By Dr Sandeep Pandey
06 October, 2008
I've often been blamed by friends and colleagues for not keeping secrets to myself. It has been my practice to share information with people whenever I feel my conscience burdened. From my experience I can say that whenever I've, under such circumstances, shared the truth, it may have put some people in inconvenient positions but in the long run it proved to be right thing to do. But, I must confess, I've never encountered something as big as this. Till now it has been only very personal things or at the most matters dealing with my friends or colleagues. But the information I possess now is of societal and national significance. I'm revealing it because it can save two lives. I'm quite aware, that in the process, I'm raising a finger at the departments concerned with internal and external security of the country and can possibly attract some punitive action too. But when I weighed the pros and cons of this I was convinced that if by revealing this information lives of two youth can be saved then I must do it. I must take the risk.
The UP Police in a planned joint operation with the army is likely to kill two Kashmiri youth (obviously Muslim), already picked up and in their custody somewhere in Meerut , in an `encounter' with these `dreaded terrorists.' The drama would be enacted in the Lucknow cantonment area, the most plausible location for an anti-national to be encountered in. Two AK-47 guns, already bought from Nepal and brought through the Bahraich route, would be shown to have been recovered from these `terrorists. ' Very high level police officials and Colonels of the Army are involved in planning this Jamia Nagar encounter equivalent of UP level operation. An encounter specialist, posted at the Cantonment Police Station till recently, has been chosen to implement the design. Recently, UP police has been presented in poor light because of contradictory (and competitive) claims made by Delhi and Mumbai police for having arrested terrorists which they claim were responsible for bomb blast incidents in UP. The question raised then is who are the people the UP police has arrested earlier who are being claimed to be responsible for these same incidents. UP police doesn't want to remain behind in the game of bravery now being played by police elsewhere. They are anxious to demonstrate that they too can carry out high profile encounter operations like the one at Jamia Nagar in Delhi . It is a different matter that civil society groups and some media have questioned the bona fides of the Jamia Nagar operation itself and the credibility of the government is at stake.
The objective of the above operation is to bring laurels to UP police. The operation would be justified in the name of national interest. UP is under pressure because it has been projected as the breeding ground for terrorist. The UP police wants to show that it is doing its part in countering terrorism.
If this is true then nothing can be more shameful. Most of the newspaper reading citizens would go along with the police version and not question it in the national interest if such an operation takes place. However, I've decided that my commitment to my nation is in ensuring justice to its citizens or at least questioning what is not just. Killing of innocent citizens in such operations or incidents like hunger deaths and farmer suicides are all government's responsibility and no such incident can be pardoned.
However, if what I've written above is totally based on imagination run wild and doesn't have an iota of truth in it then I'll be most relieved person, because I shudder to think that responsible government institutions could be engaged in such gross things. I obviously apologize to the police and army for having questioned their integrity. But the fact of the matter is that police has lost so much credibility in this country that I thought it fit to bring out the matter in open for the sake of two Kashmiri youth. We hope that not only they will not be `encountered' but no innocent will be subjected to such a fate, ever.
Dr Sandeep Pandey is one of the founders and early volunteers of Asha for Education, New York. He was awarded the 2002 Ramon Magsaysay Award in the Emergent Leadership category for his work towards uplift of the poor and the underprivileged. He is currently Coordinator for Asha-India and devotes time to the Asha Ashram at Lalpur in UP.
He can be contacted at the following address:
Dr. Sandeep Pandey
A-893, Indira Nagar, Lucknow-226016, U.P.