What Amiss Antulay Did?

SOROOR AHMED questions why a storm has been raised on Antulay’s demand for a thorough investigation in Karkare’s death. He compares this with Arif Mohammad Khan’s public attack on Rajiv Gandhi’s Bill on Muslim Personal Law which was hailed by Opposition and journalists.

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SOROOR AHMED

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SOROOR AHMED questions why a storm has been raised on Antulay’s demand for a thorough investigation in Karkare’s death. He compares this with Arif Mohammad Khan’s public attack on Rajiv Gandhi’s Bill on Muslim Personal Law which was hailed by Opposition and journalists.

Abdur Rahman Antulay is not the first person to raise suspicion over the manner in which the Anti-Terrorist Squad chief, Hemant Karkare, along with other top police officials, was killed. And he is not the last one too. Immediately after his speech the Rashtriya Janata Dal Member of Parliament, Devendra Prasad Yadav, supported his view, as his leader, Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad, nodded approvingly. A day later the Rajya Sabha MP of Janata Dal (United), Dr Ejaz Ali, spoke on the similar lines. This notwithstanding the fact that his party has alliance with the BJP.

The needle of suspicion was first pointed towards the detractors of Karkare by Amaresh Misra, a well-known historian and author of War of Civilizations: India AD 1857 (Volume I –The Road to Delhi; & Volume II- The Long Revolution) – and several others – hours after the terrorists were silenced on November 29. This was even before the Pakistani media started doing so. The refusal of Karkare’s widow to meet the Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, and rejection of Rupees one crore offer by her was also interpreted in different ways in different quarters. Within a couple of days the internet was bombarded with varied views on the issue.

Amaresh Misra was even heckled at a condolence meeting in Mumbai organised to condemn the mayhem in that city. Several newspapers, even a handful of Hindi ones, initially raised several serious posers on the whole series of events. Some Urdu newspapers, in particular, Rashtriya Sahara, picked up from there and questioned the established version about the Mumbai terror attack. A couple of opinion-makers even went on to write that the real target was Karkare and his men as they were about to crack the case involving Pragya Singh Thakur, Colonel Purohit and others. They are of the opinion that the whole bloody drama was enacted to camouflage the real goal. Had only the three police officials been killed then it would have raised a storm.

Amaresh Misra saw the RSS-Zionist connection in the whole incident and to substantiate his points he quoted different people and local newspaper reports. A prominent national English daily even reported that no post mortem was done on the bodies of the Jews killed in the Nariman House and they were taken to Israel. A couple of magazines too came up with different views on the whole 3-day blood-bath. However, the television channels were unanimous in their opinion and hardly allowed the other view to creep in.

The only thing different is that Antulay, unlike the above public opinion-makers, is minorities affairs minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet, who took a totally different line on the issue. There is a general perception among the opinion-makers that a minister can air his personal views only after putting in his papers as the cabinet works as a team. This is an established principle in a democracy.

But when Arif Mohammad Khan did take a totally different view in 1986, on the issue of Muslim Personal Law, and publicly attacked his own Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the floor of the House, for toeing the line of, what he said, the Muslim fundamentalists, he was praised to the sky by the same media. Many of the journalists who are today seeking Antulay’s resignation solidly stood behind Arif Mohammad Khan when he quit the cabinet after that direct attack on then Prime Minister. At that time they said that in a democracy a minister has the right to disagree. What has happened to them today?

On December 17, 2008 when Antulay spoke against the established view he was pilloried not just by the BJP but by many secular elements in the media. None else but Outlook editor, Vinod Mehta, and former Editor of the Times of India, Dileep Padgoankar, called for Antulay’s sacking. They alleged that he was toeing the view held by Pakistan.

The big question is: if the anti-established view is totally baseless and on the line of Pakistan then why was it allowed to gain ground in the country for so many days? Why was it not denied by any government agency or minister? What was the government’s public relation department doing all these days? After all it was not just the Muslim view as it is now being made out in some other circles as well.

It is now being propagated that the Indian Muslims, like Pakistanis, are in the denial mode. Media pundits alleged that by speaking out against the established view Antulay has toed the Pakistani line. Are men like Amaresh Misra, the owner of Rashtriya Sahara, Subroto Roy, RJD leaders and several others who are giving space to other versions following the Pakistani line? Certainly not. They are doing so simply because for the first time in the history top police officials who were about to crack a very important case of terror were being eliminated days after they were being publicly accused of being traitors, anti-Hindu, etc. It is true Antulay wants to make political capital from it? But what benefits are others going to get? They are doing so at their personal risk as they are becoming unpopular among their own community.

When the World Trade Centre and Pentagon were hit by the hijacked aircraft, it was not any Muslim who said that it was the inside job. In fact several American journalists and opinion-makers were the first to raise doubts. And they were not dubbed as Osama Bin Laden’s men.

To question any established view does not mean that you are in the enemy’s camp. This fascist view was in fact expressed by none else but now outgoing US President George W Bush, when he said that “you are either with us or against us.”

Antulay, who is also a former Maharashtra chief minister, has sought thorough probe into Karkare’s killing only after having reached to a certain conclusion. He may be a Muslim, but what about another former state chief minister, Narayan Rane, who was also a senior minister in the Deshmukh cabinet. He too has raised serious questions. Rane was in the Shiv Sena before he joined Congress.

Antulay may be totally wrong and is playing to the gallery. But may one ask as to why so many mediapersons expressed their happiness in their respective offices when the first report of Karkare’s killing came on the midnight of November 26-27. In the office of a premier national daily there was a heated exchange of words when a relatively senior scribe chided the journalists present there for celebrating the death of an honest and upright police officer.