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Non-Existent Public Inquiry and the Right to Know


Usha Ramanathan

13 DECEMBER: TERROR OVER DEMOCRACY
By Nirmalangshu Mukherji Foreword Essay 'Manipulation of Fear' by Noam Chomsky
Promilla & Co. in association with Bibliophile South Asia, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 372, Rs. 395.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 5 May 2005

On 13 December 2001, at 11.30 a.m. a white Ambassador equipped with the red light of a VIP car and a Home Ministry sticker, entered the Parliament complex, rammed into the Vice President’s cavalcade when attempting a U-turn and, challenged, the five armed persons in the car opened fire. In the battle that followed, all five men were shot dead, nine persons including six security personnel and a gardener were killed, and 16 others belonging to the security forces sustained injury. The Prime Minister likened the December 13 attack on Parliament to the 9/11 catastrophe. Parliament was adjourned sine die. Pakistan was held responsible for the attack and, while rejecting President Musharraf’s offer of a joint probe, a massive military offensive was launched leading to perilous moments with fingers poised over the nuclear trigger. No actual war ensued, but several thousand crores of rupees went into the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, hundreds of soldiers died, and “reportedly, over one hundred children died and many farmers lost their livelihood due to heavy mining in the border areas” (p.11). POTA, which the government had been unable to get enacted, sailed through Parliament in the climate of fear that caught on, and was perpetuated, after the attack.   The five terrorists were declared to be Pakistanis; no one claimed them, not from India, not from Pakistan, and the leads were not followed through to establish their identities. Instead, on the basis of mobile phone numbers that were allegedly recovered from the dead men, three Kashmiri Muslims were picked up and tried for conspiring in the commission of a terrorist act. The wives of one of the accused was drawn into the ring of the accused as someone who must have had knowledge that the attack was being planned, for the meetings were allegedly held in her house. The three men were Afzal, a militant who had surrendered to the BSF in 1992 and was under the watchful eye of the Special Task Force since then; Shaukat Guru, his cousin, a fruit vendor who had married the fourth accused, Afshan Guru who was born Navjot Sandhu, a Sikh; and Geelani, a professor in a New Delhi college. Afzal and Shaukat were said to have made confessions to a police officer, which only under POTA is admissible in evidence. Their s.313 statements made in response to the questions of the judge when the prosecution’s witnesses had been examined, contradicted much of ...


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