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Mainstream, VOL LV No 34 New Delhi August 12, 2017

In the Grip of Political Mafia

Saturday 12 August 2017, by Humra Quraishi



Today, there is not just dismay but sorrow spreading out, as this land is in the grip of a political mafia, holding sway on all possible fronts. Hopelessness all around, to such an extent that I don’t really feel ‘azaad’ in this Azaad nation. Have to think a hundred times before I can decide what to wear or eat or even greet. Yes, if my as-salaam-alaikums (may peace be on you) are rather loud and clear then all eyes turn on me! Yes, in all possible spheres one is being made to feel the ‘other’.

We are sitting like mute spectators, seeing our land so very craftily destroyed by the ruling mafia, hell-bent on ruining this land. In fact, this morning as I sat re-reading Khushwant Singh’s‘ The end of India (Penguin), I marvelled at his sheer farsightedness. In that slim volume he had warned us of the dangers of fascism making inroads, creeping right into our courtyards. Look around you, see how the Right-wing brigades are out there, killing and murdering—humans and institutions and much more. Fear looms large as opportunist Chief Ministers are joining the destructive forces!

Spotlight on D.G. Vanzara! 

Earlier this week, as I read news reports that the special CBI court has discharged former IPS officer from Gujarat D.G. Vanzara and Rajasthan cadre IPS officer Dinesh M.N. in the case of alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, I sat back rather rattled. Though nothing really shocks me in today’s times, but the fact stands out that I had been reading about Vanzara’s encounter killings-cum-torture tactics for the last few years. Yet he stands free, with a clean chit!

I have read about D.G. Vanzara and his ‘doings’ in at least two volumes but before I quote from those, let me fit in details to this particular case where D.G. Vanzara, a DIG-rank officer, was arrested on the charge of an alleged fake encounter.

Vanzara was arrested on April 24, 2007, in connection with the alleged fake encounter of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh who, the Gujarat Police claimed, had links with the Pakistan-based terror outfit, Lashkar-e-Toiba. ... Sheikh and his wife, Kausar Bi, were abducted by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maha-rashtra. Sheikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in 2005, after which his wife ‘disappeared’, in all probability killed. Prajapati, an eyewitness, was also allegedly killed by the police in 2006. The Sohrabuddin case was transferred to Mumbai in 2012 on the CBI’s request for a fair trial. In 2013, the Supreme Court clubbed the “fake encounter” case of Prajapati with that of Sheikh.

Now coming to the two volumes. I Am A Mufti and I Am Not A Terrorist—11 Years Behind the Bars written by Mufti Abdul Qayyum Ahmed Husain Mansuri, published by Jamat Ulama Ahmedabad and Maharashtra, carries details of the torture inflicted on the Mufti by Vanzara. Starting off from the day—August 17, 2003—when Mufti was “kidnapped through forgery and deceit” by men of Gujarat’s Crime Branch. And with that takes off the entire sequence —how this man was not just tortured—“third degree torture with beastly brutality” but also implicated in the Akshardham case. If one were to read even a couple of paragraphs from this book, it’s enough to make you grasp the level of torture inflicted on him by Vanzara and his three colleagues ...To quote from this book—”I saw red bearded Vanzara sahib wearing glasses sitting on the counter table and at his right some other officers were sitting, among them Singhal Sahab who was introduced last night. The other officers were P.I. V.D. Vanzara, P.I. R.I Patel were amongst the others who were introduced later ...I was made to sit on the floor near their shoes. Vanzara took the course of the conversation in his hands and repeated last night’s question that who had come from Hyderabad? I replied the same answer that Maulana Abdul Samad Sahab had given. Vanzara said: call the club (stick) party. (This club stick party was a group of five to six in humans, comprising of appalling, uncivilised persons who would rush upon like hungry wolves on the oppressed and helpless people and they used to beat them until they them-selves got tired or the victims be unconscious or dead) ...Hence the club party arrived whose dreadful faces were enough to frighten me. No sooner they came, they put handcuffs in my hands and one buffalo-like fat oppressor held me down from my waist, another caught hold of both my legs. In spite of my hands fettered in iron chains, two of them caught hold of both my shoulders and stood me facing the wall and V.D. Vanzara started hitting me on my back with great inhumanity.”

The other volume is, of course, R.B. Sree-kumar’s Gujarat: Behind The Curtain (Manas) where this whistle-blower top cop of the Gujarat cadre writes rather too candidly about D.G. Vanzara and his deeds! To quote Sreekumar from this book—“On September 5, 2002, I had sent an intelligence report to K.R. Kaushik, Commissioner of Police (Ahmedabad), informing that the recovery of indigenous firearms and arrest of Muslims in July 2002, on the eve of Rathyatra, was stage-managed by city Crime Branch DIG Vanzara. I requested the Commissioner of Police (Ahmedabad) to conduct due enquiries on this information. According to my sources, the recovered firearms were manufactured in a factory owned by local politicians (supporters of religious organisations) in Sabarkantha district and these planted on the arrested Muslims....”

Space constraints come in way of my detailing the alleged proximity of Vanzara with the top brass of Gujarat as mentioned in this book. I should say it’s one of those must reads, to grasp how the nexus works, between the partners in crime—the cops together with the bureaucracy and cops!

Just for your sampling, this letter of Vanzara published in this volume—“DIG D.G. Vanzara, jailed since April 2007 for the alleged guilt of committing fake encounters, in his resignation letter to the government of Gujarat, dated 1st September, 2013, captioned—‘Tendering of resignation from my service with renunciation of all post-retirement benefits’—wrote: ‘Gujarat CID/Union CBI had arrested me and my officers in different encounter cases, holding us to be responsible for carrying out alleged fake encounters, if that is true then the CBI investigating officers of all the 4 encounter cases of Sohrabuddin, Tulsi Ram, Sadiq Jamal and Ishrat Jahan have to arrest the policy-formulators also, as we, being field officers, have simply implemented the conscious policy of this government, which was inspiring, guiding and monitoring our actions from very close quarters. By this reasoning, I am of the firm opinion that the place of this government, instead of being in Gandhinagar, should either be in Taloja Central Prison at Navi Mumbai or in the Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad.’“

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