Sorry spectacle

The stout defence of former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah, who has been arrested by the CBI in a murder case, by chief minister Narendra Modi and the BJP does not carry conviction. The minister, who was responsible for maintaining law and order in the state, has been chargesheeted for murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence. The killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausarbi and another person, Tulsiram Prajapati, in a fake encounter by the Gujarat police five years ago had received national attention. The Gujarat police tried to bury the case and it is on the supreme court’s instructions that the CBI is investigating it now. A number of senior police officers of the state have been booked by the CBI and Shah’s involvement has come to light in the course of the investigations. Since Modi was the home minister when the murders took place and Shah is close to him, his conduct is also likely to come under the scanner.

That is why Modi and the BJP have gone on the offensive charging the CBI with framing the minister under instructions from the Central government. Though the CBI is known to be subservient to the Centre and to act at its behest, in the present case the investigations are directed by the apex court. Therefore the charge of frame-up by Modi and the BJP does not sound genuine. There was also the sorry spectacle of the minister evading the CBI’s summons and going into hiding. His resignation and surrender to the CBI came about when there were no other options left. It is a poor comment not only on the minister’s but also on the BJP’s commitment to the rule of law.

Modi had once claimed that Sohrabuddin was a terrorist with links to Pakistan. No evidence has surfaced to prove that. He is now found to have been a common criminal and an extortionist  involved with businessmen with whom Shah had links. The killing of even a criminal is a crime. If Shah is innocent he has a chance to prove it in the court.

That is the correct and honourable position the BJP should have taken. Of course, the UPA government will have to demonstrate its ‘impartiality’ by letting the CBI to go with equal vigour in corruption cases involving UP chief minister Mayawati and former CM, Mulayam Singh Yadav as well.

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