डिजिटल अर्काईव्ह (2009-2020)

Both these cases show us that the people do not have full faith in the investigative system of our country. This lack of faith also translates into a lack of confidence in the Indian State as a whole. This is an extremely dangerous situation. It is possible that such a situation arose because the masses are extra-sensitive about some issues or maybe because the people at large are unaware about the internal processes & difficulties of investigative procedure. This disbelief in the system is undoubtedly a product of corrupt, inefficient & criminal behavior of the political class.

In the weeks that followed the 15th August 2018, 2 sets of actions carried out by the Police dominated the headlines. Firstly, the arrest of some individuals for their alleged involvement in the murder of Dr.Dabholkar. Those arrested in this case have definite links with Hindutva organizations. And secondly, the arrest of 5 eminent persons by the police for their alleged involvement in the violence that happened at Bhima Koregaon, Pune on the 1st of January 2018. The police also released certain letter-based correspondence, which allegedly belongs to the 5 accused, to prove the police theory of there being involvement of Naxalites in the Bhima Koregaon violence. Both these being highly sensitive issues, shockwaves were felt across the society following police action. One could observe great differences in opinions amongst intellectual circles regarding both these arrests. One popular theory was that, since the arrest of Hindutva activists in the Dabholkar murder case was causing major embarrassment for right-wing groups, the police were pressurized to make hurried arrests in the Bhima-Koregaon case, simply to divert attention from the first case. However, ‘Sadhana’ does not wish to wade into the dirty mud of speculation in either of these of cases. This is not only due to the fact that Dr.Dabholkar was the Editor of ‘Sadhana’ when he was shot dead {which makes ‘Sadhana’ a legitimate stakeholder in this case}. ‘Sadhana’ has adopted the principled stand that it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter as it is still under investigation of the CBI & sub-judice. Similarly, in the 2nd case regarding the Bhima-Koregaon violence, though there is wide speculation that the arrests in this case are mere ‘diversionary tactics’, ‘Sadhana’ feels that wouldn’t be wise to make a comment at this stage, when the police & judicial authorities are still to complete their work. Thus, instead of analyzing or commenting upon the 2 specific matters at hand, we would like to draw your attention to a larger & worrying fundamental predicament of our country.

5years ago, when Dr.Dabholkar was murdered, public opinion was largely divided into 2 groups. One group was of the opinion that considering the overall working-style & thought-process of Dr.Dabholkar, it was impossible to even believe that he had any mortal enemies. On the other hand, the 2nd group argued that since Dr.Dabholkar’s anti-superstition activism had disrupted & shut shop of so many fraud Baba’s-Tantriks-Bhagats-Astrologers & other conmen, in the process he had probably created an army of enemies. Thus, the debate amongst the Media, activists & common masses ranged from questions such as-‘Who possibly could even of thought of killing Dr.Dabholkar?’ to ‘Who exactly, amongst his various adversaries, is responsible for Dr.Dabholkar’s murder?” In most such discussions, the needle of suspicion mostly pointed towards Hindutva organizations. These suspicions were later corroborated when the arrests made in Dr.Dabholkar’s case established the unmistakable link of the accused with ultra-right-wing groups. Earlier, when the probe of Dr.Dabholkar’s case was handled by the Maharashtra state police, various teams were constituted to explore & look at all possible angles. A similar modus operandi was adopted by the CBI when the case was later transferred to it. As a result, the initial picture that emerged looked fuzzy & incoherent. The efforts taken by the police to crack this case were for all to see, but it was unclear if these efforts were well-directed or properly-oriented. Given this backdrop, one was unable to form any firm opinion on the issue. However, in this intervening period, almost all the people who this editor came across (leaving aside very few exceptions) were of the opinion that there is something fishy with the police investigation in Dr.Dabholkar’s case. This editor sensed an almost all-pervasive ‘trust-deficit’ vis-à-vis the police & an even greater lack of confidence in the State & Central Government. This ‘credibility-crisis’ was not limited to the current BJP government. A similar disapproval was expressed by the people about previous Congress-led government’s handling of the case. Infact it can be said, that there was a ‘lack of trust’ in the political class as a whole. This is a worrisome & disheartening state of affairs which makes one feel utterly helpless. As the news of arrests being made in Dr. Dabholkar’s case spread, people came up to this editor asking whether the police have “really” arrested the actual conspirators & criminals responsible for the murder.  In the midst of the investigative process, the Judiciary, on various occasions pulled up & questioned the police regarding the unusual delays & careless attitude of the investigative agencies responsible. Given the active role played by the Judiciary, one of the hypotheses which was floated was that the arrests made by the police were part of a ‘face-saving exercise’ in order to shield themselves from further embarrassment.  However, with the arrests being made just 2 days prior to Dr.Dabholkar’s 5th Death Anniversary & the confessional statements of the accused proving to be vital pieces of evidence for further progress of the probe, a positive picture began to emerge about which we can express satisfaction.

And it is in this context that the Pune police arrested 5 Left-affiliated individuals in the 8 month old Bhima-Koregaon case & alleged that violence was orchestrated as part of a ‘Naxal conspiracy’. All the 5 persons who have been arrested in this case are considered as eminent individuals working in the fields of Journalism, Law, Literature & grassroots activism. They were actively involved in the propagation of Left-wing ideas & thus their arrests expectedly raised a storm across the country. As per the general public opinion, the work of all these five individuals was perceived to be within the Constitutional framework & the permissible limits of the ‘freedom of speech & expression’. However the Pune police, which carried out multiple raids & arrests across the country, slapped cases against these 5 people, accusing them of resorting to Unconstitutional & illegal methods to carry out their agenda. Later when the police presented the 5 accused in 3 different courts, the courts spoke in one voice when they stated that police had displayed unnecessary haste in making these arrests. The courts did not stop at this & ordered that all the 5 accused by held under ‘House-Custody’ (instead of Judicial or Police custody). This was an unanimous order passed by 3 different courts- The District Sessions Court, the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court. That apart, most Media outlets & commentators accused the police of not only showing over-enthusiasm in conducting the arrests but also attributed a political motive to the police’s action. Under attack from all sides, the police in order to substantiate their case in the court of public opinion, held a press conference where they disclosed some letters, purportedly belonging to the 5 arrested persons, to push forward the police’s theory of Naxal involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence. But various questions were raised regarding the authenticity of these letters by the Media & experts. Moreover the Judiciary questioned the police’s rationale behind holding a press-conference when the matter was still sub-judice. The courts directed the police to refrain from holding similar press conferences in the future. Thus, even in the Bhima-Koregaon case, we can sense a prima-facie ‘Trust-deficit’ in the investigative process. Questions have been raised by a range of stakeholders, staring from the common masses upto the Judiciary.

Both these cases show us that the people do not have full faith in the investigative system of our country. This lack of faith also translates into a lack of confidence in the Indian State as a whole. This is an extremely dangerous situation. It is possible that such a situation arose because the masses are extra-sensitive about some issues or maybe because the people at large are unaware about the internal processes & difficulties of investigative procedure. This disbelief in the system is undoubtedly a product of corrupt, inefficient & criminal behavior of the political class. If we leave aside certain exceptions, most political parties are guilty of such malfeasance. However, it is especially true that in the last 4 years of BJP rule, at both Central & State levels, the popularity level of the government has dropped drastically. In fact, it is not only the popularity of governments but the overall trust-level in State Institutions that has fallen to a great extent. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the credibility of State Institutions has touched the rock-bottom.

This is not a good sign at all. One of the first values that a human being learns in life is to develop a sense of ‘trust’ in something or someone.  Trust is the bed-rock upon which the bond between an individual & community is sustained. And for the development of any social institutions or society as a whole, it is a pre-requisite that the levels of trust between society’s members should increase. Today, we have accepted the ‘State’ as the highest mechanism responsible for regulating all other social groupings, organizations & institutions. Just as when the credibility of a person diminishes, her/his human-ness itself diminishes, similarly when faith in state institutions is eroded, that is a signal pointing towards a crisis & long-term challenges that the State faces. Such a sorry state of affairs does not arise on its own. It is due to long-term neglect & mismanagement of State Institutions that we have reached such a deplorable situation. If the problems are long-term, the solutions which would rejuvenate the State also need to be factor in long-term considerations. Given this context, we need to think & act in a manner that results in an increase in trust & credibility of State Institutions. What is needed is a twin-pronged strategy that firstly allows Institutions to do their work & simultaneously to keep a close track of institutions. A major portion of this responsibility falls upon the class of ‘Opinion-makers’ in the society.

Thus, what is required in these 2 cases (Dr. Dabholkar’s murder case & Bhima Koregaon case) is for all sections of society to adopt a rational stance. As stated by ex-Union Home Secretary Madhav Godbole- “The police should be given the proper space & scope to do their work. At the same time the police’s work should be kept under close & constant scrutiny, so that any wrongdoing can be exposed & corrected. This is to be achieved by increasing public awareness & pressure.” The Indian Constitution should be our constant guiding light. We must always keep in mind that just as we wage a battle against the Communal & Fundamentalist forces, a violent movement such as that of the Naxalites is equally repugnant to our Constitution.

Translated By Anish Tore
Originally Published In Marathi as रसातळाला गेलेली विश्वासाहर्ता
On Date Of Issue : 15 September 2018

Tags: Anish Tore Vinod Shirsath Credibility Bhima koregaon Narendra Dabholkar Hindutva Editorial weeklysadhana Sadhanasaptahik Sadhana विकलीसाधना साधना साधनासाप्ताहिक


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