Retired Gujarat cadre IPS officer, D.G. Vanzara, who was recently released from prison after eight years, had carried out a series of encounters in early- and mid-2000s, including the encounter of Ishrat Jahan.
Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Guardian, Vanzara said that the only appreciation he got from the government for curbing terror in Gujarat was that he was sent to jail. Excerpts:
Q: During the British era, people would be sent to Andaman and Nicobar Islands as punishment. You, too, were banished from Gujarat for so many years. How would you like to describe your homecoming?
A: God is great and Satyamev Jayate. When I came back, there was an overwhelming support from people who know me and even those who don’t know me personally. They are all happy. The public opinion about me and my officers in Gujarat and around the country is that whatever was done (encounters) was done within the parameters of law. The revelation by David Coleman Headley has further proved that we did nothing wrong.
Q: Now that you have taken retirement from the police force, how will you remember your service years?
A: I did my best right from the time I joined till the time I retired when I was in jail. I remained a disciplined, sincere, devoted and result-oriented officer. I have retired from service with full satisfaction.
Q: You were an IPS officer and as you claim, throughout you career you carried out the orders of the state government. After the Ishrat Jahan encounter, there has been virtually no terror attacks in Gujarat. Do you think the government appreciated your efforts/action in curbing terrorism?
A: After curbing terrorism in Gujarat, I and my officers were pushed into all sorts of political controversies and we had to go to jail. And the only appreciation that we got for our service was that we were sent to jail. But since we did the right thing, within the parameters of law, we felt appreciation and satisfaction from within. Appreciation did not come from outside, but we got appreciation from our own conscience.
Q: Your appreciation for the RSS and vice versa is no secret. You were received warmly by the RSS functionaries after you came back. Have you been associated with the RSS in the past?
A: RSS is a cultural organisation, BJP is a political organisation. Both are different. Appreciating RSS does not mean that I am appreciating the BJP. I was associated with the RSS before I joined the service and during the service, I was not in contact with them, but now I have started reviving those contacts after retirement.
Q: Do you feel that your political friends in Gujarat supported you during the eight years you were in prison?
A: Politicians are friends of no one. I was supported by God and the goodwill of people.
Q: Reading your tweets, one gets a sense that you are claiming that you were politically victimised? If yes, why and by whom?
A: It was clearly a case of political victimisation. There is no doubt that I and my officers were politically victimised. Our encounters were genuine and despite that, stories and evidences were concocted against us as part of a political conspiracy.
Q: Who was behind this political conspiracy?
A: The entire political spectrum was responsible for it…
Q: Including the BJP and the Congress?
A: When I say the entire political spectrum, I mean the entire political spectrum. I am not pinpointing anyone, nor am I including anyone or excluding anyone.
Q: Do you think that being a part of the Ishrat Jahan encounter case was a mistake?
A: Why would it be a mistake? We were performing our duty, there was a call of duty, and we rose to the occasion. There is no question of mistake.
Q: What is your stand on “encounter killings”, especially in the context of such incidents happening in the North-East, Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat?
A: The security forces have to respond when they are fired at, and firing in self-defence is permitted in law. And during this self-defence, terrorists may die sometimes.
Q: Are you going to contest next year’s Gujarat Assembly elections?
A: All options are open.