Saturday, July 21, 2007

On hypocrisy

I'm glad someone has finally written about the hypocrisy of the Indian media (read Barkha Dutt in Hindustan Times (July 21, 2007), the Indian government and many Indians over the Dr. Mohammad Haneef case in Australia. If you read our papers, or hear what our government says, you would be led to believe that human rights, and the rights of individuals charged under terrorism laws, are well respected in this country.

Yet this same media and the same government has nothing to say when people are picked up and charged under our terror laws. When, and if, they are finally released, few remind us that they were unjustly locked up. And when they are bumped off, under the well-worn excuse of an "encounter" killing, there is universal silence. Few questions are asked. The dead do not speak. They can defend themselves. And there is no one to speak up for them.

Then when a story like the "encounter" death of Sohrabuddin comes up, allegedly killed by top policemen from Gujarat and Rajasthan, and the subsequent murder of his wife, there is some writing about these extra-judicial killings. But no real investigation by the mainstream media. Why have we become so indifferent to human rights, or the rights of human beings and why do we accept that the State's rights supersede those of the individual in every instance?

In Maharashtra we still have th extraordinary case of Khwaja Yunus, a young engineer charged with being part of a terror bombing, who disappeared. Police claimed he escaped. His fellow detainee said he saw him vomiting blood after being tortured. And now another individual has come forward to say that he knows where his body was cremated. Yet, the Criminal Investigation Department has cleared the senior police officers earlier suspected of being part of the process that ultimately led to Yunus' death or disappearance.

And I always come up with the name of Ishrat Jahan. Will we ever know how and why this 19-year-old student from Mumbra, outside Mumbai, ended up in a carload of alleged "terrorists" who were shot down in an "encounter" by the very same cops now charged with the murder of Sohrabuddin?

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