Monday, March 30, 2009


This is a strange nation. With stranger leaders. For almost five years, till 26/11 to be precise, the government argued against a stringent law to deal with terrorists who kill innocent people on the plea that ordinary laws were sufficient to deal with terrorism. No one was prepared to listen that all nations affected by terror had put in place stringent anti-terror mechanisms. Only a few individuals let out that the real reason for the stance was that such a law might be misused by the police. It was safer to allow innocent people to keep getting killed than risk losing the votes of a minority community.

Maharashtra and Delhi have their own anti terror law, the MCOCA. All the "Hindu" terrorists arrested for the Malegaon blast are being tried under this anti-terror law. But, MCOCA has not been used by the Congress government of Delhi in the case of the Indian Mujahideen terrorists involved in the September 13 serial blasts in Delhi ostensibly because such laws had become contentious for being misused against minorities.

The strangest development of all is that all those who have been crying hoarse about the human rights of terrorists and demanding that they be tried like ordinary criminals under the IPC and the CrPC etc alone, have not opened their mouth against perhaps the gravest misuse of law since the dark days of the Emergency. Mayawati has slapped the draconian Nationa Security Act (NSA) against Varun Gandhi for making that by now famous hate speech. Under the NSA, no judicial review can be sought for three months.

This means that for making a political speech, however despicable, a candidate has been silenced behind the bars for perhaps the whole duration of the election campaign by a political rival who is engaged in a ferocious electoral fight to win power in Delhi. The silence of the Congress and the Election Commission to this brazen misuse of a law that is meant to be used only when there is a threat to the nation is ominous.

This time it might be Varun Gandhi who is the victim. But, theoretically, it is now possible for anyone to lock up political opponents in the middle of their election campaigns. The slogan of Mayawati's BSP has changed now but if some of her supporters raise the BSP's original slogan at a rally that she addresses in a state ruled by her opponents, she can be put in jail under the NSA by them. "Tilak, tarazu aur talwar, inko maaro jootey chaar" (Hit Brahmins, Kshatrias and Vaishyas with shoes). Is not this original battle cry of the BSP provocative enough for the NSA to be invoked, going by the precedent that Mayawati has set?

In one hasty step taken out of political panic, Mayawati has turned the NSA into a "National Insecurity Act". Worried by the possible loss of her voters to the BJP, she has pulled the NSA out of the bag to poach Mulayam Yadav's Muslim vote bank. By locking up Varun Gandhi, she is trying to tell Muslims that they can trust her to act tough against anyone who speaks against them. This move may well backfire and prove to be just the issue that the BJP needs to reclaim the voters of UP that had deserted the party.

Notwithstanding what the political fallout is, what should concern all politicians and citizens is that this dangerous misuse of the NSA will open a Pandora's box that will make a complete mockery of the process of law. It is everyone's duty to ensure that politicians do not turn the NSA into a tool of petty political vendetta.
Readers may also read:
1. The Varun fiasco: Congress scores another self goal
2. The Varun sting: who is not playing the communal card?
3. Rahul, Varun and the politcs of hate
4. Say sorry to India Varun