On 31st October, 8 Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists who were under trail were gunned down by police, after it was alleged that those activists had escaped the Bhopal Jail. Except that the activists were killed outside the jail, no proof was provided by Indian Police to prove that, these activists have indeed escaped from the Bhopal jail. Mysteriously the CCTV cameras at the ISO certified Bhopal jail weren’t working.
Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of India told that “This (SIMI encounter) is again the reinforcement of our confidence in the capabilities and the capacities of the (PM Narendra) Modi government at the Centre and the respective state governments”. This comment raises two very key questions:
- Did Narendra Modi Government at the Centre has given approval to the states of India to conduct Extra-Judicial Killings?
- How the un-constitutional Extra-judicial killings reinforces the confidence in Modi Government in a democratic set-up of India?
“If you Question us, then you are anti-national”
The propaganda of BJP and its supporters is that …”if you question us, then you are anti-national”. The News Media in India that has been affiliated with BJP and ring-wing establishment have been openly labelling people who are questioning the encounter as “anti-national”. Majority of the News Media has already labelled the Indian Citizens who were killed by the police as “terrorists”, even though those who were killed weren’t convicted by any of the Indian Courts.
Sushil Kumar Modi, a member of BJP and ex-Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar has tweeted:
Why Congress & so called secularists showing so much sympathy for those anti national banned SIMI activists ?
— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) 31 October 2016
Several prominent journalists in India have come out to question the narrative advocated by BJP for terming anything questioning the Encounter as Anti-National:
Does asking questions on Bhopal encounter make one anti national? I thought raising questions essence of our great democracy, no?
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) 31 October 2016
Exposing a fake encounter is not anti-national. Staying silent when you know that an encounter appears fake is what is truly anti-national.
— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) 31 October 2016
What would bhakts have made of brilliant, fearless Gargi, who repeatedly questioned powerful sage Yajnavalkya? Called her “anti national?”
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) 1 November 2016
The Unanswered Questions
Following are the some of the key questions raised after the details of the encounter emerged:
- After Escaping the Jail, why did the 8 SIMI Activists were moving together instead of spitting away in different directions?
- From where did the 8 SIMI Activists found plain clothes (jeans, shirts, t-shirts), watches and sports shoes?
- During the Jail-break, police has alleged that SIMI Activists created knifes using spoons and plates. However, during encounter, the police alleged that, they had weapons. From where did the SIMI Activists get the weapons?
- Where is the CCTV footage of the ISO Certified Bhopal jail? There are multiple CCTV cameras in the jail, however, as per the police none of the cameras are in the working condition.
- Why did the 8 SIMI Activists walk for 10-15 kilometres for next 8 hours after escaping? In 8 hours, they could have easily fled Bhopal by taking a train or a bus.
Who will Bell the Cat?
Opposition political parties, Human Right Organisations and Activists have called for Investigation in the encounter. But will the investigation be impartial? Except for judiciary, all the agencies work within the influence of BJP Government. Judiciary can’t do investigation on its own. Moreover, it’s seen in the past that, judicial reports in India only serve for the purpose of academicians and journalists. Judicial reports such as Shree Krishna Commission that oversaw the investigation of Bombay Riots of 1992-93 didn’t result in any convictions.
BJP Government is well aware that, this encounter will help them make political gains in the local state-level elections. BJP has systematically worked to increase the hate towards Muslims in India by the Hindu Majority Community. BJP is well aware that, if the terror accused Muslims in India are gunned down extra-judiciously, the majority Hindu community voters of BJP will look beyond Indian Constitution and see it as a heroic act.
The Rise of Extra Judicial Killings of Country’s Citizens
All the 8 SIMI Activists were undergoing trail in Indian Courts and were not convicted of any crimes. Of course, all the alleged crimes of these 8 SIMI Activists are extremely severe however, without the Indian courts providing their guilt, attributing them as “Terrorists” would be unconstitutional. Also, both police and Indian Courts had held these activists for more than 3 years in jail, giving enough time for the judicial due process. As per the Lawyer of the killed SIMI activists, the police had been delaying the case in the court as they didn’t have any concrete evidence against them.
India and Narendra Modi’s Government is not the only country that is indulging in the extra judicial killings of its own citizens. In recent times, several democratically elected political leaders in the world have indulged in extra judicial killings of their own citizens. The justification to crime varies from country to country, but due to mob-like public support, these political leaders are getting away. Some recent examples are:
- On September 30th 2011, an American drone killed Anwar Al-Awlaki and his son “Samir Khan”, both American citizens, who have not been convicted by American Courts. However President of United States Barack Obama suspended the rights of Anwar Al-Awlaki and killed in the drone attack. His son, who mistakenly killed in another drone attack.
- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte won the 2016 Philippines elections with the promise that, he would eliminate the drug menace in the country. Since coming to power, 4737 Pilipino Citizens have been killed in the Drug War extra-judicially by Police and vigilantes. Duterte’s government believes that, every drug seller is a criminal and need to be killed. With the public support, Duterte has been able to circumvent the due judicial process and has been openly supporting the extra-judicial killing of people.