Centre and Gujarat Government gun for whistleblowers and dissenters

India is losing several of its good men and women because of the establishment’s witch hunt, systematic harassment and the failure of the judiciary to protect them

Centre and Gujarat Government gun for whistleblowers and  dissenters

Aakar Patel

Do you know a man named Rahul Sharma?

Read this report from 2002:

"Bhavnagar in Saurashtra, central Gujarat had never experienced a communal riot in the past. This time, large properties belonging to Muslims were targeted and destroyed.
The attack in Bhavnagar was launched on March 1, 2002.

Vile and unsubstantiated reports published in local newspapers about the local madrassa, Darul Uloom Kakor Nagar, led a manic mob to blockade it. They were threatening to burn alive 455 innocent Muslim children boarding there who were trapped inside.
The role of the SP Bhavnagar, Rahul Sharma, is indeed worthy of note. Sharma fired on a mob that was trying to set the madrassa on fire and put all its leaders behind bars. By his prompt arrival, leading his men and firm action, 400-odd young lives were saved.

The surrounding area was engulfed by fire from all four sides. The road outside was piled with burning tyres, 2 ft. high, making escape impossible. The entrapped children described their brush with death thus:

“We had lost all hope and thought our last moment had arrived. In anticipation of death we started reciting the Kalimah (Word of God). In the meanwhile, we saw SP Rahul Sharma drive through the fire, and approach our building, calling us out to get into the truck. We promptly obeyed and he drove us through 2 ft. high flames of burning tyres, saving all 455 of us. He did not appear to care for his own life then. We were later transferred to Ibrahim Masjid.”

On the evening of March 1, when mobs were prowling the streets, the Bhavnagar police, who had never faced a riot before, seemed, momentarily, to lose confidence.

“Sensing that my men were hesitating, I got out and fired the first round and they immediately joined me. We managed to disperse the mob and did not allow them to regroup,” Sharma told the media at the time. For this, Sharma had to face the heat from political ‘bosses.’"

A report from 2018 says that Sharma was denied a promotion and sought early retirement. He is today a lawyer in Ahmedabad.

Centre and Gujarat Government gun for whistleblowers and  dissenters

Do you know a man named Satish Verma?

Read this report from 2016:

"The Chief Vigilance Officer of North-Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), Satish Verma, whose report against Union minister Kiren Rijiju has given the opposition a handle to attack the Centre, had a turbulent history with the Gujarat government when PM Narendra Modi served the state as the CM.

Verma, a 1986-batch IPS officer, had courted controversy by declaring before the Gujarat high court in 2010 that Ishrat Jahan was killed in a fake encounter and police officers were trying to sabotage the investigation.

In a dramatic turnaround, the accused cops, who were reluctant for a CBI probe into the case, conceded to the demand by Ishrat's family for the same when the HC made Verma part of the special investigation team (SIT) probing the encounter.

The case was transferred to the CBI, but the agency sought Verma's assistance in the investigation. Subsequently, the HC asked the state government to spare Verma's services to the CBI.

However, soon after Modi took charge in Delhi in May 2014, the CBI said it did not require Verma's services anymore.

Centre and Gujarat Government gun for whistleblowers and  dissenters

Do you know a man named Rajnish Rai?

Read this report from March this year:

"Nearly four months after he chose early retirement, IPS officer Rajnish Rai continues to fight a legal battle with the Union as well as state government. Rai is known for probing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case and arresting a dozen accused including three IPS colleagues in a case where Amit Shah was also named as an accused.

Rai has now approached the Gujarat High Court over the issue of his voluntary retirement which the government has not accepted and instead has put him under suspension.
Rai was posted in Chittoor in 2017 following his damning report on a suspected fake encounter during a joint counter-insurgency operation in Assam in which two alleged insurgents were killed.”

Centre and Gujarat Government gun for whistleblowers and  dissenters

Do you know a man named Sanjiv Bhatt?

I am sure you know about Sanjiv Bhatt, who is today in jail. He is also an IPS officer who attacked the Modi government for its handling of the Gujarat riots. He has been convicted for the death in custody of a Kar Sevak during the Ayodhya movement, in which Modi himself arranged for the first leg of LK Advani’s Rath Yatra. It is the only conviction of an IPS officer for custodial death in recent history.

Elsewhere in India, individuals who are seen as resisting the majoritarian thrust of this government are being put away or taken care of.

See this report from only a few days ago:

"In the last month or so – since this government was sworn in – a couple of things have happened: the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a case against journalist Raghav Bahl for alleged laundering of funds; the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) issued an order against Radhika Roy and Prannoy Roy, promoters of NDTV, restraining them from accessing the financial markets for two years and stripped them of directorships of their broadcast television channel; an FIR was filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Anand Grover, well-known lawyer, and an NGO he runs, the Lawyers Collective for violating rules of accepting foreign funds."

In Uttar Pradesh, the Adityanath government booked rapper Hard Kaur for sedition for social media posts against the chief minister and Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Earlier, journalist Prashant Kanojia had been arrested for social media posts against the chief minister and is now out on bail.

The attack on journalism has been long in the making. Politically also, it has been a key tactic of the Modi government to keep opponents busy with legal matters so that they are away from politics. When you read stories about individuals like Shashi Tharoor and P Chidambaram, keep this in mind.
Having sorted out dissenters and opponents in the police, media and politics, the government has also gone after civil society. The jailing of the nine individuals in the Bhima Koregaon case is shameful. One cannot comment on the role of the judiciary in this but let us just say that it has not been satisfactory.

Students are being given bail in India after the judge takes the assurance that they will not indulge in “anti-national activity.” What is anti-national activity? Which law defines it? Does the constitution refer to it? No.

But the courts seem convinced that they know what it is and they are sure that they can spot it.

We are losing good people. We are losing them because this government is forcing them out of service, and it is forcing them out of their calling and professions. They did what they are being punished for because they are good people, because they are good Indians.

All of us should be ashamed of what is happening to them, and that it is happening without resistance from the rest of us.

Ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt
Ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt

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