A Pack of Lies

Editorial: April 2013

Hardnews Bureau Delhi

After the suicide bombers rammed their hijacked aircrafts on the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City on September 11, 2001, George W Bush decided to declare war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. We will smoke them out, he said. As US bombers and missiles turned Kabul and other cities into rubble, and while thousands were killed in this war, one question was never adequately answered. What evidence did the US government have to unleash this unilateral war? The same distressing question resonated again when Bush attacked Iraq. Did they have an iota of evidence that Saddam Hussain’s Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), or that it had some role to play in the 9/11 attack? The answer was rigged. So why did the US decide to blow up $2 trillion in a war that brought such mass suffering and violence and contributed to the mindless global recession of 2008? 

Apart from the ‘blood for oil’ agenda, these two incidents reordered our world in a hopelessly tragic way. It also highlighted the importance of old fashioned police investigations and forensics to zero in on a crime. If the neo-con Bush regime had not succumbed to Rightwing hawks, and allowed an impartial investigation, the trail would have gone elsewhere. What we witnessed, instead, was the investigation fitting into a partisan narrative that gave flesh to Samuel Huntington’s shallow thesis of “Clash of Civilization”. Grandly declared as “Global War on Terror” by a bullish Bush and his hawkish buddies like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, this bloody campaign, especially in Iraq, redefined how investigators in different parts of the world perceived crime, often with an abjectly prejudiced view. Mafia operations like money laundering, gun-running, counterfeit currency and drug trafficking -- everything was lumped together and linked with acts of terror. Similarly, identity and grassroots struggles and freedom movements were also branded terrorist, as was the case in racist South Africa and Latin America. While this facile classification helped nation-states challenged by multiple movements to dub freedom fighters as terrorists and slap draconian terror laws, it did great harm to issues of pluralism and lent a violent edge to xenophobia and majoritarianism. Police and criminal investigations began to tailor evidence to fit this biased narrative. 

The tragic case of surrendered Kashmiri militant Liyaqat Ali Shah is a diabolical pointer on how the Delhi Police Special Cell operates; and how it is brazenly trapped in the jumble of a pack of lies

In India, this ‘war against terror’ reignited the atavistic passions of Partition and began to give legitimacy to the hate-based politics of Hindutva forces. It also threatened the fragile secularism project based on a Constitution that promised justice, secular accommodation and fair play. India had suffered intensely from colonial policing which was brutish and oppressive, but nothing seems to have changed in the post-independence era. Almost as a nasty ritual, the minority community and the poor unilaterally face the infinite tentacles of systemic injustice. Indeed, the scenario has worsened since 2001. 

Bomb blasts that gripped the country during the NDA (and UPA) rule were invariably blamed on Muslims. Many innocents were arrested, tortured, brutalised. An unquestioning media toed the line and reproduced this stereotype without any critical and objective investigation. Hasty and politically motivated probes condemned young professional Muslims, who were desperately trying to mainstream themselves in a difficult and unequal world. Their lives have been ruined, even while Hindutva terror groups with RSS links were found to be involved in several blasts. 

The tragic case of surrendered Kashmiri militant Liyaqat Ali Shah is a diabolical pointer on how the notorious Delhi Police Special Cell operates; and how it is brazenly trapped in the jumble of a pack of lies. Are they not accountable to the home ministry and the ‘secular’ government of the day? 

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: APRIL 2013