Rajat Sharma

How Modi’s strong will brought about a landmark verdict against terrorists

rajat-sirIn a landmark judgement on Friday, a special court in Gujarat pronounced death sentence to 38 convicts in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case, while giving life imprisonment to 11 other convicts. This is the first time in India’s modern judicial history, when such a large number of convicts have been sentenced to death by a court in a single case. The earlier precedent was the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case in 1998, when a TADA court pronounced death sentence to all 26 convicts.

Fourteen years ago, on July 26, 2008, SIMI and Indian Mujahideen terrorists carried out more than 20 bomb blasts, killing 56 innocent persons and injuring more than 200 people.

Special Judge A R Patel, in his judgement running into more than 7,000 pages, wrote, “if such people are allowed to be part of society, it will amount to setting man-eater leopards free amongst the innocents”. The special judge said, “since they did not show any mercy to innocents, there is no reason for this court to show mercy to them”.

The 49 death convicts are presently lodged in jails in six cities, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Gaya, Taloja, Bhopal and Bengaluru. In his judgement, the special judge quoted from Holy Quran to differentiate between jihad and terrorism, and appealed to religious organizations to boycott these terrorist outfits. The motive of the convicts, the judge said, was to avenge the killings during post-Godhra riots. Towards this purpose, they selected Hindu-populated areas of Ahmedabad and set off the explosives. The judge said, the terrorists underwent special training in different parts of India as part of meticulous planning.

The special judge said, this was a rarest of rare case because the terrorists also placed explosives near hospitals, because they knew that injured people would be brought to hospital, and their relatives, officials and politicians would visit the hospitals.

Special Judge A R Patel also wrote in his judgement that the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi, the then Home Minister Amit Shah and local BJP MLA Pratapsinh Jadeja were also among the targets. It was Narendra Modi’s fate that he could not be targeted by the terrorists. In other words, the target of terrorists were not only common people, but the state leadership too. The judge said, the aim of terrorists was to create disturbance and anarchy, and create Islamic Raj. “If such anti-national elements indulge in such terror attacks, there was no need to look after them in jails for the rest of their life, and capital punishment was the only way out”, the judge said.

Special Public Prosecutor Sudhir Brahmabhatt described the verdict as a milestone, which would act as a deterrence in preventing future terror attacks. Gujarat Police director general Ashish Bhatia, who was Joint Police Commissioner (Crime), Ahmedabad, during the blasts, was the person who supervised the entire investigation into the serial blasts. In his judgement, the Special Judge praised the work done by Ashish Bhatia and his team in nailing the terrorists and the conspirators.

The manner in which the investigation was done meticulously laid bare the entire setup of Indian Mujahideen throughout India. The investigation team worked under the overall supervision of the then CM Narendra Modi and the then Home Minister Amit Shah, and their role was praised by the Special Public Prosecutor.

Another IPS official who put in his efforts in cracking this case was Abhay Chudasama who was then DCP, Crime in Ahmedabad, and is now, IG, Gandhinagar Range. He meticulously put all the pieces in place in the jigsaw puzzle. Chudasama told India TV that the Special Court verdict will act as a precedent for future.

This historic verdict is surely the result of painstaking efforts made by Gujarat’s investigation and prosecution departments. But the credit for achieving this goes to the political leadership that prevailed in Gujarat at that time. The Ahmedabad serial blast was a direct challenge to Narendra Modi. He was the chief minister at that time, and Amit Shah was his trusted Home Minister. When twenty bombs exploded one by one across the city, Modi reached Ahmedabad, took latest updates from officials and wanted to go the scenes of crime. He also wanted to meet the injured people in hospital, but was advised by his officials not to go, since most of the areas were still not safe and secure. Two hours after the first blast, there was an explosion near Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.

Modi ignored his officials’ advice and went to the scenes of crime and also visited the hospital to meet the injured victims. By leading from the front, he sent a strong message to the people of Gujarat to convey that he was with the victims in their hour of distress. Modi also directed police officials to go after the perpetrators of the crime and nail them.

Thirteen years ago, on April 4, 2009, when Narendra Modi was my guest in ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ show, he mentioned how Gujarat Police made the investigation of Ahmedabad serial blasts an example for others to emulate, and how his government’s iron willed policy against terror was also followed by other states.

There could be differences of opinion with Narendra Modi, but none can question his patriotism. Nobody can doubt his zeal in tackling terrorism. The Special Court verdict has proved how Modi fought a decisive battle against terrorism in his home state. With his strong will, he showed the terrorists and their masterminds their right place.

The ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ video clip that I showed in my ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ show on Friday night indicates how Modi had made up his mind to uproot terrorism, when he was the chief minister. In the ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ show, I had pointedly asked Modi, who he would have done, had he been the Prime Minister when the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks took place.

I still remember Modi’s reply. He said, “we should reply to Pakistan in its own language. We should stop writing ‘love letters’ to Pakistan and avoid complaining about terrorism from Pakistan before the United States”. Modi replied to Pakistan in its own language when he became the Prime Minister. He gave our armed forces a free hand, and our brave jawans and officers hit Pakistan inside its territory twice.

I think all of us should show respect to the strong will of our Prime Minister. On domestic issues, political leaders may criticize one another, but on issues relating to terrorism and its sponsor Pakistan, all political parties and the entire nation must stand united as one. We must fight the scourge of terrorism unitedly.

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