There are no ‘turns’ when it comes to justice
Now that judge P D Kode has completed sentencing the terrorists who carried out the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai, isn’t it only right that we bring to justice the culprits named in the Marwah Commission (1984), Misra Commission (1985), Kapur Mittal Committee (1987), Jain Banerjee Committee (1987), Potti Rosha Committee (1990), Jain Aggarwal Committee (1990), Ahuja Committee (1987), Dhillon Committee (1985), Narula Committee (1993) and the Nanavati Commission (2004)? Ten commissions of enquiry later many of the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms are still waiting for justice.
For that matter, isn’t it time that we properly investigated the LTTE’s alleged collaborators named in the Jain Commission report, for their involvement in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, a former prime minister of the country?
You don’t even hear about these cases in the Indian media these days, and a generation of Indians is growing up unaware that these outrageous incidents even occurred. What else should we call this but a conspiracy of silence.
But you’ll notice that there is no inherent logic in these arguments—for what’s the connection between the sentencing of terrorists in one case and the prosecution of those accused of those other outrageous crimes? So isn’t it rather strange that Sagarika Ghose—a leading television journalist—argues that now that you’ve punished the (Muslim) terrorists who carried out the blasts, it’s time for you to punish the (mainly Hindu) rioters who were involved in the communal riots that preceded the attacks.
Let there be no mistake—the perpetrators of the communal riots need to be punished, and the sooner the better. But we must not allow the likes of Sagarika Ghose confuse us to the reasons why. The rioters deserve punishment because they committed the most heinous crimes. Not because it’s the turn of the Hindus now that the Muslims have had theirs.
Yet reading Ghose’s article, or following the discussions on her husband’s television news channel, you cannot but notice that this is exactly what they are calling for. Their argument is not simply that police and prosecutors are communally biased against Muslims. Their argument goes further—that the justice system ought to be communally biased. That to assuage the misgivings of the Muslim community, cases involving Hindu culprits (and Muslim victims) must be given their turn. Such an argument not only does the Muslims a disservice by portraying them as thirsting for communal vengeance through the justice system. It also ultimately leads to such perverse political behaviour as the UPA government asking investigators to back off from completing their investigations into recent acts of terrorism, carried out by jihadi outfits, for fear of deepening Muslim misgivings.
There’s a good reason why the statue of justice is always shown blindfolded. That’s because justice does not remain justice if the blindfolds come off. In arguing that it is the Muslims’ ‘turn’ to get justice, Sagarika Ghose is asking for those blindfolds to be discarded at the altar of a self-styled sense of secularism. That argument is an enemy of justice, just as it is an enemy of secularism. Terrorists might have thought that bomb blasts were an appropriate response for communal riots. It would be a shame if Indian society accepted their justification.