HT Image
HT Image

Terror has no religion

The secular democratic foundations of the Indian Republic must be reinforced by strengthening the equality of all before law, writes Sitaram Yechury.
By Sitaram Yechury | None
UPDATED ON AUG 02, 2007 01:42 AM IST

The six-year rigorous imprisonment conviction of Sanjay Dutt by the Tada court hearing the trial of the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai has predictably led to a furore. I had the occasion to participate in many anti-communal marches organised by his father, Sunil Dutt. Apart from knowing Sanjay, his sister, Priya, serves on the Parliamentary Standing Committee of which I am the chairman. I sympathise with their agony. However, as Justice PD Kode said, the judge was only doing his duty in upholding the law. In any case, let us see what the Supreme Court does when it hears the appeal against the sentence.

With this conviction, the special court has completed its work. Among the 100 chargesheeted convicts, 10 have been sentenced to death while 17 others have been given life imprisonment. The Mumbai blasts killed over 250 people and injured over 700.

While it is welcome that finally some justice has been delivered in this case, questions arise on the efficacy of the system of delivery of justice in the country. It must be remembered that it has taken more than 14 years for these sentences to be pronounced. Fourteen years is the normal period of time that defines life imprisonment. With the process of the appeals to the Supreme Court now beginning, the final verdict may take a long time.

Such apprehensions regarding the justice delivery system are substantiated by the fact that it has taken nearly two decades for known and identified culprits to be sentenced in the ghastly communal riots in Bhagalpur. The perpetrators of the Maliana communal massacre of 1987 are yet to be legally chargesheeted. Two decades after 1984, the Nanavati Commission submitted a report on the post-Indira Gandhi assassination killings of Sikhs, without nailing the culpability of any person. The perpetrators of the post-Godhra genocide in Gujarat continue to roam free while mountains of circumstantial evidence have not led to the necessary convictions.

Then, there is the case of the findings of the Justice Srikrishna Commission on the post-Babri Masjid demolition, 1992-93 communal riots in Mumbai. In fact, the 1993 blasts were widely propagated as being the response of ‘minority terrorism’ to the ‘majority terrorism’ unleashed in the communal riots. Justice Srikrishna himself substantiates this linkage in the report. It is, indeed, a matter of shame that no action has been initiated against anybody indicted in the report. Just as there are two Indias — Shining and Suffering — there are two 1993s for Mumbai — the ghastly communal riots and the serial blasts. Justice cannot be complete, unless both of these are dealt with. The justice delivery system shall fail once again and allow the perpetrators of communal violence and terrorism to go scot-free unless this is immediately corrected. Further, this is also important to ensure the impartiality of our system, so crucial to create an environment that does not feed terrorism through perceptions of institutional discrimination and injustice.

These are not the only instances in independent India where justice has failed to be delivered to the victims of communal riots. There have been at least five important judicial commissions of inquiry that have submitted their voluminous reports, and yet justice has been elusive. These are the Justice P. Jaganmohan Reddy Commission of Inquiry into the Ahmedabad Riots of 1969; the Justice D.P. Madan Commission on the Bhiwandi riots of 1970; the Justice Vithayathil Commission on the Tellicherry riots of 1971; the Justice Jitendra Narain Commission on the Jamshedpur riots of 1979; and the Justice P Venugopal Commission on the Kanyakumari riots of 1982. The Kanyakumari riots were the result of a conflict between Hindus and Christians while the rest have been Hindu-Muslim riots. The RSS was indicted in all of these.

Clearly, the conflicts among different religious communities in India have all universally denied justice to the victims. For how long can the modern secular Indian Republic afford to not improve its justice delivery system? The committee set up to draft a national policy on criminal justice headed by the former director of the National Judicial Academy, Madhav Menon, has reportedly submitted its report. It can only be hoped that some effective measures to improve the justice delivery system have been suggested and these will be implemented.

The question of punishing the perpetrators of communal strife is necessary not only from the viewpoint of humanism and compassion, but it is also imperative that justice be delivered in order to strengthen the secular democratic foundations of the modern Indian republic.

There is a universal adage that justice delayed is justice denied. Not only must justice be delivered promptly, but it must also never be partial. While justice in the Mumbai blasts is welcome, the refusal or the reluctance to deliver justice in the various instances mentioned above only gives the impression that the justice delivery system not only has a system of in-built delays but is also one with in-built discrimination. Not one of the 31 police officers indicted by the Srikrishna Commission, for instance, has been punished. In fact, at least ten have been promoted.

It needs to be repeated ad nauseam that terrorism cannot be associated with any one religion. Terrorism is a crime against humanity that needs to be erased. But this cannot be done by targeting any one specific community as this, apart from being patently unjust, can only be counterproductive by creating the atmosphere that breeds terrorism’s recruits. Mainstream Hindi cinema (such as Fiza) has reflected the disastrous consequences of such discrimination and harassment.

In India’s case, the victims of terrorist attacks have been of such a diverse range that the terrorists cannot be put into any single religious group. We have experienced the agonies of attacks on Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, tribals and Hindus. We lost two Prime Ministers through terrorist assassinations. Mahatma Gandhi himself was a victim of terrorist bullets.

We need to deal effectively with the environment — the fiza — that continues to breed and perpetuate terrorism as the Prime Minister himself recently stated. A system of delivery of justice, which is seen to be discriminatory, only vitiates such an environment further.

In the final analysis, the strength of the Republic is measured in its capacity to treat all its citizens equally. The Constitution promises to do so in its preamble. The incapacity to deliver this promise can only undermine the foundations of the Republic. India cannot afford this. The secular democratic foundations of the Indian Republic must be reinforced by strengthening the equality of all before law.

Sitaram Yechury is a Rajya Sabha MP and member, CPI(M) politburo

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
A healthcare worker fills the syringe while vaccinating in Delhi hospital.
A healthcare worker fills the syringe while vaccinating in Delhi hospital.

LIVE: China's Covid-19 tally rises by 9 fresh cases

By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:33 AM IST
Calls for an independent investigation into the origin of Covid-19 grew as a group of scientists called for a probe to consider all hypotheses and nail down whether the virus came from an animal.
The district bordering Myanmar has been under instruction to report crossing over of Myanmarese nationals.(AP file photo for representation purposee)
The district bordering Myanmar has been under instruction to report crossing over of Myanmarese nationals.(AP file photo for representation purposee)

Mizoram verifying reports of 3 Myanmarese nationals crossing over to India

By Utpal Parashar | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Guwahati
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:32 AM IST
  • A Reuters report quoting unnamed officials stated that at least 19 Myanmarese policemen have crossed over to the Indian side through border areas in Serchip and Champhai districts. However, it could not be confirmed.
Close
The shop was closed owing to a dip in the business during lockdown, it has been claimed.
The shop was closed owing to a dip in the business during lockdown, it has been claimed.

Raj Thackeray party takes credit of closing Karachi Bakery; not true, say others

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:25 AM IST
As Mumbai's only Karachi Bakery shuts shop, MNS leader Haji Saif Shaikh said credit goes to party's November legal notice to the bakery for using Karachi in the name.
Close
The distance between Ahmedabad and Mumbai will be covered in two hours once the bullet train starts.
The distance between Ahmedabad and Mumbai will be covered in two hours once the bullet train starts.

'Gujarat leg of bullet train may open before Maharashtra first if...': Official

Posted by Prashasti Singh | PTI, Ahmedabad
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:10 AM IST
NHSRCL MD Achal Khare also said at a virtual press meet that the deadline of 2023 for completing the project was not feasible, and civil works on Gujarat side were expected to be completed by 2024.
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the Make in India centre, in Mumbai. (Picture courtesy: PIB)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the Make in India centre, in Mumbai. (Picture courtesy: PIB)

PM Modi to hold virtual summit on bilateral issues with his Sweden counterpart

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:04 AM IST
"This will be the fifth interaction between the two leaders since 2015. PM Modi had visited Stockholm in April, 2018 for the First India Nordic Summit. While, Sweden PM had visited India in February, 2016 for the special Make in India week," the MEA said.
Close
Delhi High Court.(Mint file)
Delhi High Court.(Mint file)

Delhi HC directs UP police to give post mortem report of farmer

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:58 AM IST
A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna asked Uttar Pradesh police to provide both the original documents to the Delhi Police on March 5 and said that the document shall be retained in safe custody.
Close
Mizoram home minister Lalchamliana confirmed that the three people crossed over and entered Serchip district bordering Myanmar on Wednesday.(AP Photo )
Mizoram home minister Lalchamliana confirmed that the three people crossed over and entered Serchip district bordering Myanmar on Wednesday.(AP Photo )

At least three Myanmar cops cross into India seeking refuge

By Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Guwahati
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:26 AM IST
  • Those entering India can be granted refugee status, but they will be deported if the government decides against it
Close
These will be part of a long-awaited overhaul in how India sees and approaches dangers in the digital domain.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
These will be part of a long-awaited overhaul in how India sees and approaches dangers in the digital domain.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Cyber policy to factor in threat from state actors

By Sunetra Choudhury, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:38 AM IST
  • The 50-odd pages document, anchored by the national security adviser’s office, is now awaiting the approval from the Prime Minister’s office before it is released.
Close
Till Wednesday night, India vaccinated a total of 949,147 people, or 712 per million in Phase 2, which covers the most vulnerable sections of the general public.(AP)
Till Wednesday night, India vaccinated a total of 949,147 people, or 712 per million in Phase 2, which covers the most vulnerable sections of the general public.(AP)

Covid-19: Phase 2 of vaccination drive stuck in first gear

UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:16 AM IST
  • Delhi, which gave shots to 1,679 people per million population in the second phase till Wednesday night, was in the second spot, while Odisha (1,283 doses per million) was third
Close
But the bench was emphatic that before it examined Purohit’s bail plea, it would want to take a look at the regulations, which were notified by the central government on February 25.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
But the bench was emphatic that before it examined Purohit’s bail plea, it would want to take a look at the regulations, which were notified by the central government on February 25.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

OTT regulations a necessity as some even show porn, says SC

By Utkarsh Anand, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:49 AM IST
  • The scenes that caused offence have since been deleted, and the makers as well as the OTT company have apologised.
Close
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain said he will reply to these arguments on Tuesday when the matter will be next heard.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain said he will reply to these arguments on Tuesday when the matter will be next heard.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

‘Can’t mandate perverse equality’: SC on plea over commission for women

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:35 AM IST
  • The medical fitness team of the Army tested close to 615 women SSC officers entitled for permanent commission, following the apex court judgment, on five counts: psychiatry, height, appendage (bone structure), physical and eye and ear.
Close
Cities in southern and western India, which perform the best on the more tangible indicators, have the lowest positive bias in their overall scores on account of CPS. The CPS bias is also higher in smaller cities than larger ones.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Cities in southern and western India, which perform the best on the more tangible indicators, have the lowest positive bias in their overall scores on account of CPS. The CPS bias is also higher in smaller cities than larger ones.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

N-E cities have the strongest feel-good factor

By Roshan Kishore, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:19 AM IST
  • The EOL report has calculated its overall scores on the basis of four parameters: quality of life, economic ability, sustainability and citizen perception.
Close
The EoL index evaluates the performance its cities across four pillars — quality of life, economic ability, sustainability and citizen perception.(File photo)
The EoL index evaluates the performance its cities across four pillars — quality of life, economic ability, sustainability and citizen perception.(File photo)

Economic might led Bengaluru to top

By Sharan Poovanna
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:07 AM IST
  • Bengaluru, India’s technology capital, is an economic powerhouse on account of the presence of some of the world’s largest corporations.
Close
But party insiders said he was forced to withdraw his comments after the central leadership expressed serious reservations about them.(PTI)
But party insiders said he was forced to withdraw his comments after the central leadership expressed serious reservations about them.(PTI)

BJP names Metro Man as its Kerala CM face, then retracts

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:32 AM IST
  • K Surendran, the state BJP president who made the original announcement claimed he was quoted out of context.
Close
The fire in Similipal biosphere reserve came at a time when Odisha topped the list of forest fire incidents with 8688 fire spots since February 25 as per the Forest Survey of India’s fire alerts system. (ANI PHOTO).
The fire in Similipal biosphere reserve came at a time when Odisha topped the list of forest fire incidents with 8688 fire spots since February 25 as per the Forest Survey of India’s fire alerts system. (ANI PHOTO).

Similipal blaze contained, Odisha asks for rapid response to forest fires

By Debabrata Mohanty
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:38 AM IST
  • The biosphere reserve spread over an area of 5569 sq km contributes 38% of the total protected area network in Odisha. It is also one of the oldest tiger reserves in the country having the largest zone of Sal trees.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP