Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently announced that the Central government is working on a plan to provide legal protection to security agencies such as the IB and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which conduct undercover operations on “suspected terrorist organisations”. At a conference of officials of the Intelligence Bureau and other investigating agencies, the Home Minister is reported to have said that “The government is committed to punishing terrorists. We are considering legal protection for undercover operations, the use of intelligence collected as evidence, and the entire gamut of issues relevant to combating terrorism”.
It is a well-known and well established fact that framing innocent persons as “terrorists”, jailing, torturing and sometimes even killing them, killing of persons in fake “encounters” and then declaring them to be “dreaded terrorists” with “incriminating evidence” planted on them, extraction of ‘confessions’ by third-degree methods and use of such ‘confessions’ as evidence by the police, torture and custodial deaths of suspects and undertrials, disposing off the dead bodies in unmarked graves or by throwing them into canals and rivers to destroy medical evidence – all these are part of the standard operating procedure of police and intelligence officials, carried out in the name of “combatting terror”. These have been part of the established methods of state terrorism in Punjab in the 80s and 90s; they are regularly practiced on thousands of innocent Muslim youth all over the country, many of whom are acquitted by the courts after being forced to languish in jail for several years. They are routinely practised in Kashmir and the Northeastern states.
It may be recalled that IB officials had been accused and charged ofa false intelligence input, in the fake encounter case in Gujarat in June 2004, when the 19 year old college student IshratJehan and three other persons were gunned down by the state police. It was reported that the then joint director of the IB in Gujarat, Rajinder Kumar allegedly tipped off the police that IshratJehan and her companions were “terrorists plottingto murder the then Chief Minister NarendraModi”. The CBI claimed that it had found no evidence to justify that IB input and charged three serving officers as well as the former IB director, Rajinder Kumar, of murder and criminal conspiracy.The CBI had sought the government’s sanction to prosecute these IB officials but the sanction was denied by Rajnath’sHome Ministry. The police and IB officials involved in the case were acquitted earlier this year. NarendraModi’s close aide and former Gujarat Home Minister, Amit Shah,was also questioned by the CBI in that case and later given a clean chit by the courts.
The government now plans to provide legal protection to agencies such as the IB and the NIA, i.e. to protect them from any check on their activities which might otherwise be in violation of the law and to protect them from criminal prosecution. This clearly indicates that the state will continue and intensify the use of state terrorism, to intimidate and terrorise people into submission, to divert, divide and crush the struggle of the people against the anti-social offensive of the bourgeoisie.