‘Atrocious’ Antulay is not alone!

By Sampathkumar Iyangar,

Abdul Rahman Antulay has a lot of things in common with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Both have been brilliant strategists of the Congress party. An old-timer in the ‘freedom fighter’ party, ARA reminds us of the so-called ‘father of the nation’ who was assassinated at the age of 79. About that age now, Antulay could well be facing a political if not physical assassination.

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Maybe there are crores of devotees in the country and outside to worship the ‘Mahatma’ as holier than Allah, Bhagwan or the Father & son. A whole generation of people has been brainwashed since elementary school days with lessons in distorted history. It is still believed by many, in the information age, that the ‘apostle of peace’ fought the mighty British and wrested independence to the country through nonviolence. The number of followers of the current minister of minority affairs in New Delhi too could run at least into millions.

Many Indians of course may not even know that such a ministry exists, as Antulay was keeping a low profile; just like nobody believed that there was a home minister until another Maharashtrian leader, Shivraj Patil, got the sack! But Antulay’s matter-of-fact quip on the elimination of three top cops, including ATS chief Hemant Karkare, during the recent Mumbai siege have brought him centre stage.

Is Antulay baring the face of New Delhi’s tyrants as a repentance for his past sins? The hyperpatriotic Indian media has slammed him as ‘Gone rogue’ and ‘Kasab’s attorney’. But, coming as they do from a veteran minister of law and justice in Maharashtra, who later was its chief minister too, it is difficult for powers that be to sweep the remarks under the carpet. He obviously knows how law and justice are administered in the country!

Antulay was too young to participate in original Gandhi’s ‘national’ circus, which had no difficulty to project itself as the sole guardian of all Indians. Even the ‘national’ flag dubiously resembled the party flag to spread the myth. But, he was an important lieutenant of the fake ‘Gandhi’ during the 1970s. He operated Indira Gandhi Pritisthan trust, a multi-crore racket of the ruling family and gained notoriety in a gigantic ‘cement scam’.

ARA allotted huge quantities of cement to builders in Mumbai in return for mega donations to the trust’s ‘noble cause’ garibi hatao. The dashing young politico apparently tried to lick more than his share in the loot and earned the emergency queen’s hubris. In 1982, Antulay got the dubious distinction of a CM to be convicted for extortion of money, which his foxy accomplice tried to cheat him of. But, like it happens in India, he has been permitted to keep his treasure.

The original Gandhi, at the ripe old age of 75-plus, apparently repented his role in promoting hypocrisy, indiscipline and dishonesty in the name of ‘freedom struggle’. In fact, his clique bitterly fought only the most disciplined social service outfit in the country those days, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He started advocating disbandment of Congress once the objective of ‘independence’ was attained. Perhaps Antulay too has woke to the sins of his party, and himself, after decades of rampage.

Incidentally, the British had anyway decided to quit all colonies in the post World War scenario. Gandhi saw the true colours of the cronies in the clique when they forced a partition. Just for the sake of getting more competent leadership out of the way, so that a pre-destined dynasty would inherit the colony, the coterie isolated everyone at the expense of agonizing intermigration of millions.

Gandhi fell to the bullet of an assassin just after India became independent. Interestingly enough, it was after the new dispensation at New Delhi was consolidating its grip on the territory and was feeling increasingly uncomfortable at answering questions.

The First Information Report (FIR) did not contain any statement about a doctor being called in. There has been no explanation why he was not rushed to hospital; instead he was taken to Birla Bhavan, palatial property of the chief financier of the party. He died there later. The murder was blamed on a Hindu fidayeen. The RSS was accused of inspiring the conspiracy and was declared a terrorist organisation. For years, it faced the same music as LeT is facing today.

The mysterious assassination in 1948 was a precursor to the intrigue behind a series of later ones in the erstwhile British colony. Strangely, ‘peaceful’ transfer of power is supposed to have preceded their independence! Elimination of inconvenient idols, making scapegoats of some smalltime rebels or thugs and thus shielding the real masterminds behind a larger game plans have become commonplace.

Questions still persist about the ‘plane crash’ in which Sanjay, emergency queen Indira’s dashing younger brat died. Significantly, he was the current Yuvraj’s more competent uncle. Later, shades of the same trickery could be seen when a ‘sympathy wave’ got generated that enabled the party to emerge from ashes on the back of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. Pliant top cops and apologetic judges came handy to get some hapless refugees convicted. Nobody thought of inquiring what motive a calculative rebel organization abroad – focused on one single goal, stringent about not spending a penny for anything other than that and bereft of every emotion including revenge – would conspire in something that can only harm it. Or why none of the local party bosses were anywhere near the spot.

It is a misfortune for the country that virtually every political outfit, including ‘saffron’ parties claiming RSS roots, worships the former proprietary property of Congress. For tasting power, they have acquired the same trade mark traits, forgetting that they were once implicated in his mysterious murder. The opposition too freely employs spin doctors and the drama of Parliament house attack in 2001 too had all makings of this standard story line.

Surprisingly, the ‘terrorists’ couldn’t manage to get a single MP or VIP in the attack that was ‘cracked’ the next day, compared to hundreds of casualties one would expect in any ‘normal’ terror attack. Judicial procedures that any self-respecting judge of any civilized country will detest – accepting confessions extracted from accused, branded from day one as culprits, as the sole basis of conviction – were used to further political ends. It however came unstuck in the Apex court as the victim was not even a smalltime thug like in other cases!

It is of note that in any number of ‘terror attacks’ in various cities, the victims have all along been ordinary people who do not matter in India. That was so even in anti-Sikh riots, post-Godhra pogrom or Akshardham massacre, or Parliament attack. Only the Mumbai siege saw a difference and was perhaps a ‘real’ terrorist attack.

It cannot be denied that the high profile cops, who became casualties for the first time, were dealing with alleged ‘Saffron terror’, for the first time since 1948. One of the alleged assassins engaged to hurl hand grenades in Gandhi’s meet, interestingly bore the same surname of the ATS chief who died during the 2008 Mumbai siege. What made all three of them to be present at the same spot, that too away from actual scene of attack, is of course intriguing. Perhaps, the terrorist attack itself was real. But, someone in power added a bit of intrigue to save the skin of some influential elements.

Particularly in the face of such shameless political and judicial games of the past, no sensible person – save ones whose brain has been washed beyond repair – would find fault with Antulay’s musings: “Karkare found in his investigation that non-Muslims were also involved, but unfortunately his end came. It may be a separate issue for investigation, how his end came you follow me. Whether he was just a victim of terrorism, or if he was a victim of terrorism and something else, I don’t know.” Significantly enough, Antulay had talked about a ‘mysterious’ blast in Nanded in Maharashtra in 2006. Only vested interests with some sinister plans to hide would sabotage a credible investigation.

[The author is an unattached policy analyst based at Ahmedabad, India.]