Millennium Post

So who is a terrorist anyway?

The Supreme Court is right in stating that the law enforcing agencies who deal with terrorism should be very cautious to not cause any harm or distress to any community- religious, ethnic or otherwise. The apex court gave out the statement while dealing with  a 1993 arms cache case in Jharnia village in Madhya Pradesh in which 60 arrests were made on charges of waging war against the nation, ostensibly after the Babri Masjid demolition controversy. The arms were reportedly brought to Ahmedabad for terrorist activities but when the plot was discovered they were hidden in the said village in the dry well of the chief accused Shohrabuddin Sheikh.  Later, in 2002, a special court had acquired 49 of them for lack of evidence. This was clearly an indication of the haphazard way that the arrests were made. In it’s judgement on Wednesday, the apex court has set aside the TADA court’s contention and have acquired the rest 11 for lack of evidence under the law under which they were arrested. The court has stated that police and lawmakers should be aware that such cases do not deteriorate into becoming slugfest for minority communities  in which they are demonised as being natural ‘enemies of the state’. This, the court says, becomes counterproductive in the long run and only manages to cause greater mistrust among communities. The court obviously had in mind the much maligned and the now repealed TADA act in which arrests could be made on suspicion or on flimsy grounds of being involved in terrorist activities. Instead of a law trying to nab the culprits, such cases, the court feels, degenerates into a trial for an entire community who have to prove their innocence and not their guilt. The court even quoted from a popular Hindi film in which the protagonist undertakes a nationwide journey in the US to convince the President that he is not guilty.

His cry ‘’My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist’ becomes a leitmotif for the film and in what the court says, that of an entire community. The court’s observations should be binding for the lawmakers and law enforcers in India. The court has rightly stated that the job of the law enforcing agencies specially those who deal with terrorism is difficult and the court has assured that it takes into cognisance the difficulties involved. But that does not mean that the lawmakers and the judiciary must eat their words when the case comes up for trial, having made arbitrary and flimsy arrests causing grief and harassment not to individuals and their families but perhaps  to an entire community. Hopefully the TADA having been repealed and this awareness taking root, the law enforces and the public in general should stop short of holding communities at large responsible for what is essentially individual and misguided acts of terror.
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