By Kartikeya Tanna on July 1, 2013
On Saturday night, NDTV’s Sreenivasan Jain responded to a two-part column in Niti Central on the Ishrat Jahan report of both NDTV and Tehelka which raised several questions on how the CBI has evidence which seems to indicate that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah may have known of the encounter in advance.
Sreenivasan Jain ko gussa kyon aata hai ?
My two-part column can be found here (Part-I and Part-II) and Jain’s response can be read here.
This column is a response on facts/legal inferences by Jain. I find it unnecessary to respond to Jain’s comments on me as well as the online abuse he refers to in his rebuttal.
1) Jain could not find the relevant point in the video report where he emphasises that the HC has already “established” the encounter as fake. It is important to draw readers’ attention to the fact that the NDTV video hyperlinked in the beginning of Part-I (when readers would click on ‘exclusive report’) has apparently been removed and replaced with a different and much shorter video in the same URL. The original video which was aired on the afternoon of June 27, 2013 after Jain tweeted this is no longer on the NDTV website. It is surprising why Jain’s video report has been removed. Anurag Paranjape has retrieved the video and it is now on YouTube.
2) While Jain does concede that he is willing to be corrected on this point, he adds a caveat that whether or not the High Court has established the encounter as fake is a “matter for interpretation”. This, I am afraid, is not a matter for interpretation. True, the court appointed SIT has concluded that the encounter was “fake” and its report has been placed before the High Court. However, basic common sense and a little research can show that the Court has not, and cannot, “declare” or “establish” the encounter as “fake”. These words by the Gujarat High Court in an order dated December 1, 2011 after the SIT submitted its report might be sufficient: “We do not wish to express any concrete or conclusive observations on the said aspect since the fresh/another FIR is yet to be registered and the investigation thereof is yet to take place, and any observation made by this Court on the aspects of commission of crime at a place or in a mode or the manner other than that of an encounter, may also prejudice the rights of the alleged accused at different stages, including that of trial, if any such circumstances arise.” (page 113, para 34). It is important to point out here that Jain himself refers to this HC order in his response. Even if Jain did not read the HC order although he alluded to it, logic suggests that this is not a “matter for interpretation”.
3) In so far as Jain’s point on Bhupendrasinh Chudasama being present at the November 2011 meeting is concerned, certainly, even if he was neither an MLA nor a Minister, he could have been present at the alleged meeting if he was asked to. However, do bear in mind how his presence at the meeting was described. The Tehelka report refers to those present at the meeting as “several top guns of the Modi Government”. In the NDTV debate, Jain refers to them as a “number of senior Ministers of the Gujarat Government” (see from 19:15 onwards). The Tehelka journalist then mentions them by designation. How that would appear to a viewer who does not have access to sensitive material can be described as under:
At the November 2011 meeting, allegedly on deciding legal strategy on the probe, the following were present:
» MoS (Home) Praful Patel: Makes sense since top Gujarat police officials are accused;
» MoS (Law) Pradeepsinh Jadeja: Makes sense since this meeting is on legal strategy;
» CMO official GC Murmu: Makes sense since he supervises many GoG legal matters;
» Advocate-General and Additional Advocate-General: Self-explanatory
» Bhupendrasinh Chudasama: How? Why? He has been the Law Minister only since December 2012. He was not even an MLA in November 2011.
Do remember that as per Tehelka and NDTV (and CBI), those present at this meeting were allegedly advised by the AG on a course of action were the SIT to declare the encounter as ‘fake’. Therefore, if anything, it would be the Law Minister at that time Dileep Sanghani. Is it logical that an individual, who was neither an MLA nor a Minister would be a part of a meeting to discuss legal strategy of the law officer of Gujarat Government?
4) Jain dismisses my other arguments as “sermons” on how the media houses should have interpreted the information CBI has gathered. I shall reiterate just one point. Both Jain and Tehelka used the words “sabotage the investigation” when referring to AG’s suggestion to those present at the meeting that, were SIT to declare the encounter as ‘fake’, they must all proclaim that the SIT is ‘fake’. My simple question is this: How, with even the greatest stretch of imagination, is this tantamount to “sabotaging” the investigation? It is the HC which has to decide what to do with the SIT report! Frankly, the carelessness in the use of words by Jain indicates that the aim was perhaps to create nuisance and sensation in this politically charged atmosphere.