Certain friends remind us it is the fifth anniversary of a dark moment in our recent history.About this time seven or eight years ago the govt agencies in charge of state security announced to a dazed country the incredible story of an horrendous plot to assassinate the Prime Minister linked to a tortuous plan to create absolute mayhem in the country and overthrow the government by force.People like Gautam Navlekha whom people knew as a serious civil rights activist and journalist reporting on Maoist insurgency with open sympathy for the aims of the extremists but with pronounced dislike of their methods,and Colin Gonsalves, well-known lawyer crusading for human rights of political prisoners were unceremoniously arrested in the dead of night and dragged off to jail on such hair-raising charges.
The charges against them were decked out with lurid details like their involvement in massive illegal arms smuggling and alleged meticulous operation of a network of spies and undercover agents.The electronic evidence collected from the laptops of the accused ran into thousands of pages,allegedly.A few have been granted bail.An elderly Christian priest had to seek the court’s intervention to get hold of a straw to drink with, as afflicted with palsy he could not drink water straight from a glass.The court hemmed and hawed over granting him medical bail———–reason being the terrible threat to state security—-until he succumbed to his serious ailments,which in any case made him an unlikely conspirator.
But all this pother notwithstanding,there was no chargesheet.The police explained the delay by pleading that new evidence was being found every passing day,and the courts being alert to the menace to the state were generous in granting more time.The case has crossed seven or eight years and still there is no chargesheet.Those taken into prison are languishing and frustrated no end but the police and the courts seem to have forgotten them.
If the charges were really so grim the police should not have lingered on their watch but prepared and submitted the chargesheet with energy,decision and celerity.It is odd.To add to the piquant situation two celebrated forensic labs of America famous for their electronic sleuthing reported decisively that the evidence supplied by the defense lawyers bore tell-tale signs of having been implanted.(Defense lawyers had received a copy of the electronic evidence on court orders).But the police and state agencies are prepared to accept only the findings of the National Forensic Laboratory of Pune,which had pronounced the electronic evidence genuine. There seems no earthly reason why the findings of two independent American labs vizz.Arsenal Forensics and Citizen Lab are to be discounted and the Pune lab preferred.Unless of course it is pleaded that like Hindu science being superior to vain Western science Indian labs are more worthy than foreign labs.
If however one takes a longer view and believes that this could be one of the grossest cases of denial of justice and liberty to those not found guilty so far,and least likely to be found guilty,the law’s delay should stir our people’s conscience and compel them to awaken the courts to the iniquity.Their fellow citizens are unjustly charged,incarcerated and deprived of liberty,and spending years in uncertainty within prison walls.Are they conspirators or themselves victims of conspiracy by the government? Modi’s visit to the States should be placed against this shady background.Joe Biden who has turned from an amiable helpful uncle in the White House into an inveterate war-monger prolonging a war bleeding two nations without any side gaining from it,and Modi whose inspirational pep talks to those weary of struggle and losing heart in his ‘Mann ki baat’ ,turns a blind eye to whip-lashes of price-rise and the nightmare of job losses and pay-cuts and the excesses of the state agencies finding conspiracies everywhere except in their own lairs,might look like sanctimonious murderers meeting to discuss love and charity for fellow men unless they do something to address such questions and redeem themselves in the eyes of the world.
Hiren Gohain is a political commentator