New Delhi: The terror trail behind the series of attacks in the country – from Ahmedabad to Malegaon to Hyderabad – all point to the Students Islamic Movement of India. The Union Government has, for the first time, officially pinned the blame on SIMI in the Supreme Court.
In fact, the Government has even accused the organsiation of collecting funds for terror activities during Muslim festivals.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat Police claim they have cracked the Ahmedabad blast case and arrested two more people on Wednesday, in addition to the 10 already taken into custody.
The police say they know the masterminds and have taken them to Ahmedabad for further investigation. One of them is a dentist, identified as Salim Ahmed and the second is Ali Khan Pathan.
In the last 18 months, 26 people have been arrested from different parts of Karnataka - all allegedly members of the banned SIMI, most of them either doctors or engineers.
But amid all the arrests and developments in the case, the proactive role of Gujarat Police seems to stand out. CNN-IBN debated if by cracking – or at least claiming to have cracked – the blasts case, has Narendra Modi cracked the war on terror.
Gujarat Health Minister and BJP spokesperson Jay Narayan Vyas, social activist Teesta and Associate Editor, The Hindu Praveen Swami debated the controversial question on Face the Nation.
Modi: The champion of war on terror?
Vyas strongly vouched for the state government and said Indians must congratulate the Gujarat Police for having obtained crucial leads in the case and ultimately cracking it. “There’s no politics in what they have done. They are all facts. This also puts to rest the theories being circulated by the so-called secularists and proves they (SIMI) is the fountainhead of terror. Better late than never,” he said.
Vyas also dismissed suggestions that the war on terror could actually translate into war on a particular community – a fairly prominent school of thought. “The issue at hand is national pride and security,” he said.
However, while this case may have been one of the quickest blast cases to be cracked, whether or not an actual conviction is secured depends on the amount and the kind of evidence Gujarat Police are able to secure.
That’s the point Teesta took to plunge into the debate.
With her usual allegations of discriminatory attitude on the part of the police, she also said there were crucial leads in the blasts case that seem of have suddenly gone cold. “Initially, the policemen said the explosives had the mark which showed they were made in an Andhra Pradesh factory and in Dholpur region of Rajasthan. Where are those leads?” she questioned.
She also said the ATS of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh had informed their Gujarat counterparts of possible SIMI training grounds in January itself. “What was the Gujarat Police doing for six months? Sleeping so that the incident could happen?” she asked. Teesta concluded her argument by insisting the Gujarat Police stood in public memory as the ones who initiated an “anti-minority” violence and shouldn’t be allowed to investigate the case in national interests.
Vyas, however, responded to Teesta and said her points were typical. “She writes the judgement before it’s read. So I am not surprised with her usual points. She’s biased and convinced about her argument,” he said. Vyas said since terror was a pan-Indian worry, it was ridiculous to put Gujarat in the line of fire. In a scathing remark, he also compared Teesta’s with an attitude that went: any colour is good so far as it’s black.
Teesta and Vyas got into a heated war of words at this point with both of them steadfast on their stands – Teesta slamming Modi and police and Vyas lashing out at her by defending them.
Problem with policing
At this point in time, Praveen Swami joined the debate. There have been 11 blasts in India since 2005 and not one of them have seen convictions. Suspects were rounded up in all cases but they were let off due to lack of evidence. Swami pointed out there was a trial going on in the UP blasts case – the imam of Phoolpur was being tried.
But he agreed there was a chronic problem with India’s criminal justice system with cases from 1993 blasts not reaching a conclusion yet. “Much of intelligence came from IB and as Teesta pointed out, the state police of Maharashtra and Andhra cooperated extensively. So for any one state police to walk away with the credit is silly. Gujarat IGP has admitted that Central intelligence agencies played a big role,” he said.
Swami also pointed out that unfortunately, Gujarat was no better prepared for the catastrophe than any other state against terrorist offensive and it was a case of big talk, little action. “You need to go through the Gujarat Police’s budget stats to see the investments to be made into modernisation and infrastructure haven’t been made,” he said.
But playing the Devil’s Advocate, wouldn’t it be fair to give Narendra Modi some credit? He did not launch any anti-Muslim rhetoric after the incident, his administration has indeed cracked the case. But Teesta remained steadfast on her stand that it was too early to say these things and look at the case more closely instead. “There’s also the question of Surat bombs none of which exploded. There are questions there. The ATS Maharashtra also cracked some blasts, the SC has stayed Malegaon and 7/11 trials – why do we need to pat someone like Modi when we never did that with Vilasrao Deshmukh (Maharashtra CM),” she reasoned.
Teesta also reminded that Narendra Modi, in his election campaign, kept challenging the terrorists to come to Gujarat. “Is this how responsible leaders speak? Now he had no choice but to have a restrained attitude” she questioned, saying Modi was no different from any other CM and terrorism was an international problem.
Vyas alleged Teesta was confused. On the one hand, she was blaming terrorism on the state and on the other, she was terming it an international menace. “Let’s not be uncharitable to the police who cracked the case in record time,” he said, adding Modi was democratically elected and it was ridiculous to charge him with irrelevant allegations.
Swami, the neutral voice on the show, said the problem was more to do with policing than anything else. “If these guys arrested are acquitted, it will be unfortunate. But the hard-working police force does not have the forensics and legal support to make cases stick,” he concluded.
SMS/Web poll: Has Modi cracked the war on terror
Yes: 72 per cent
No: 28 per cent