The kerfuffle over the killing of eight SIMI undertrials in Bhopal on Monday is not likely to die down unless the Opposition, activists and public get some answers. It is in the government’s interests to put forward the facts so that there can be some closure. Instead, we see the government saying that some people and parties were trying to politicise and communalise an issue dealing with the country’s security.
It doesn’t help when the minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju says that people should stop this habit of questioning the authorities and the police. The problem is that with this killing and also previous such encounters, the authorities tend to be opaque, leading to suspicions about what happened.
As for the issue of communalising the situation, it is the Madhya Pradesh chief minister who spoke of appeasement and that many undertrials were being fed chicken biryani, both clear references to the religion of those killed. The State must remember that security forces are not above scrutiny.
The government should not try to shut people up under the cover of national security. The information and broadcasting minister referred to it becoming a `fashion’ to question the police. This it to trivialise the serious issues related to the escape and killing of the prisoners among them the lack of security on the jail premises and that of whether they could not have been captured alive.
This issue should not become a festering sore like that of the Ishrat Jahan encounter and of numerous others before and after that. By trying to draw a veil of silence over the incident the government is making an already fraught situation worse. It should not take a position that there can be no probe into the incident; rather it should welcome such an investigation which would make all the facts clear.
This is the best way to blunt any attack. This has nothing to do with communalisation as the government is trying to make out, it has to do with whether these were extra-judicial killings or a genuine response to an attack by the suspects.
A clear presentation of the facts as they transpired is the best rebuttal to what the government sees as uncomfortable and needless questions.