Batla House judgement out, but encounter politics won't end
The court judgment holding Indian Mujahideen operative Shahzad Ahmed guilty of killing inspector MC Sharma is unlikely to change the opinion of those who considered the 2008 Batla House encounter as fake and those who considered it genuine.
There would not be any closure of the issue on account of the sessions court verdict. Partisan politics would not let that happen; the divided public will stay on the side of contesting predilections.
The Jamia Teachers' Association, that doubted the police claims and had sought a judicial probe into the encounter theory, has already declared its intent to file an appeal in the higher court. The mood is no different in the predominantly Muslim Jamia Nagar where residents were ostracised in the wake of the encounter that happened less than a week after the September 13 Delhi bombings.
The impending assembly elections in Delhi will kill reason and harden positions as the country progresses towards the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP will use it to paint the Congress as being soft on extremists for electoral considerations.
Lost in the ensuing melee will be the fact that the then home minister P Chidambaram rejected his party peer Digvijaya Singh's doubts over the genuineness of the encounter. His position was borne out later by a high court order and the findings of the National Human Rights Commission that found the encounter genuine.
The Congress therefore will be at the receiving end of the flak not just in Delhi but across states where terrorism is an issue. The parallel discourse over investigations into the Ishrat Jahan case of Gujarat could further vitiate the political ambience.
The reverberations of the judgment will undoubtedly be felt at Azamgarh in UP, the native place of some members of the so-called terror-module busted at Batla House. Active in UP from the BJP's side is Narendra Modi's close confidant Amit Shah who is under a cloud himself in the Ishrat Jahan encounter.
No electoral discourse dominated by irreconcilable differences on encounters triggered by terrorist episodes can be expected to forge the political culture India needs to fight terrorism. Even as emotions run high, let us not forget that the scourge has to be fought by sticking to the path of justice. Though inevitable at times, encounters cannot be integral to our security paradigm. Or else we would end up breeding, not containing terror.