on them and demanded that the cases be transferred out. While Modi talks about Gujarat lawyers and the judiciary being defamed, it should also be known that there are public prosecutors in the State at least 10 of whom who had served as counsel for the defence in cases of murder and arson against minorities.