The affidavit filed in the Bombay High Court by the Home Department on Thursday — which said there would be no prosecution of political leaders who allegedly incited their supporters to indulge in violence and damage property — has raised several eyebrows.
The government filed the affidavit in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) — that was originally a letter written by former city police chief Julio Ribeiro to the court —mentioning four incidents of politician-backed violence. Ribeiro had demanded compensation from the guilty and punishment for the instigators.
“Since no involvement of top leaders or conspiracy was revealed, no action of arrest or prosecution could be taken,” said the affidavit filed by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chandra Iyengar.
“This shows the state’s complete lack of will. The state has to first take on the responsibility of protecting the people and of dealing with the problem at its root,” said Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) activist James John — who was assaulted in March 2006, allegedly by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists, for supporting North Indians seeking jobs in Mumbai.
“In many cases, the attackers carry flags and in other cases they clearly say which party they represent. When political parties are registered, the leaders heading it are declared... What more proof does one need?” John said.
Former chief secretary B.G. Deshmukh, who is now an activist, had gone to court against bandhs enforced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena. The court had slapped a Rs 20 lakh fine on each party. Deshmukh felt the court should work out a way to get the compensation.
“The court should mortgage the properties of these parties and get them to pay for all the losses. Sena Bhavan should be mortgaged and the money used to compensate for the attacks the party has instigated,” he said.
Recently, the Sena had attacked some theatres screening the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer My Name Is Khan. The Sena said it was doing so in protest against Khan’s support for Pakistani players in the Indian Premier League and his saying that Mumbai was for all Indians.
“In all these incidents, there was direct provocation from senior leaders. There is no denying that, so action can be easily taken,” said Deshmukh.