Barring BJP MP Shahnawaz Hussain, who slammed the UPA government for turning India into a “soft state”, the majority of participants focused on the growing number of fake encounters and on the rise of Naxal violence. The situation in Jammu-Kashmir and in the northeastern states, which usually are the highlights in any discussion on Home affairs, got overshadowed by these new concerns.
Hussain, who initiated the discussion, lashed out against moves to cut down the number of troops in the Kashmir Valley and reiterated his party's well-known position that the scrapping of POTA had led to a spurt in terrorist activity in the country. He was countered by Madhusudan Mistry (Congress) who pointed out that the attack on Parliament in December 2001 and on Akshardham Temple had taken place when POTA was in operation. Mistry also stressed on the fact that in the name of fighting terrorism, attacks on minorities were on the rise in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and their complaints were often not registered by the police. Demanding a CBI inquiry into the fake encounter that led to the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and the suspected murder of his wife Kausar Bi, Mistry said as many as 21 such fake encounters had taken place in Gujarat so far, of which 10 had taken place under the DIG who has been named in the Sheikh killing.
Ramji Lal Suman (SP), Md Salim (CPI-M), Girdhari Yadav (RJD) and Ilyas Azmi (BSP) also spoke out strongly against the spate of fake encounters taking place. Suman pointed out that by branding innocent people as “terrorists” and then killing them in fake encounters, the law and order machinery was in danger of producing real terrorists. Azmi did not confine his attack to Gujarat alone. In an impassioned speech, he said the practice of picking up Muslim youth and branding them LeT or JeM operatives was widespread not just in Gujarat but in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra as well. While the Congress was vocal about Gujarat, they were silent about neighbouring Maharashtra “where the maximum number of Muslims are being killed,” the BSP MP said. Salim mocked at Shahnawaz Hussain's description of India as a “soft state” and said in the long run, India's traditions of tolerance and dialogue were the only way to win the battle against terrorism. Naxalite violence was another key area of concern. Suresh Prabhu (Shiv Sena) said in order to tackle the growth of Naxalism, attention must be paid to governance, employment, rural development and raising standards of living.
Johri Report Throws up Names of Two More IPS Officers
Two more Gujarat cadre IPS officers – E Radhakrishna and Vipul Aggrawal – and some Andhra Pradesh Police personnel are likely to be questioned by investigators in connection with the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.
According to the fourth part of Gujarat IGP (CID) Geetha Johri's interim report, before abducting Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bibi from a Hyderabad-Sangli bus, a team led by SP Rajkumar Pandian reportedly spent two days in Hyderabad. Instead of meeting then Police Commissioner A K Mohanty, Pandian met former Gandhinagar SP, E Radhakrishna, who was deputed as Deputy Inspector General of Police, CRPF, Hyderabad. Johri's report said that on November 20, 2005, inspector N H Dabhi, constable Santram Sharma, drivers K Jadeja and Gurdial Singh left Ahmedabad in a Qualis and reached Hyderabad at 8 pm the next day. From there Dabhi called Pandian and then reached the official residence of Radhakrishna, where Pandian was already waiting. There is no further mention of Radhakrishna. Banaskantha SP Vipul Aggrawal's name appears in the second part of the report, which quotes extensively from the petition of Rubabuddin Sheikh, Sohrabuddin's brother. Here too the report is mum on the exact role that Aggrawal played in the whole affair following a phone call from Dinesh Kumar. The two main witnesses in the Johri report, armed police constable Ajay Parmar and head constable Gurdial Singh Jaat, mention involvement of Andhra Pradesh policemen, paving the way for their questioning. Much, however, would depend on how far Rajnish Rai, DIG (CID), who is investigating the case, is willing to go. On March 7 this year, three months behind his batch mates, he was promoted as DIG and posted to CID (Crime), Gandhinagar. Two days later, he was handed the Sohrabuddin case.