The acquittal of five accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case brings us back to an intractable, but familiar, problem when the prosecution fails: who killed the nine people and injured scores of others? National Investigation Agency has registered another miserable failure to its credibility. Sixty-six material witnesses turned hostile, a reflection of the agency’s incompetence or political pressures on witnesses. If so many witnesses oppose the prosecution case, someone in NIA must pay for taking the system for a ride. Recall that three agencies – Hyderabad police, CBI and NIA – probed the case and each seems to have magnified, instead of rectifying, initial errors.
Hyderabad police arrested 20 Muslim youths but CBI wasn’t impressed and found a common strand between the Malegaon, Samjhauta, Ajmer Dargah and Mecca Masjid blasts. While a Jaipur NIA court convicted RSS worker Devendra Gupta for the Ajmer blast, he has been acquitted in the Mecca Masjid blast. Both Jaipur and Hyderabad NIA courts rejected Swami Aseemanand’s judicial confession, the major peg on which the cases rested. In 2011, Aseemanand repudiated his statement to a magistrate claiming it was made under CBI pressure.
It is time to videograph confession statements so that trial judges can look at the demeanour of the magistrate, accused persons, and investigating officers. Each failure of probe agencies diminishes public confidence in the police and justice system. However, BJP and Congress have started a political blame game that only exposes the influence governments wield over agencies. With the investigations completed during UPA-2 and prosecution progressing through NDA years the flaws during both periods are too blatant to ignore. Rather than check terror, these political parties are doing a great disservice by scoring communal points in terror investigations.
This is dangerous and disheartening for police and intelligence agencies instrumental in busting terror plots and communal riots. A consensus on isolating threats to state and public order should not be so difficult, given that most politicians swear by nationalism. However, vote bank politics has polarised the country. The state must answer to survivors and relatives of victims over its failure to dispense justice. NIA’s latest failure comes after its farcical pursuit of love jihad in Kerala. Thrusting India’s premier anti-terror agency in pursuit of a divisive agenda aimed at driving a wedge between consenting adults lowered its stature. NIA and CBI must act to regain their lost credibility.
-Times of India