It needs a great deal of gullibility of the people to believe that five eminent citizens of the country were plotting to assassinate the Prime Minister of the country. But this is the charge that has been brought against them by the Pune police. One thing that is common to all of them is that they are critics of the present Government and are zealous defenders of civil rights. Two are lawyers and social activists, another a journalist, a third is a Mumbai-based lawyer and another is a woman lawyer and human rights activist. The Pune police claim to have found evidence that all of them were a part of the conspiracy. Prominent intellectuals of the country, from historian Ram Chandra Guha to writer Arundhati Roy, from Supreme Court lawyer Shanti Bhusan to poet and intellectual Shankha Ghose, have strongly reacted to the arrests and accused the Government of trying to create a fear psychosis in the country and curbing freedom. The National Human Rights Commission has already issued a notice to the Maharashtra Government and the Director General of Police of that State, saying that standard operating procedure was not followed in the arrests which may amount to a violation of their human rights.
It is now for the State Government and the DGP to satisfy the NHRC and to adduce fool-proof evidence before a court of law to prove the charges and obtain the conviction of the accused. Meanwhile, a pertinent question has cropped up. Why is the inquiry into such a grave conspiracy being conducted by the Pune police and not by the NIA which has been set up to investigate this type of conspiracies? The identity and track record of the accused make the charges look frivolous and motivated. The response of the NHRC also implies that the human rights body remains unconvinced of the charges brought against the accused. What makes the motive of the Government all the more suspect is that with several State Assembly elections in the offing and the general elections by the year end, it has very little to show on the performance front. It needs something to divert the attention of the people from the burning issues affecting them. Is the Pune police running a red herring?
It is worth recalling that just before the Gujarat Assembly polls the Prime Minister accused former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice-President Hameed Ansari and former army chief Deepak Kapur of conspiring with Pakistan to make Ahmed Patel the chief minister of Gujarat. After the elections, neither Mody nor anyone else talked about it and kept mum.

Wednesday, 29 August, 2018