Courtesy: Simon de Trey-White
It is sad and tragic, that a country, drooling on the possibility of becoming an economic powerhouse, reasonably secure in being a functional democracy, at least electorally (never mind that gross issues of a diversity deficit exists under-representation in institutions of governance and social and economic disparities stare us in the face) has Regime that sees peace-building and justice as a threat to national security. That, in a sense, is what the Regime in Delhi, guided by the inherently anti-Constitutional worldview, is all about.
On 14-15 July of this year, we were subjected to a knock at our door, family and staff subjected to 22 hours of humiliation when on June 30, 2015 we had ourselves written to the CBI, offering full cooperation in the case being made out against us. When news of the FIR being filed reached the newspapers (July 8) we again wrote to the CBI but there was only a stony silence.
Industry, Impartiality and Integrity, is the motto and vision of this Central agency, that at one time enjoyed some degree of respectability for its professionalism. If it was a ‘caged parrot’ for the opposition when criminal cases were lodged and a charge sheet filed against a minister in Gujarat (MOS Home) who is now the president of the ruling party at the Centre, it remains a ‘caged parrot’ today when first, it does not challenge the discharge of the same powerful politician in the extra-judicial killings in Gujarat, but worse, goes out of its way to do anything to restrain us (me) from physical presence in the Gujarat High Court to ensure justice to the Survivors of 2002.
To quote from the FIR registered by the CBI, Sabrang Communications (SCPPL)'s activities constitute an "interference towards the internal security of India'', "prejudicially affect(ing).. harmony between communities". What are those activities? As listed in the same FIR, they are to "organise public meetings for peace", "educate lawyers on misuse of criminal law", "create strong civil society voices … to engender peace", and "media advocacy on sensitive reporting on communities ". In its opposition to our anticipatory bail application, the CBI went a step further asking that the court deny her and the others bail on grounds that there is a “deep seated conspiracy” which can only be established by “sustained custodial interrogation” in isolation. Despite the fact that we have appeared for four consecutive days recording our statements before the CBI, the agency is telling the media (Telegraph, July 22, 2015) that they are hell bent on arresting us!!
Despite the fact that we wrote to the CBI on June 30, 2015 (letters to Joint Director, CBI Rajeev Sharma and all five offices of the EOW, including the Mumbai office that is now recording our statement every day since July 18, 2015), the CBI abusing due process under section 93 of the Code of Criminal procedure that details “When a Search Warrant may be issued.” The Section reads, Section 93 (1) (a) where any court has reason to believe that a person to whom a summons or order under section 91 or a requisition under sub-section (1) of section 92 has been, or might be, addressed, will not or would not produce the document or thing as required by such summons or requisition, ….” When we had ourselves offered full cooperation, when the matter under investigation is all a matter pf documentary evidence, where is the question of raid, search or detention?
Within days of the ignominious search, that was simply an exercise in humiliation and intimidation, we applied not only for anticipatory bail but also to the Magistrate that gave the CBI the Search Warrant pointing out how the Court has been misled by the CBI. This abuse of process must be stopped.
Why do you think that the CBI wants custodial interrogation, that too in isolation? Are they being guided by His Master’s Voice, the department that controls their functioning? Under the new dispensation in Delhi, key officers have been shifted into the CBI. First www.scroll.in reported earlier this month that Arun Kumar Sharma (Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch Ahmedabad) was aggressively placed within the Central Bureau to carry out the Regime’s dirty work. Who is he? Arun Kumar Sharma's name has been associated with the Ishrat Jahan encounter killing as well as Snoopgate. The media reported that it is none less than the prime minister with the broad chest.that wants to hand over the sensitive policy making division to this officer with a controversial past. While the present CBI director Anil Sinha, who is opposed to the idea, on legitimate grounds that a CBI officer with some experience needs to handle this post, it is a matter of time before a vindictive regime gets its men in place.
“It is sad and tragic, that a country, drooling on the possibility of becoming an economic powerhouse, reasonably secure in being a functional democracy, at least electorally (never mind that gross issues of a diversity deficit exists under-representation in institutions of governance and social and economic disparities stare us in the face) has Regime that sees peace-building and justice as a threat to national security.”
Is this move by the PMO an attempt to establish a direct channel with the supposedly autonomous investigative agency? Why is it critical for him to have the CBI under his direct control?
Sharma’s name is infamous. It had first appeared on a CD purporting to contain details of discussions between top Gujarat leaders and police officials to derail the investigations into the Gujarat police killing of Mumbai college student Ishrat Jahan in 2004. They claimed that she and the three men shot dead with her were on their way to Gujarat to kill Modi. The CD, which was submitted to the CBI by chargesheeted police officer GL Singhal, contained details of a meeting between Modi’s personal secretary GC Murmu, Sharma and a few other Gujarat ministers and policemen. Sharma also featured in the claimed operation to illegally snoop on a young woman architect from Bangalore in 2009. The snooping had reportedly been ordered by minister of state for home Amit Shah for his “saheb”. Neither Amit Shah nor any of the police officials involved in the snooping operation has come out to explain who this “saheb” is.
Sharma’s name also figures in the Zakia Jafri Case, as he was in a key position in the police hierarchy when the travel log book that Sanjiv Bhatt’s driver submitted to the police headquarters –that could possibly validate his driving to the chief minister’s residence in Gandhinagar — suddenly went missing and was destroyed. It is no wonder that Sharma is so precious to the PMO and vice versa.
In a more recent report in the Outlook magazine, there are suggestions of eve more sinister tampering with the CBI. If Sharma has been pointedly brought in as joint director at “India’s premier investigation agency” in the last two months, Y.C. Modi another officer precious to this regime has been inducted as additional director.
Belonging to the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, Y.C. Modi was part of the CBI team which investigated the Haren Pandya murder case. CBI was brought in post haste into the investigation within days of the killing of Pandya. Then it was deputy prime minister LK Advani in the first NDA government (March 2003) who had swiftly ordered the transfer. Pandya, a former revenue minister of Gujarat and a political rival of Narendra Modi, was gunned down in a park in Gandhinagar by alleged extremists in 2003. Pandya’s family, however, pointed fingers elsewhere and accused the CBI of derailing the investigation. They went further, even pointing to high level political vendetta behind the killing. The Gujarat High Court in 2011 acquitted 12 persons in the Pandya murder case and criticised the CBI for a “botched-up and blinkered investigation”. The judgement went on to these scathing words: “The investigating officers concerned ought to be held accountable for their ineptitude resulting in injustice, huge harassment of many persons concerned and enormous waste of public resources and time of the courts”. Instead of holding them accountable, they are being rewarded !!!
While the sangh parivar and BJP are shrill in demanding the re-patriation of Dawood Ibrahim to Indian soil, the ruling party and its affiliates are strangely silent about demanding the return, to India, of accused no 1. Mufti Sufiyan in the Haren Pandya murder, despite an international red collar notice against him.. Haren Pandya and his family were long associated with the sangh. Yet, Haren Pandya had the conscience to depose before Justices P.B.Sawant, Justice Hosbet Suresh, and KG Kannabiran about the ignominious instructions given to the police leadership on the night of February 27, 2002.
YC Modi performed another historic task. Despite botching up the Pandya murder probe, he was inducted into the Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former CBI director R.K. Raghavan to investigate the Gujarat riots. Giving a clean chit to the then Gujarat CM, the SIT felt that though there were serious irregularities in governance, these was not enough evidence to charge sheet the then chief minister and 59 others. The amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, was not convinced. After meeting members of the SIT, including Y.C. Modi, Ramachandran asked whether the SIT could ignore the fact that two cabinet ministers were positioned in the control room but claim to have given no instructions during the rioting. Ramachandran also asked whether the SIT was entirely right in dismissing the deposition of Sanjeev Bhatt, IPS, who claimed to have been present at a meeting when the chief minister was said to have given the oral instructions.It is for these significant roles, in the past, that crucial officers are being positioned in the CBI. Is it any coincidence then that only after their induction, is this agency being unleashed upon us, for reasons of pure political vendetta? With the huge support of millions of Indians, we will still be present in Gujarat and make forceful arguments in the Zakia Jafri case on Monday 27 2015. If prevented, our lawyers will also not let the case go by without being properly defended.
A version of this appeared as the author’s weekly column in the daily, Rashtriya Sahara