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OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.
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According to an affidavit filed by DIG CID Rajnish Rai in the Supreme Court, more arrests are soon likely in the fake encounter case in Gujarat. In a startling confession, Gujarat government on Monday told the Supreme Court that Kausar Bi, wife of fake encounter victim Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed by being burnt to death. In a new twist to row over the killing of Soharabuddin Sheikh in a fake encounter, a senior police officer today said the Gujarat police had tried to cover it up in 2006 by not taking cognizance of recommendation for a CID probe into it after the victim’s brother filed a case. Three IPS officers, including one from Rajasthan, were arrested on April 23 after a CID (crime) probe revealed that Sohrabuddin was killed in a fake encounter by a team of Gujarat and Rajasthan Police. The three officers – D G Vanjhara (DIG border range), Rajkumar Pandiyan (SP intelligence bureau) and Dineshkumar M N (SP Alwar, Rajasthan) are in the custody of CID. The media has been casting aspersions on Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, known to be close to one of the arrested officers D G Vanjhara for being linked to the cover up.

Offstumped examines the reportage on this issue in the mainstream media to expose the lopsided morality and political bias underlying it.

First to gain a perspective on the issue of fake encounters and custodial deaths, Offstumped turned to the National Human Rights Commission, that tax payer funded conscience keeper for the nation.

The NHRC for all its activism in keeping the citizens (its sponsors) informed about how its managing their collective conscience has been rather slack in releasing its annual reports. The last report available online is for 2004-2005, nevertheless it makes for interesting reading. The report amongst other things covers custodial deaths and encounters.

As regards the deaths which occurred in the police custody in the course of the year 2004-2005, the report indicated that there was a noticeable decline in such cases vis-à-vis the previous year in the States of Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan,Tamilnadu and West Bengal. There was, however, an increase in the deaths in police custody n the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Delhi, Jharkhand and Uttranchal.

Well thats something the mainstream media will not bother to tell you. Now the present media outrage is all about encounters so let us look at what the NHRC has to say about encounters.
 

122 intimations were received from the various State Governments about killings in encounters during the year 2004-2005. These included 66 such intimations from the State of Uttar Pradesh, 18 intimations from Andhra Pradesh, 9 from Delhi and 5 each from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Separately, the Commission also received 84 complaints about alleged killings in fake encounters.

Here is another interesting statistic from NHRC on fake encounter cases disposed during 2004-2005. Gujarat had just 1 fake encounter case while congress ruled AP had 5, SP ruled UP had 54, congress ruled Haryana had 4. While Gujarat only 5 encounter cases pending, Congress ruled AP had 21, Congress ruled Maharashtra had 29, SP ruled UP had 175, the National Capital Delhi had 18 despite Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh at the helm and Congress ruled Uttaranchal had 14. 

So when one sees the head over heels moral outrage in the mainstream media over the Gujarat Fake encounter case, one is left bewildered over why the media has its conscience pouring all over its newsprint over a hardened criminal when far many more cases in other states presumably many involving innocent law abiding citizens are pending.

Looking at all this outrage one is forced to ask the question – what moral underpinnings does this outrage stem from ? Is it about what ails Criminal Justice ? Is it about why our law enforcement has lost faith in the Judicial System that it tends to find violent and murderous solutions outside the ambit of law ? Is it about why there are such a large number of encounters and fake encounters in some specific states ? Or is it about how Criminal Justice and Law enforcement are so easily prone to political pressures that they tend to be misused for political purposes ?

If the outrage over Sohrabuddin’s fake encounter death was secular and moral it would be asking all of the above questions. It would have focused the debate on the widespread secular nature of this malaise that afflcits our law enforcement and criminal justice system. But then thats not what the public debate on Soharbuddin has been about. It has instead been about how a Muslim man and his wife were wronged by the Police in BJP’s Narendra Modi ruled Gujarat. Nothing exemplifies the media’s hollow morality and political bias than this comment by congress hack Pankaj Vohra in the Hindustan Times

Sheikh’s death is another case of the Modi government’s high-handedness. Thankfully, the country has a good judicial system and it will never allow fascist designs to succeed. Recent incidents and especially those concerning Gujarat have shown beyond doubt that the BJP is losing its moral fibre slowly and surely

Mr. Vohra conveninently ingnores that YSR’s Andhra and Vilasrao Deshmukh’s Maharashtra are far ahead by leaps and bounds on the NHRC’s scale of high handedness and fascism. So what then of the Congress’ moral fibre or is that it never had one to begin with !

Offstumped Bottomline: The public debate on the Gujarat Fake encounter case reminds us once again of the deep anti-BJP anti-Narendra Modi agenda of the mainstream media. There is neither morality nor secularism in the media’s reportage of this case. If the media were to be seriously concerned about encounters it would focus on what ails criminal justice and law enforcement and not on Modi and the BJP.

Sohrabuddin was a hardened criminal and the fact remains that he got more justice in his death than he probably ever dealt to his many victims in life. By framing the public debate on his religion the media stands guilty of communalization doing little to either Human Rights or to Secularism.

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