Mumbai has been a victim of terrorist attacks a number of times, especially in the aftermath of the ghastly post-Babri demolition violence. The most horrific terrorist attack that shook Mumbai, however, was undoubtedly the terrorist siege on 26 November 2008 in which 126 people died and 327 people got injured.
The attack was deadly and apart from other victims, Hindus and Muslims both, it took away the life of one particular police officer Hemant Karkare — the Maharashtra ATS chief, who was investigating the acts of terror in which the involvement of Hindutva groups was also coming to the surface steadily. The police version of the incident had lots of holes. The then minority affairs minister AR Antulay and many others started having serious doubts about the sequence of events presented by the police. Later, two more glaring things happened: the bulletproof jacket of Karkare went missing, and his postmortem report was not made public. An intense hue and cry was orchestrated to hang the lone terrorist survivor, Ajmal Kasab. He had the key to unravelling some of these vital queries and there were elements who wanted him hanged without a trial.
It is in this backdrop that SM Mushrif does a commendable job of collating all the available evidence and coming out with a revelatory book, Who Killed Karkare: The Real Face of Terrorism in India. In summary, Mushrif challenges the theory put forward by police and argues that apart from eight terrorists who landed from Pakistan, there were two more who were from the Hindutva groups, who had, in collaboration with the Intelligence Bureau (IB), taken advantage of the knowledge that Pakistani terrorists were coming to Mumbai. But instead of alerting the Navy and other authorities concerned, who could have averted the attack, the IB played a different game. Hindutva groups swung into action and planned to eliminate Karkare. When he was doing his job meticulously, the Hindutva political group Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna wrote in the editorial that they’d spit on the face of Karkare. The present prime ministerial candidate from BJP, Narendra Modi, called Karkare anti-national.
Mushrif pieces together all the evidences and demolishes the theory presented by the police, and proves that “the CST-Cama Hospital-Rangbhavan lane operation was planned, scripted, directed, choreographed and executed jointly by Brahminists involved in a nationwide terror plot, as disclosed in the Malegaon blast investigation”.
This book challenges the State version upfront. While several editions of the book came out, along with its multiple translations, the IB accused of masterminding the plot kept quiet about the whole thing. No challenging of the theory of the book, no banning of the book! The plan might have been to kill the book’s theory by ignoring it. A phobia was created not to talk about the theory put forward in the book. The IB seemed to have made this phobia percolate to the judiciary, with the result that the courts ignored many crucial arguments raised in the book. Still, though the case ended with the conviction of Ajmal Kasab, a careful scrutiny of the 1,588-page judgment revealed that many findings of the judgment vindicated Mushrif’s theory. Radhakant Yadav, a 77-year-old veteran socialist leader of Bihar and three-time member of the Bihar Assembly, picked up the threads of the arguments of Mushrif’s book and the positive findings of the judgment; and then went on to file a criminal writ petition in the Bombay High Court. Important points of the petition are reproduced verbatim in the book under review.
The intervention of the Court is a major hope in the case, but the State and the authorities concerned are not responding in an adequate manner. The Ram Pradhan Committee report, which went into the role of the police and other authorities concerned in the terror attacks, is being kept under wraps. The DVD enclosed in the book also has valuable footage drawn from TV channels and other sources. One major point shown by the footage is about how Karkare, the prime target of the ‘native conspirators’, was trapped.
Surely, Mushrif’s first book and this brilliant sequel, are crying out for answers. Populist notions about terrorism have influenced our investigations too far. If truth is to be unravelled, an honest examination of the arguments of this book is highly imperative. It is a powerful indictment of the IB and the Hindutva groups, and should compell the authorities to give an honest answer.