With the R Pradhan report finally being criticised for a lopsided appraisal of the reactions of security forces to the scathing Mumbai terrorist attack, one can finally breathe a sigh of relief. This issue has raised immense controversy and received uninterrupted media attention in the past few days. When the first ‘ratiocinations’ of the report were publicised by the media, there were many questions that remained unanswered. How can only one man in the entire Mumbai police department face the blame for the handling of the 26/11 carnage? Why is the Mumbai Police Chief the only casualty of the Pradhan Committee report? Why have other security agencies, such as the Coast Guard & NSG, not been held accountable? Why was Hasan Gafoor not allowed to submit his comments and make a rebuttal? Unfortunately, these pertinent questions have not been considered worthy of mention by the mainstream print and television media thus far. The sadistic pleasure that is ingrained in the unbalanced projection of this issue has been disheartening and the damage that such hasty reporting may have caused to the otherwise spotless reputation of Hasan Gafoor cannot be ignored.
When one man is blamed and accused while members of his own force (both subordinates and superiors) are praised, one cannot help but feel the strong undercurrents of a bias emanating from the report. These undercurrents are so apparent that the two member committee comes across as naïve and tactless in lacing the report with prejudice. From the moment he took up the post of police commissioner, Mr. Gafoor has faced turbulent times, both in terms of adverse events befalling the city, and personal attacks from the opposition parties (some even claim they found him sleeping in his car during the attacks). These accusations, however, have never been backed by concrete proof. It is as though a target was picked out long before the blame game had begun. Whether this bias is political, communal, or both, is hard to distinguish, but its existence can hardly be questioned.
The untimely promotion of Mr. Gafoor as Director General of Maharashtra state police Housing and Welfare Corporation is undoubtedly a safe political move by the ruling parties, particularly in the backdrop of the upcoming state elections. The move disarms the opposition on one hand and ‘promotes’ Mr. Gafoor on the other, thus upholding political diplomacy. Had the state government and CM waited for this clearly unbalanced report to be discussed in the Assembly and had the courage to back the chief of police until proven guilty, it would have been laudable. But we all know that Indian politics is a dirty game where power is the first and only priority.
The irony of the entire situation is that the first agency that must be held accountable for any terrorist attack is the intelligence department. This is because the collection and subsequent provision of crucial information to aid preparation for, and more importantly prevention of, any terrorist threat is the prerogative of this department. However, the commissioner of the State Intelligence Department at the time of the terror attacks (D. Shivananandan) is now the commissioner of the Mumbai Police Department. Furthermore, although this “intelligence failure” has been highlighted in the Pradhan report, it has not hampered the appointment of Shivananandan in any way.
In conclusion, we have witnessed some serious lapses on behalf of the Pradhan Committee, the media and the state government. The Pradhan Committee itself must be investigated for its unfair conclusions, ironically by yet another committee; and a new endeavour to ‘seek the truth’ must be launched. The media should attempt to salvage its reputation as a sensationalist instrument and make a sincere effort to enhance governmental accountability and transparency. As for the Indian politician, till political agendas remain steeped in bias and hatred (against an individual, caste, race, region or religion), energy and resources will continue to be diverted from the key concerns of welfare, justice and security for the citizens of this country.
Saiyid Lamaan Hamid