Hatred of Narendra Modi alone will explain the audacity of the secularists to question the veracity of David Headley’s testimony, given under the watchful eyes of the judicial authorities both in the United States and India. It should be clearly understood that by telling it as it was, Headley did no one but himself a favour. He was committed under oath in a US court to depose truthfully about his activities as an operative of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Any attempt to mislead was bound to recoil. Given 35 years in prison for his role in the 26/11 attack, in which four Americans were killed, Headley’s non-cooperation could even attract death sentence for the 55-year-old LeT agent. In any case, set to spend 35 years in prison, Headley would have little reason to risk fresh trouble at the hands of his American captors should he play ducks and drakes with the truth.
However, the usual suspects who abuse Modi and the Sangh Parivar, for reason and without, find it hard to believe that Ishrat Jahan was an LeT operative. She was killed in an encounter in 2004 by the Gujarat police. Her co-conspirators too were killed in the same encounter. The police action followed credible inputs from the Central intelligence agencies that she was an LeT suicide bomber and could target Modi.
But all that is in the past. What is relevant is that the secularist-deniers, some seen on nightly television after Headley’s testimony, are mouthing the same arguments as the Pakistanis do to insist that Headley could not be trusted, his motives were suspect, he was a double-agent, etc. Very well, then. But so long as he testified under oath, with the American prison and court officials constantly watching over him, and so long as what he said conformed to our own investigations in the 26/11 attack and in the Ishrat Jahan case, what national purpose do they serve by undermining his statement?
How far is it correct to pick holes in the Headley deposition merely because it is seen to be endorsing the stand of the Gujarat government? Clearly, the felt need to abuse Modi trumps national interest. Now we can well understand what might have informed the psyche of a Mir Jafar or a Jai Chand when they betrayed the national cause.
The argument that regardless of Ishrat’s status as a member of the LeT, her critics were concerned about the fake encounter in which she was killed is easily disposed of. Successive governments, particularly since the early 1980s, had followed the unstated but pragmatic mantra of “take no prisoners”. Let us not talk about the Batla House encounter in Jamia Millia. Or hundreds more such encounters. Indira Gandhi’s assassins Beant Singh and Satwant Singh had laid down their arms and surrendered to the armed guards in 1 Safdarjung Road. But Beant was killed in cold blood. And killed even though he was certain to hang. That was also, if you must know, a fake encounter.
The point is simple. The right and wrong of encounters, fake or otherwise, have nothing to do with the testimony of Headley. Here was an LeT agent who conspired in the 26/11 attack, which left 160 innocents dead. And scarred many more lives. If he has now felt obliged to testify to save his own skin, the effort should be to pin down Pakistan, the perennial source of terrorism against this country. Instead, the secularist crowd endorses the Pakistani argument and, thus, aids its parrot-like noise that it had nothing to do with 26/11, the Pathankot atrocity and several such atrocities. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know whose side these secularists are on.
WHEN SILENCE IS RIGHT OPTION
It seemed to be much ado about nothing. The so-called land scam, which a Punjab-centric paper editorially equated with Robert Vadra’s land racket, has turned out to be a damp squib. In order to implicate then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the paper claimed that land worth Rs 145 crore was given for Rs 1.5 crore. The price of that land half a decade later has barely crept up. Nor is the claim that Anar, the daughter of present Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, is a shareholder is true. She is not. The paper also rehashed allegations heard during the Lok Sabha campaign about Modi parcelling out land at throwaway prices to industrialists.
The central thrust of the paper was that while the Congress was unfairly targeted on account of Robert Vadra, no such effort is made to make Modi accountable even though the “much-touted Gujarat model is not free from the vice of family connection”. Since the Congress partisans cannot counter the charges against Vadra, they seek to do the next best thing, that is, try and establish equivalence between Modi and the Gandhis in the matter of shady deals.
Indeed, a day later the same paper blamed the NDA government for the huge problem of non-performing assets of the banking sector. Here again the truth is that Modi merely inherited the problem of nearly Rs 8 lakh crore stressed assets. Banks were already saddled with huge bad loans when he became Prime Minister. Since then, not a single rupee was given by banks at the say-so of a minister or his son, as was the case under the UPA. The government is now engaged in cleaning up the bank books. If you follow what RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan is saying, you will remain in no doubt how reckless the banks were in advancing tens of thousands of crores without doing due diligence. A comfort letter from a government babu was enough to fetch a PPP concessionaire hundreds of crores from banks which he then promptly diverted to his private account. The advent of the Modi government has put a stop to the loot of taxpayers’ funds in the name of the much-vaunted PPP model of infrastructure development. But then those who do not want to see cannot be made to see.
‘NAUTANKI’ FOR THE GANDHIS
The defence of the Gandhis in the National Herald case was timed well. A day later, the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the plea for the dismissal of the case filed by Subramanian Swamy. The writer was an old culprit, having earlier filed an affidavit in a Malaysian court, giving clean chit to the Italian thug, the late Ottavio Quattrocchi. This time he excelled himself, calling the case against the Gandhis a nautanki. Indeed, if anyone could be accused of doing a nautanki it was this old writer. In fact, Swamy, to his credit, had prevented the huge theft of subsidised land acquired in the name of National Herald.
Prime pieces of land were surreptitiously turned into a real estate company controlled by the Gandhis without following the laid down procedures. Only after Swamy exposed the conspiracy did they convene a meeting of the shareholders. And only after Swamy’s expose did they return the money taken from a Kolkata industrialist.
Indeed, until he exposed them, the Gandhis gave no indication of reviving the paper. In fact, the stated purpose of the 11-storey building now coming up on a one-acre plot at a prime location in Mumbai is listed as “commercial”. If you call these facts nautanki, one really has to wonder about your sanity. Period.
As for a Mumbai moneybag funding various media outlets, none of them had helped itself to subsidised lands. National Herald acquired land in prime locations in various cities at dirt-cheap prices without bothering to bring out the paper.
ALL NOISE, NO ACTION
Internet is an open platform for all shades of opinion. Here is what someone said about Kejriwal’s one year as Delhi Chief Minister: “He can be congratulated for adding one more position in the Kama Sutra: Of getting on top and still doing nothing.” Amen.