MUHARRAM - SAFAR 1424 H
Volume 17-03 No : 207
Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us
|Now you can pay your subscriptions online|
By Maqbool Ahmed Siraj
In a swap of convenience, India and Britain, have quietly buried a case of international terrorism in which no terrorist of Islamic variety was involved. On February 6, Government of India released British terrorist Peter Bleach from a Kolkata prison and British Deputy High Commission personnel secretly escorted the white hooligan out of Indian borders on a British Airways plane to London. What compelled India, which had all these years tom-tommed its victimhood at the hands of cross-border terrorists at the world fora, to 'decided in principle' to free Peter Bleach will remain a mystery. But it appears for sure that it was an attempt to gain some leverage in ties with Britain. But more brazen is the British attitude which had urged freeing of this international hooligan of British citizenship, one convicted by an Indian court and who had been passing a 12-year jail sentence.
The way the whole operation was carried out swiftly, subtly nay stealthily, smacks of two sides entering into an arrangement to condone and conceal the complicity of a terrorist who did not belong to the usually reviled variety of people of Middle Eastern origin. More surprising is the Indian acquiescence vis-à-vis a confirmed and jailed terrorist who had passed two-thirds of his sentence. Normally, 98 per cent of those incarcerated under the draconian 'Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act' (Pota) in Indian jails are merely under-trials, not convicts.
Perhaps the news item would not have seen much ink of the print in Britain. But Indian dailies have carried reports about British Prime Minister Tony Blair having requested release of the hoodlum.
Peter Bleach was found guilty of dropping arms over the hide-outs of Anand Margis in Purulia district of West Bengal in 1995 from a hired aircraft. He and five others, all Russian citizens of Latvian origin, (Evguency Ambimenko, Alexander Klichin, Igor Moskovitin, Igor Timmerman and Oleg Gaidach) were later captured, found guilty, tried and convicted. Another accomplice, Kim Davy, a Dutch is still at large and is wanted by the West Bengal police. The arms were meant for Anand Margis, a secretive cult that has large number of followers all through India, but mainly in the state of West Bengal. Russians were freed three years ago (precisely, on July 24, 2000) after the President of India granted them clemency on the request of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. A 'Times of India' report dated July 22, 2000 had said that the mercenaries were Latvians, but took on Russian citizenship in the hope of a speedy release. Putin, prime minister of another 'victim of terrorism' nation did not bat an eyelid while asking the clemency. However, Latvians' sins were not much serious as they were mere mercenaries and had been hired by the British hoodlum Bleach. British Deputy High Commission official had visited Bleach in his cell on February 24, 2001 and assured him that they would press for the then British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's request to Indian Government for his release.
But Peter Bleach's sins were not so pardonable. He had headed a terror apparatus and there was an international conspiracy involved in aiding Anand margis. Even during his India visit (January 3-5, 2002) Prime Minister Tony Blair had raised the issue with the Indian leadership.
Though release has been affected, the Indian Home Ministry was not favourably disposed towards letting off Bleach, who is the main conspirator in the Purulia arms drop case. Officials in the legal department of the Home Ministry had said on a previous occasion that they will oppose - in writing - any move seeking Bleach's release. They say Bleach was the main conspirator in the arms drop case, and if released, he can influence the investigations.
Though a confirmed case of terrorism, the British government had been shying away from defending the culprit and had been merely seeking Bleach's release on the question of parity, more euphemistically mentioned as equality before law. The plea was: Since the five Latvians accused in the case were released three years ago, why not Bleach.
Several quarters within India had opposed release of Bleach. Former director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, Joginder Singh believes that no legal official or bureaucrat would ever believe that a person who had been involved in such a major conspiracy should be released. Even Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had turned down a request for Bleach's release a few months ago. But later, it seems, the government began to look at this as an opportunity to gain political leverage.
Minister of State for Home I. D. Swami is on record (as reported by NDTV.com) having said 'If Bleach's release could further India's interest and improve relations with a friendly nation, there was nothing wrong in re-examining the case'.
The case stands a testimony to the fact that terrorism of the white racial variety does not concern the West as the one perpetrated by inhabitants of the Arab or Muslim world or Muslims living elsewhere. The Russian President or the British Prime Minister feel no qualm in seeking clemency for even convicts and bringing quiet diplomatic pressure to get them freed even while applying draconian laws to detain the Muslim suspects. And as for the poor third world countries, if releasing a white terrorist earns them a little proximity with the Western 'champions of liberty, justice and democracy', no harm in obliging them till it serves their purpose of gaining some leverage against their own poor neighbours.
One therefore is constrained to question if all the Western bruehaha over terrorism is merely about catching a few men sporting beards and calluses on the forehead. Nothing pays more than vilifying Muslims, it appears. Finally, no one in the free Indian media, ever dubbed Peter Bleach a terrorist. For them it was merely a "British convict". What a travesty of media objectivity?
Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us