Disquiet over a claim

June 29, 2015 12:28 am | Updated November 28, 2021 09:18 pm IST

The >claim made by Rohini Salian , the Special Public Prosecutor appearing in the case relating to the 2008 Malegaon blasts being investigated by the National Investigation Agency, that she was told by the NIA after the NDA government came to power last year to go slow on it, is a shocking one. While the NIA has denied this and has also said it was incorrect to suggest that it had bypassed Ms. Salian as prosecutor in the case, that is yet to go to the trial court, there is something distressing about this episode. The Malegaon blasts in Maharashtra were pinned on Muslim extremists, until diligent work by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad led by Hemant Karkare identified the >hand of Hindu extremists , many of whom were alleged to have carried out blasts such as in the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, the Samjhauta Express and Ajmer Sharif, all in 2007; in Modasa in Gujarat in 2008, and in Malegaon earlier in 2006. The investigation led by Karkare — who was killed later in 2008 during the terror attacks in Mumbai — led to the filing of a comprehensive charge sheet. This document and other police reports contained transcripts of secret meetings among extremists and revealed the chilling agenda of Hindu right-wing fringe groups, which allegedly sought to emulate jihadi terrorism and foment trouble by violently targeting people from the minority community and use that opportunity to gain political power. The NIA took over the investigation from the ATS, and it was tasked with looking into the broader scheme of actions by Hindu extremist groups. Since 2011, however, the case has been held up in courts, and only in April 2015 did the NIA initiate investigations following a go-ahead from the Supreme Court for the case to be heard by a new special trial court. The NIA is yet to file a fresh charge sheet.

Ms. Salian’s statement indeed raises questions about possible interference in the cases since the NDA government came to power, and the Supreme Court ought to take note of this. After all, only after the Supreme Court >intervened and directed investigations into various cases relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots and set up special courts, did the judicial process in those cases settle on a proper track. It is imperative that the sense of disquiet over any skewed justice when it comes to cases related to extremists from the majority community as opposed to those from the minority communities is dispelled. This is especially so with respect to Maharashtra, where the recommendations of the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Commission that investigated the Mumbai riots of 1992-1993 remained unheeded, and where the guilty were never brought to book.

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