Union Minister of Minority Affairs of India, Abdul Rehman Antulay, a former CM of Maharashtra, India, created a ‘political tsunami’ with his demand that the death of Mumbai’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare at the hands of terrorists on November 26, 2008, be probed. Karkare was killed along with Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte, Senior Inspector Vijay Salaskar and two police constables on the night of November 26, as they drove towards Cama hospital in south Mumbai after receiving information that the two terrorists, who had struck at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), were hiding there. The issues that raised by Antulay were:
1) Karkare’s death might have been the outcome of a conspiracy of radical Hindus seeking revenge for his investigation in the Malegaon blast case.
2) Why did he go to Cama hospital ‘where there was nothing’; when more furious attacks were taking place at Hotel Taj and Oberoi?
His statements have cast aspersions on the entire police force. When BJP members burst into cries of “Desh ka gaddar hai (he’s the country’s traitor)”, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s M.A.A. Fatmi countered them with “Desh ka sardar hai (he’s the country’s leader)”.
It is an insinuation without basis in facts. Primarily, why would anyone in power want Karkare’s death? Antulay himself said that Karkare was investigating the Malegaon case up to the very day of his death. Karkare was constitutionally incapable of being led astray by ‘Hindu communal forces’; not in power either in Delhi or in Mumbai. Before his death, questions were raised on the authenticity of the investigations being conducted by him and now questions are being raised about the circumstances in which he was killed. Both are wrong and deeply regrettable. To Antulay’s second issue, I would say that the Taj hotel attack began at 10.03 p.m., i.e. 18 minutes after the CST attack was intimated to Karkare having dinner at his home.
Islamabad has vehemently refused to accept that the tragedy in Mumbai was the handiwork of Pakistani’s, and here is a minister who, by his remarks, has lent credence to the Pakistani government.
In times of crisis such as these, we want a leader who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. But Antulay knows no way, shows the wrong way and goes his own way. If Antulay had really felt that there was a conspiracy, he could have got it clarified with the Maharashtra government (where his own party, the Congress, is in power) or with the Central government (where too his own party is leading the coalition). Time spent to fight terrorism would be better than investigating these ‘so-called doubts’.
He resigned as the CM of Maharashtra in 1982 and as the Minority Affairs Minister in 2008. What did he get by hurting the feelings of so many patriots? We can expect a Pakistani spokesman to say that everything that happened in Mumbai was a conspiracy of ‘Hindu radicals.’ Or, will they be beaten to the punch by one of India’s own home-grown secularists? This reminds me of a quote by Charles de Gaulle:
“I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”