Subversion of truth : The Tribune India


Subversion of truth

Central agencies and police being misused to redraw political equations

Subversion of truth

Partisan: Are the police paid and trained to settle political scores? People should ask pointed questions and insist on answers. PTI

Julio Ribeiro

Last week the police in Maharashtra was tasked with arresting a union minister, who was once the chief minister of the state. The Police Superintendent of Ratnagiri district was embarrassed to perform the task. A video released by the Opposition shows him arguing with Anil Parab, the state Transport Minister and a confidant of CM Uddhav Thackeray, pleading for a warrant for the arrest. The ongoing tussle between the BJP government at the Centre and the MVA government in Maharashtra is taking a predestined turn. The ED opened an inquiry against Parab soon after he was heard ‘ordering’ the Superintendent to arrest Narayan Rane. This tit-for-tat scenario will persist as long as the MVA government lasts.

The Central investigation agencies and the Maharashtra Police will be roped in to settle political scores and redraw political equations. Is this what they are paid and trained to do? People should ask pointed questions and insist on answers. Unleashing the CBI, the NIA and the ED on its political opponents at opportune times has become standard practice today. This trend has become particularly prominent since the past two years. Last week, Kripa Shankar Singh, a former minister in the Congress regime in Maharashtra, and the Congress face in Mumbai’s northern suburbs where North Indians live, joined the BJP. Kripa Shankar had several Central agency inquiries pending against him. It is commonly known that he will be absolved of his sins now and the MVA, which includes the Congress, may ferret out commissions and omissions that it had failed to notice when he adorned its ranks.

The spectacle of leaders being arraigned for crimes when they are in the Opposition and getting let off when they cross over is making a mockery of the rule of law. Truth, which is, and should be, indivisible, simply does not matter. Police officers told to catch criminals now need a total revamp of what they are taught during their training. They have to simply know the political colourations of the accused to decide whether they are guilty or innocent. The truth is not relevant. The problem arises when the chameleon changes colour once too often. Rewriting papers is not easy. It is a crime in itself. Only the culprits now will be the law-keepers.

Remember what the CBI did to the case against Suvendu Adhikari and the four other TMC ministers/legislators who were caught on camera accepting small-time bribes? Adhikari was accused of accepting Rs 5 lakh, his associates Rs 1 lakh each. But the CBI put up a charge sheet only against those who took Rs 1 lakh and left out Adhikari because he had joined the BJP. In West Bengal, the CBI and the state police have been searching for two different sets of culprits for the same offence. We will soon be saddled with policemen who know not the meaning of the word ‘truth’! The Delhi Police have approached the investigation of the Delhi riots with that mindset.

Many years ago when I was a DCP and the eastern suburbs of Mumbai City were in my charge, there was a street gang called the Harya-Narya gang in the limits of Chembur Police Station. The gang was named after its two leaders, Hanmantrao and Narayan. It was only after I had retired from service and returned to the city that a retired junior official who had worked at Chembur Police Station during my DCP days phoned to tell me that ‘Narya’ of the Harya-Narya gang had become the chief minister of Maharashtra!

Rane, who has survived in politics by changing parties every few years, is now in the BJP. After a patient wait, he finally got his opening. Modi made him a Cabinet minister in charge of micro, small and medium enterprises. And it was only when he attained this exalted position that he was finally taken into custody by the police of his parent state. Till then, as it now appears, he did not merit such attention.

The present charge against him though is a trivial one from the public’s viewpoint, and mine. From the current CM’s viewpoint it is very serious! And the CM’s viewpoint is shared by his cronies in the Shiv Sena party, particularly the transport minister. For Narayan Rane had pointed out that Uddhav Thackeray had committed a gaffe, an unpardonable one, in his August 15 speech to the people of the state, where he referred to the 75th anniversary of Independence (Amrut) as the 60th (Hirak). Quickly realising his mistake, the CM turned to whisper to his aide standing behind him. Rane, during his ongoing Jan Ashirvad yatra that every newly-inducted NDA Minister was tasked to perform in his own constituency, referred to the gaffe and said if he was the aide or if he was present at the spot he would have administered Uddhav a tight slap.

The CM, who was conducting his office very well till then, apparently felt the sting of the verbal slap. Why he blundered on this occasion is beyond comprehension. He had much to lose by losing his cool. Rane, on the other hand, was attempting to make a comeback after years in the wilderness.

The BJP’s principal opponent in the state, the Shiv Sena, originally its partner and friend, has given it a break that it may not have anticipated. If the events are closely examined, the BJP’s top brass will realise that Rane’s street-fighting credentials have given them an unexpected, albeit significant, victory in what can only be called a street skirmish.

Rane has suddenly come into reckoning as a person of interest. His yatra would have passed off unnoticed. But with Rane accused of something as banal as a virtual slap, it was unwise of Uddhav and his cronies to order the police to arrest Rane, thereby anointing him with an importance that he had not savoured for long.

The BJP, with its control over agencies like the CBI, ED, NIA and NCB, routinely released them on the state in politically sensitive cases like the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide and the explosive-laden SUV outside the Ambani residence in an all-out bid to topple the MVA in Maharashtra. Success has evaded it till now. Rane’s arrest may give it a much-needed break.

But in the race for power the competing politicians are destroying the very sanctity of truth on the basis of which alone justice has to be delivered.

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