The Gujarat government’s response to S.P. Tamang’s report — which said the killing of Ishrat Jehan and three others in 2004 by the Gujarat police was a fake encounter — is appalling. The Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to life and liberty. No agency of state can act in a manner that is contradictory to the philosophy of the Constitution. All those responsible for the killing of Ishrat and the others should be brought to book.
In their enthusiasm to show results, police indulge in questionable means such as ‘encounter killings’ and kill innocent people by default or design. Every time a fake encounter death is reported, courts have to intervene to set the matters right and ensure that the victims get justice. The police should stop resorting to illegal and extra-judicial means if we are to call ourselves a democratic nation wedded to the rule of law.
The police in most States resort to fake encounters because the criminal justice system in India is painfully slow. At times, it even lets criminals escape punishment.
Only tough laws on terror and fast track courts can instil confidence in the minds of the police and the people that terrorists will not escape punishment when caught, and that their trial will not take forever to conclude. The outcry in the Gujarat case seems motivated.
The Gujarat government acted on the inputs provided by the Centre. As some readers have rightly asked, what was a student doing in the company of terrorists in Ahmedabad?
Had the State government not acted on the Centre’s inputs and the four had perpetrated a terror strike, it would have been blamed. The media will lose credibility if they indulge in irrational criticism, which seems to arise more from their dislike of Narendra Modi than respect for truth.