THE MORE things — and people — change, the more the government refuses to change or learn. After the terrorist attack in Mumbai, a new chief minister and deputy are in place in Maharashtra, a new home minister has taken over in Delhi. Of course, some things — and people — don’t change. Like the National Security Advisor who hangs on to his job with barefaced cheek, the home secretary who is left without even a fig leaf. The IB director will soon go but only because he is retiring. The list is long: the Maharashtra DGP A. N. Roy, the Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor, his deputy Rakesh Maria and others down the line.
These are anxious times for ordinary citizens and they need to be assured that the government cares. Instead, we are saddled with a set- up incapable of drawing lessons. Maharashtra’s new chief minister, the fun- loving Ashok Chavan’s only familiarity with the sensitive subject of law and order is that he is the progeny of a decent man who was once the Union home minister. It is now nearly three weeks since the murderers from Pakistan unleashed mayhem in Mumbai, but there seems to be no urgency to the probe. Instead, myriad agencies in Mumbai are involved in a turf war over who will handle the investigations.
The job is naturally the Mumbai ATS’s, but K. P. S. Raghuvanshi, who heads it now, had earlier been shunted out to the railways and is back only because the brave Hemant Karkare, who we saw on TV borrowing a fellow officer’s bulletproof jacket to take on the killers, did not come out alive. It’s not the kind of CR that inspires confidence within the force, not to speak of ordinary citizens. As of date, 12 FIRs have been registered but nobody knows who will investigate them. Jt. Commissioner Rakesh Maria has such a tight media interface schedule, many wonder when he finds time for his job. So the job now lies with the state crime branch whose methods are more suited to dealing with Mumbai’s underworld and criminals of a lesser Devil.
Sadly, in our investigative agencies, as in so many spheres of life, it is connections that matter. The crime branch reports to police commissioner Gafoor, while the elite ATS reports to DGP Roy. Peers attribute the tug of war to the commissioner’s alleged benefactors at the most powerful address in Delhi while the DGP reports to the chief minister who is at Delhi’s mercy.
Commissioner Gafoor was outside the Trident and Maria in the control room when the horror unfolded but it is clear they were able to do nothing. You couldn’t miss the irony on Friday when TV channels reported that Fahim Ansari, an accused in the CRPF terror attack in Uttar Pradesh, has been handed over to the ATS. This when the ATS has been kept out of the investigations.
In one of his many interviews, Maria said he will file the charge- sheet within 90 days.
Why 90? Because that’s the deadline as per Indian laws. It would have been laughable if the matter wasn’t so serious. 26/ 11 is a case that calls for professional handling of the highest order; unfortunately, it stands in danger of falling victim to political one- upmanship and bureaucratic turf wars.