Thursday, November 17, 2011





Braving hostile conditions with minimal support from other agencies, with conspirators both within and outside the department, a determined Police force vigorously took the case head on and arrived at a logical conclusion.

By Zubair Ahmed

A senior police official, during the trial of the CBSE case once made a remark that is etched in memory till now - "We don't know why we are putting so much effort. There is no support from any quarters. No other department of the Administration is taking any interest in identifying or punishing the culprits."
At every stage of the investigation, they had to face challenges. Initially, a few police officers tried to manipulate the evidence. At later stage, the jail authorities were found helping the accused.
On different pretexts, big shots of the society showered sympathy with the accused and used every opportunity to influence the process.
The lawyer fraternity boycotted courts, when Deep Chaim Kabir was appointed by the Administration to assist the prosecution.
But Justice Prevailed. And when it happened, there was no parallel in recent history, when such a historical judgement has been pronounced.
In the history of Islands, a landmark judgement in one of the most notorious and sensational case was delivered by the Sessions Court on 16 Nov 2011. All four accused - Abdul Salam, Krishnamaraju, Vijayan and Rasheed - in the CBSE Question Paper Leak Case has been sentenced to Life Imprisonment by the Court.
In March this year, when the question paper racket was busted, there were sufficient reasons to be cynical about the outcome. With invincible bigwigs involved, justice was the least expected, forget about the quantum of punishment. It was claimed that it would be a cakewalk for the accused.  Even judicial custody for the accused was presumed to be a victory for them.
Persons directly involved had been arrested and placed under suspension; the ANI Admn had not come out openly and clarified anything about the beneficiaries of the leaked question papers. Many parents had felt that justice would not be done in this case. They felt that a crime of such magnitude required thorough investigation by an independent agency and bigwigs involved in the racket should be brought into the ambit of investigation.
Throwing all skepticism and distrust into thin air, the police department jumped into the fray with conviction and determination, followed the leads vigorously, filed the charge sheet in record time, moved the case into fast track mode and finally when the judgement was pronounced, there was no room for any kind of doubt. Police had played their part to utmost satisfaction in the most hostile conditions.  The team of Supt of Police (SA) SP Tyagi, and ASP Chinmoy Biswal  alongwith young and energetic officers worked hard without rest braving all odds to arrive at a logical conclusion.
“In the last eight months, there was not a single day, when we could detach ourselves from this case. Almost 39 bail applications were filed and they wanted me to be busy running behind it, and in the process delay preparation of chargesheet, “ said ASP Chinmoy Biswal.
Moreover, it is also learnt that out of 64 witnesses, about 13 prime witnesses were influenced. One of the witnesses from Nicobar had turned hostile and there was an habeas corpus petition filed against the SP and ASP about his disappearance. In the petition, it was mentioned that the witness was last seen at the office of the ASP. However, police could trace him. In case of any eventuality, the whole case would have gone awry.
No doubt, there were sufficient reason to harbour skepticism. The influence that these bigwigs wield is immense and was felt at all levels. Police had to fight on two fronts - conspirators both outside and inside. The documents, which were under preparation and not yet submitted in the court were in their possession. How did they get the documents, which the police team thought were safe in their hands. Even before the Court serving them the chargesheet, they had a copy of it.
The crowd that reached the court premise to show solidarity with the accused, on the day of their first appearance had sent stunned the city. The way the crowd behaved and the skirmish with police showed their money and muscle power. With a major section of the society sympathising with the accused, barring a few, they were capable of manipulating any given situation. Highly predictable was the outcome of the case, as they had seen in yesteryears.
No efforts were spared to fight the Administration's decision of appointing Deep Chaim Kabir as a prosecutor in this case, which had sent shivers in that circle. Quoting various reasons, the bar council too put weight behind the allegation that his appointment was illegal. And it manifested in every action of the bar council. The faith reposed by the Police on Deep Kabir did bear fruit. According to sources, the accused had sensed that there is no escape, but they had not imagined such a sentence. They played all games. Most of the witnesses turned hostile. The police too was worried at some point. "I believe in God, because I have faith in Deep Chaim Kabeer," a senior Police Officer had told LOA.
The senior police official on anonymity had opened up his heart and shared the pressure they had to go through during the whole process. The support from other agencies of the administration was minimal. When the police department first suspended and later dismissed the accused police officer, Forest department, did not take any action against Vijayan, a ranger, who was the kingpin. The District Jail, where the accused were lodged had become a playground for them. From jailors to warders, the support they got is already on the record. The Police Officer showed the call details of as many as five to six employees from Deputy Jailor to Warders, whose phones were being used by the accused to influence witnesses. And, they were successful too in that endeavour. Moreover, the Police Officer had told LOA that even a senior police officer was supporting the accused and playing spoilsport, a black sheep indeed!
The accused got all support wherever possible - in jail as well as in hospital. They were seen wheeling dealing in hospital too. The police department was not even aware that the under trials had been shifted to hospital. When clarifications were sought from the Jail authorities, they made it clear that they are not bound to intimate police about shifting of the under-trials to hospitals. In a specific case, jail authorities informed police after three days.
The historical and significant judgement will serve as deterrent not just for crimes like question paper leak, but, it will also sent a clear message that justice is not something which can be easily negotiated with money or muscle power. The quantum of punishment has been a shock to many. Nowhere in near history, have four persons been sentenced to life imprisonment for such a crime.
In fact, one of the convicts of the Question Paper Leak Case has huge stake in various businesses in the Islands. It is also believed that he has many benami properties and businesses, which are run by his henchmen. It has been going on for long time. These were the same people who acted on their behalf when the trial was going on. With such elements roaming free with massive wealth under their control, it would be difficult to believe that Islands are free from the cancerous malaise. When Palswamy, an under trial in Explosive Case, died while in judicial custody, one of the henchmen had planned to organise spontaneous morchas especially targeting the SP, South Andaman. He had used the opportunity to create terror and panic. However, it fizzled out with the Lieutenant Governor going all out showering jobs, money and engineering seat to the dead man's family, in which the role of a politician is also being discussed in hushed tones. The misplaced sympathy had also in a way demoralised police force.
It is also a fact that many local police officers have more businesses than policing. They run proxy businesses, contracts and even illicit trades immune from all legal barriers. It runs smoothly like well-oiled machinery. When officers from mainland are appointed at vantage posts, it creates problem for them to run their show. They too have amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income.
The police which acted well in the Question Paper Case is following the Explosive Case too in all earnest.  The accused in the Explosive Haul Case were the backbone of some of those involved in the CBSE case. In the Explosive case too, only those directly involved has been indicted. The role of officials of District Administration also needs to be investigated, as cases of manipulated explosive licenses had also came to the fore recently.
No criminals deserve sympathy; but everybody deserves justice, without any concoction. Fair justice as was done in the CBSE case.

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