Jamadi Awwal 1424 H
Volume 16-07 No : 199
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The Indian Government’s reported ‘agreeing in principle’ to release British terrorist Peter Bleach currently undergoing a jail sentence in a West Bengal jail after being convicted of abetting element, waging a war against India, makes disturbing reading. One is left in doubt if the Vajpayee Government is serious in its much publicised effort to combat terrorism. The reported move to grant him clemency makes it evident that the Government applies different yardsticks when it comes to dealing with terrorists from different backgrounds.
The request to free Peter Bleach has come from British Prime Minister Tony Blair who recently waged a war against Iraq on the fictitious pretext of the latter not making its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) public, something which the US and the UK have been unable to detect despite the official end of the war. And on India’s part, the consent for the British hooligan’s release has been granted by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister L. K Advani, the chief campaigner against cross-border terrorism and propagator of India’s victimhood.
Peter Bleach was not an ordinary rowdy, but an international terrorist though fair-skinned. His crimes included hiring aircraft and Latvian mercenaries from Russia and air-dropping arms over hide-outs of militants over Purulia district of West Bengal. He was convicted by a court of law and sentenced to undergo a life sentence. India granted clemency to five Latvian terrorists on July 22, 2000 after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin put in a word. For the sake of speedy release, the five terrorists had taken Russian citizenship while being tried in India.
Peter Bleach’s release-if indeed it materialises-is all likely to undermine India’s credibility as a champion against world terrorism. It would only expose the hollowness of our commitment to stamping out terrorism. Should the terrorism of the Western variety be condoned and granted Presidential clemency, and terror suspects of domestic variety incarcerated under Pota for unknown periods?
As for Tony Blair and the British government, their credentials need not be exposed any more. His fawning loyalty to the Bush Administration in matters of the Iraq war has done more than enough to show that country’s dubious claims towards justice, democracy and peace in true light. Having openly requested the release of terrorist Bleach, Blair has shown that the West is interested in pursuing terrorists only when they have beards and callused foreheads or have Middle eastern appearance. Finally, a word about the ‘free media of the West’. Should we tell them that the West does harbour terrorists with fair skins beyond the terror apparatus that their own governments maintain in the name of army.
Queer are the moves by the National Commission for Minorities which has in recent months roped itself into sycophancy of the Sangh Parivar even without being asked by anyone in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. Its new Chairman Tarlochan Singh has dredged newer depths in showing himself on the side of the powers that be. The tilting towards the NDA Government had begun during the tenure of the previous Chairman, Mr. Justice M. Shameem who had volunteered to mediate between the Sangh Parivar and the Minorities under the name of reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims.
The Minorities Commission, being an autonomous Constitutional body, could be legitimately authorised to carry out all such measures that bolster or buttress the status of Minorities in India. But no one knows from where the Commission drew sanction for conferring on the Sangh Parivar the status of being representative of Hindus. The Parivar does not share even a fraction of confidence of the large body of Hindu masses who are extremely tolerant and harbour a wide cultural variety and sociological diversity within. And nowhere the Commission statutes speak of it acting as a mediation body between various communities. The National Integration Council could have been a better forum for such measures.
That may just be a case of overstepping the jurisdiction. But the Commission has gone beyond this. Last month, it declared the ‘trishul diksha samaroh’ (ceremonies to distribute tridents) as harmless. This coincided with expression of disgust - no one knows how genuine it was - by Home Minister L. K. Advani. Such a certification of legitimacy from the Minorities Commission was least expected. Next the Commission has called a meeting for the review of the Madrassa curriculum. This is another foray into an uncharted territory and clearly amounts to the Commission poking its nose into something that is not on its agenda, notwithstanding the constant refrain from saner sections of the Muslim community for need to go for such an overhauling of the theological syllabi.
The Commission more than being reminded of its Constitutional duties, needs to be told that such sycophancy may deliver some more lavish assignments for its Chairman, but would jeopardise the Commission’s credentials as a body that is supposed to act as a conscience keeper and a monitor for the nation’s treatment of its large body of minorities.