Friday, 14 June 2013

2011-03-21 Letter to Mohanlal on Encounter

My Dear Mohanlalji,

My question wise answers are given below. Do contact me if there is any clarification required.

Terrorism can be defined as a means or as a way of achieving an overt or covert, legal or illegal objective through use of terror or fear complex on the targeted section of population or authorities. I was part of police setup from 1971 to 2007. My experience/perception  is that whenever the officials viz. police functionaries and civil administration deviates from their constitutionally bound responsibilities and duties for their selfish, corrupt, careerist, unethical and perverted interests, the victims of their actions experience state terrorism, proportionate to the depth and extent of coercion through state machinery.

In my view denial of legitimate benefits to the have- nots in the Indian population, who are really the wretched of the earth, due to corruption and alack of integrity of the functionaries of the state and central Governments, facilitated by the nexus of greedy politicians, bureaucrats and criminals, shall be deemed as milder and cold state terrorism. Of course, killing, injuring or damaging property of innocents remain the worst display of State terrorism. The Central Government has recently admitted that (during the annual DGP conference) nearly 175 to 200 districts in the country, mostly in the tribal belt of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal are under the substantial hold of the naxalites. How the left extremist leaders, still holding on to the historically fossilized Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, could succeed to bring thousands of tribals, known for their rustic straight forward disposition and simple way of life, under the grip of naxalism and organize units of “Liberation army” from them? The answer lies in the fact that those rural people are denied the fruits of basic development and a simple infrastructural support, despite claims of government agencies about success of their tribal specific backward area projects. In my view the clientele of the naxalites are the victims of state terrorism.

In 1992 while I was in IB in Delhi, I was sent to Hyderabad for assisting Andhra Police which arrested a few leaders of the powerful naxalite party called CPML (Peoples War Group/ PWG). During their interrogation, while revealing reasons for joining the armed squad (Dalam) of PWG one semi literate tribal gentleman gave an agonizing story. He was a daily wager without much cultivable land and his wife was suffering from ill health and malnutrition. His first child died due to the want of milk because the goat, the only source of milk to his suckling child was forcefully taken away by local police constable for feeding his guest. Soon after the child's death both he and his wife joined the naxalites and later he became a Dalam leader, acquiring proficiency in the use of fire arms.

India has deprived sections, illiterate, inarticulate, and neglected by their own political leadership. These people are the victims of government functionaries, at the cutting edge level, particularly employed in the primary units of governmental functions, such as police stations, taluk revenue office, units of labour, development, public works, irrigation, health etc departments. On account of the perverted sub culture of middle and senior level functionaries, particularly IAS/ IPS officers (even those drawn from socially economically backward classes) to become yes-men and sycophants of politicians, who have no empathy for or commitment to the needs and plight of the unorganized and exploited people, constituting the lowest base of the Indian social pyramid and this callous administrative ambience, maintained by the bureaucracy ensures continuance of State terrorism.    Who will control, contain and discipline policeman, village revenue officer, school teacher, PWD overseer, health official etc who not only will misappropriate money meant for the poor but also extract free labour, loot them, misuse their women etc for their own sake and their bosses. Is the mighty Indian State helpless before these mini Ravanas at ground level?

I can quote many instances of government functionaries behaving as occupation army in a foreign country with the population in their jurisdiction, particularly in tribal belt.  Whenever and wherever possible I did effectively intervene to remedy the maladies. While I was the superintendent of Bhavnagar district in 1975 there was an instance of extreme torture resorted to by a landlord in Palitana police station area, on a few farm workers, as the latter asked for more wages. To save himself from police action the landlord lodged a complaint of theft against the workers and brought pressure on me from higher ups to get the workers arrested. But I did effectively intervene and registered a case of causing grievous hurt under section 326 IPC against the landlord and arrested him. This action was one of the reasons from my transfer out of Bhavnagar district within eight months of my tenure there.

Atrocities and excesses by police, paramilitary units like CRPF and armed forces are symptomatic expression of the mind set of the administration and so are truly illustrative of state terrorism. Often fake encounters (in Gujarat from Oct 2002 to April 2007, the time of arrest of police officers, saw many fake encounters), extensive violence on residents of any area, who opposed the Government policies (Nandigram, Singrur –WB, Dantewada-Chattisgarh) numerous theaters of anti-naxalite operations in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand etc)  excesses on a community as part of normalization efforts (Punjab anti-Sikh terrorism actions) protracted riots with tacit support of the state administration (1984 anti-Sikh riots, 2002 Gujarat riots) etc can never be deemed as stray incidents, being the handiwork of a few over-zealous officers, devoid of state support. Could the state administration fail to monitor the prolonged violence despite the advantage of the swift communication technology, well structured reporting system and media coverage and claim to be innocent spectator?

To a large extent IB and RAW  workers function  professionally and report the truth but over emphasis on petty adhocist objective of ruling parties result in agencies going for collection of political intelligence relevant to the party interests, largely on account of the selfish ambitions of the head of agencies. Pleas note that nearly a dozen former IB directors became governors, though practically none of them is known to be talented and performed better than numerous Director Generals of Police in states, who bear the brunt of challenges to maintenance of public order. Solution lies in enactment of laws delineating the charter of duties of IB and RAW and formulation of a regular monitory mechanism to evaluate the cost effectiveness of each project undertaken by these agencies, without going into the mechanics and rules of intelligence operations. Will any political party in India look beyond the needs of power politics and emulate the lofty traditions of over 75 democratic nations of the world, including USA, UK Australia and France etc and venture to  bring intelligence agencies under the clutches of codified wisdom of laws?

IB's excellent intelligence coverage and supply of advance real time actionable intelligence on Sikkim prevented this strategic territory becoming an independent nation under the suzerainty of the western powers. The containment of insurgency in north eastern states, particularly in Nagaland and Mizoram is another instance of laudable IB work. Near total eradication of Sikh terrorism is worth noting. IB's prognostic intelligence has helped executive police to prevent many untoward incidents throughout India but due to code of secrecy and requirement of protecting “IB assets” these cannot be uncovered.

Coming to Kerala , IB played a very decisive role in solving the Hindu Christian dispute over building of a cemetery in Kottayam district in 1997, arrest of Abdul Nasser Madani, those responsible for detention of Palghat collector, assessing the rise of PDP, Popular Front etc. IB Kerala unit was also successful in countering efforts of foreign countries to recruit their agents in defense services.

Personal manning Agencies are drawn from the Indian society and so all vices in the human resources of our society, on account of erosion of values, unbridled consumerism, tendency to place self before everything etc are affecting persons in agencies also. Recruitment in IB is quite fair and transparent but process for entry to RAW is not well known.

The prerogative of the right or wrong use of information supplied by agencies is left to the political bosses particularly the State and Union home minister. There could be use misuse and abuse of the information for disinformation, destabilization of opponent groups and also neutralization of anti-national elements.

Rajan case and murder of Varghese are illustrative of state terrorism, unleashed in the form of anti-naxalite operations. Thanks to the agility of public opinion in Kerala, alacrity of media, integrity of judiciary, high political awareness etc, those responsible for these excesses had to face legal consequences for their crimes.

Extra judicial killings are fake encounters, as a strategy for swift but illegal remedy to a burgeoning law and order problem is decided at the highest political level of the government. The leaders resorted to this temporary, often popular but illegal solution to stem the tide of anti-governmental mood spreading among the electorate. Once state leadership decides to resort to such short cut elimination methods, it can easily get services of self serving careerist sadist police officers and bureaucrats for implementing their unholy agenda and as quid-pro-quo those officials get lucrative plum postings. As in Gujarat in 2002 and 2007 elections, there was popular support to the pathology of illegal elimination of enemies to public order and political parties who adopted these methods were generally voted back to power.

It is quite shameful that once our Union Home Minister had even expressed about the need for the use of Air Force to destroy bases of naxalites. Please note that even the British did not use Air Force to quell violent terrorist movement during the freedom struggle.

The hold of naxalites in different areas of tribal India is not uniform so unilateral use of force to reclaim the area by the Administration is suicidal and counter productive. Naxalites proceed systematically and classify/ places of  Indian socio political terrain under various stages/ phases. They are 1) survey and identification of contradiction stage, 2) Indoctrination of victims of exploitation, 3) Grievances redressal through overt action, 4) Formation of front organizations by mobilizing farmers, students workers etc., 5) Enrollment of regular cadres and their empowerment through arms and training, 6) Enforcement of “People Justice” by punishing the class enemy through violence, 7) Launch of full scale class struggle through armed squads (Dalums) to pulverize and neatralise governmental agencies, and 8) Creation of ‘liberated zones’. Government should go for stage-specific measures combining police action and vigorous civil works. In the early stages i.e. up to enforcement of “people justice”, police and paramilitary have only the role of providing the security cover to civil officials, redressing grievances and doing developmental work. But in the current government strategy such a multifaceted holistic approach for conflict resolution is not visible. In short, any excessive use of force against our citizens, though some among them are misguided, is obnoxious and sacrilegious and so not justified.

Enforcement of public order by police in handling a disturbance caused by agitating mobs or rioters should not normally be treated as state excesses. In fact in the cases of demolition of  Babri masjid, post demolition riots, Gujarat anti-minority genocide etc, inaction of police and deliberate acts of omission and commission by the state administration are acts of criminal negligence and should be punished to break the euphoria of immunity from culpability nurtured by officials who carried out the illegal agenda of ruling parties and facilitated crimes against citizens of India, in all these instances.

Defense forces are trained to use higher voltage of force as they are meant for striking at potential enemies of the nation, generally from the foreign countries. Nevertheless, neither military nor police ever adopt extra judicial killings as a means to normalize law and order or solve crime situations, on their own accord. The strategy of extra judicial killings through military and police is always the decision of the political leadership in the State/ Central governments. (See answer to question no. 8)

Fake encounters in the legal sense, are simple and unambiguous premeditated murders. As the dictionary meaning of encounters goes it has to be sudden and unexpected assault on law enforcing personnel or others, who are forced to exercise their right of self defense, on the spur of the moment, as permitted by CRPC and IPC. Anybody nurturing the idea of elimination of notorious criminals through fake encounters is against the letter, spirit and ethos of our Constitution and the concept of Rule of Law. Under what law can police usherp the role of Judiciary, who alone is empowered  to impose capital punishment?

Though the approach of certain individuals and HR organizations to condemn every police action against criminals in encounters, without going into the minute details o f the incident is desirable, on the whole, the HR activists have always acted as a check on trigger happy security personnel who indulge in excesses for becoming blue eyed boys in the eyes of unscrupulous politicians, well positioned in the government. To illustrate, please note that the fake encounter killings of many Muslims, allegedly members of jihadi organizations like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaishe-e-Mohammed has stopped after the arrest of the police officers involved in these crimes in Gujarat in April 2007. Does it mean that the militant organisations are more afraid of police officers in jail than when they were outside on duty?

No opinion can be given on the allegations about Badla incident without studying the case papers. We may leave it to the judgement of judiciary.

With utmost respect and admiration to the integrity, professional competence and the supreme sacrifice by my dear colleague, the late Karkare, I do not find any basis in the theory of  IB conspiring to eliminate Karkare. Unfortunately Karkare and other senior police officers traveled together in a single vehicle, exposing themselves to the terrorists, by violating the fundamental principles of personnel security. This indeed was a major factor behind their becoming sitting ducks/ easy targets to the bullets of well trained terrorists. Culpable negligence of the state administration in supplying these officers, sub-standard bullet proof vests (due to corruption) is another contributory factor. We should note that when the STF headed by Karkare arrested Muslim militants there was criticism against his secular credentials by the pro-militant lobby and later when he arrested  Hindutva activists for Malegaon blasts, the Sangh Parivar condemned him and termed him as an agent of Muslims.

Possibly terrorist groups indulged in propaganda using HR groups, but conclusive opinion is possible after proper investigations.

It appears that  intellectuals like Arundhati Roy indulge in knee jerk reactions, without proper appreciation of geo political, and strategic facets of India’s security challenges, both external and internal. Unfortunately Arundhati Roy and her friends are often misused by enemies of India. Moreover these people have inadequate perception abut the insurmountable stresses and strains suffered by security forces, who have to pay with their lives for the misleads or injustice done by politicians and civil administrations, which result in emergence of extreme protests. Roy and her friends should take up HR issues with specific details of every case and seek redressal through legal and legitimate channels. Assailing every action of police personnel relating to encounters by HR activists is counter productive.

About violation of human rights and atrocities by security forces no generic and sweepy opinion can be given. One should study case by case and arrive at proper conclusion. The human rights of terrorists should not be violated as a policy while tackling terrorism. The transformation of the mind set of the terrorists should be the aim of the state, in tune with the values of democracy, justice, probity and the physical elimination of terrorists is damaging the prospects of further investigation also. For example, since Lal Danga of Mizoram and Naga leaders in Nagaland were not eliminated in fake encounters, Government could maintain its credibility and also utilize these leaders for achieving a negotiated settlement of the insurgency problem. Politicians who opt for extra judicial killings should acquire skills of  statesmen and give up adhocism for electoral capitalism.

Certainly, terrorists do form HR bodies for launching their propaganda assaults. This is known to all intelligence agencies like CIA, IB, Mossad etc.

As mentioned in answer to question No. 17 HR bodies should go on case to case basis and seek justice through constitutional institutions.

Reforming the extremists, rebels, agitators, the deviants and criminals is the prudent and sober modern method of solving threat to public order and not physical termination of the persons who form the instrument of certain ideology of and organization. Very often the terrorists/ militants is a pre-programmed robot,  remote controlled by his master, who often insulates himself from the clutches of law. Our aim should be to alter the perverted software injected into his mind by anti national forces. Killing him, in fake encounters, will bestow him the status of a martyr, who will become a raw material for propaganda by the terrorists. Perseverance and patience should form part of the strategy by democratic governments in tacking terrorism.

It is increasingly clear that killing of Pranesh Kumar was a pre planned murder by Gujarat Police headed by IG Vanzara. Even the Judicial Magistrate Tamang confirmed it in his report also. Satish Verma (not Sharma) could collect substantial evidence in this direction.

In the case of Aseemanand, his innate faith in spiritualism, the core value of all religions had succeeded over the exclusivist Hindutva ideology injected  into his mind by the Sangh Parivar. Let us hope that more religious extremists will try for realization of the basic spiritual values of the religions – truth, love and compassion, instead of abusing people’s faith in religions for achieving their devilish political objectives.

The IB and the Government of India has adequate data on exclusive and sectarian socio political ideology of RSS which aims at establishment of Hindu Rashtra, under which the minorities, have to accept the status of second rate citizens. RSS’s territory-centric cultural nationalism treat Muslims (constituting 15% of India’s population) as foreigners and their contribution to Indian history and heritage as marginal and inferior. RSS is against sustenance of the syncretic symbiotic traditions of our Mother land, most laudable aspect of Indian civilization from time immemorial. Loving a place without respecting the identity and culture of a set of people residing there in can never be treated as a full fledged intrinsic patriotism. Such a stance is reflective of exclusive reductionism, contrary to the Preamble and the concept of Fundamental Duties in our Constitution. In short, RSS’s political objective is creation of the Hindu version of the idea of Darul-Islam – Kingdom of Islam, under one Kalipha pursued by jihadi groups among the Muslims.

The political concept of nationalism emerged in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries and this concept became the basis of formation of nation – states, first in Europe and later in other continents. Excessive nationalism has been responsible for many wars and genocidal atrocities from the 16th century, particularly the first and second world wars, colonialism and excesses of Fascism and Nazism. No real champions of world peace can love the idea of nationalism. In this perspective the stand of Arundhati Roy is right, but one has to be realistically pragmatic and worldly wise and accept the truth that the current conceivable political arrangement for the people of a territory is sustenance of nation-state and this contrivance cannot survive without prudent and imperative degree of patriotism and nationalism of the citizens/ inhabitants. Elimination of nationalism is possible only with the formation of a world government under the UNO. For the time being nobody who is committed to the Indian nation-state can subscribe to Roy’s ideas which in the long run, would lead to nihilistic anarchy.

Warm regards & best wishes

Yours Sincerely

R.B. Sreekumar
21st March, 2011

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