Sunday, 1 May 2016

2016-04-10 'About those who make and cull laws' by Humra Quraishi

"About those who make and cull laws"

Humra Quraishi
In the summer of 2011, when I interviewed Gujarat cadre cop RB Sreekumar, I knew he had a book in him. He was aware of the ground realities of the 2002 pogrom of Gujarat. He knew the exact sequences, along with the dates and timings and even names and surnames of the planners and perpetrators of violence.

Sreekumar was the first whistle-blower cop of Gujarat cadre and suffered the expected backlash for that. To quote him: “I was additional DGP (intelligence) of Gujarat from April to September 2002. I’d been reporting the Sangh Parivar and Modi government’s role in that carnage. My reports to the government were submitted in four affidavits of 600 pages whilst I was still in service. Later, I submitted two more affidavits. I did so in keeping with my duty as a civil servant and my oath to uphold the Constitution of India. Expectedly, I was superseded in February 2005. The Modi government served me a nine-point chargesheet with the aim of dismissing me from service. Though the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) quashed all charges against me, and the Gujarat High Court upheld CAT’s order, the Modi government appealed against that. Till date, the case is pending in the High Court. Even after my retirement, I’m not free from agony”.

Now, as the cop comes out with his book, he details the 2002 communal holocaust. Well-laced with political build-ups, communal patterns and bureaucracy’s role, it brings out the facts that riots had political backing, more importantly, that of the top brass.

He narrates several instances of what went on ‘behind the curtain’. A quote from the book: ‘On 28 June 2002, after a review meeting regarding the Ahmedabad Rath Yatra, the Chief Secretary suggested to me that in case someone was trying to disturb the Rath Yatra or planning to spoil it, those people should be eliminated if necessary.’

At another place, he writes, ‘In the afternoon (of 28 February 2002), I met DGP K Chakravorti in his chamber. I found him quite perturbed, helpless and stress-ridden about widespread mass violence in the cities of Ahmedabad, Vadodara and many rural areas. He lamented that things were taking a bad shape and activists of VHP, Bajrang Dal and BJP were leading armed crowds, and police officers, at decisive level on the ground, were not intervening effectively as they were keen on avoiding crossing swords with supporters of the ruling party....” The book carries several other instances, potent enough to nail several big names on the political and bureaucratic circuit of the day.

One aspect that stands out throughout the book is the numerous quotes from the scriptures that Sreekumar weaves in to highlight every individual’s duty to stand up for justice and protect the hapless against all possible odds. As he sums up, “How the government failed to practice raj dharma, both as per the ideals of the Indian heritage and provisions of the Constitution of India.”

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