The 10-page resignation letter of suspended Gujarat cadre IPS officer D.G. Vanzara — one among over 30 policemen currently in jail in connection with a chain of post-2002 encounter murders — is so much a case of damning with ‘high’ praise that on a first reading it could be misunderstood as a defence of Narendra Modi and his government. The letter is, indeed, worded in a manner to suggest that the chief recipient of Mr. Vanzara’s ire is Modi-confidant and BJP general secretary Amit Shah who, with his “evil influence,” usurped the Chief Minister’s “eyes and ears.” Mr. Modi himself is described by Mr. Vanzara, who was Deputy Inspector-General of Police until his 2007 arrest, as “a God” whom he adored. The one-time celebrated top cop also fully justifies the liquidation of terror suspects as a necessary outcome of the Gujarat government’s “pro-active policy of zero tolerance for terrorism.” However, the deceptive eulogy is merely a cover for a full-blown attack on Mr. Modi, whom Mr. Vanzara accuses of “marching towards Delhi” without a thought to the jailed police officers who merely followed the Chief Minister’s orders; if anything, Mr, Modi owed a “debt” to the officers whose actions “endowed him with the halo of a brave Chief Minister among a galaxy of other CMs.”
The mocking and sarcasm do not stop here. Arguing that those at the helm of decision-making too needed to be put in jail for pursuing a “conscious” policy of “alleged fake-encounters,” Mr. Vanzara suggests that the Gujarat government shift its offices to the prisons where the arrested policemen languished. So what is the real message in the letter? To start off, it exposes the deep schism between the Modi administration and its own police force. The sense of betrayal so acutely evident in Mr. Vanzara’s long lament comes from the differential treatment given to the police officers and Mr. Shah, who is himself an accused in two cases of encounter killings. The Gujarat government secured the release on bail of Mr. Shah while the officers were left to their own devices. More seriously for the State government, Mr. Vanzara confirms that suspected terrorists were killed under orders from the highest quarters. The accused officer, of course, puts a veneer of patriotism on the murders, insisting that but for the systematic purging of the suspects, Gujarat would have become another Kashmir. But no civilised country can permit the extra-judicial killing of its citizens, which is why Mr. Vanzara is cooling his heels in jail. The desperate police officer’s lament that he was merely following orders will not get him off the hook. But it does leave Mr. Modi and his government with much to answer for.