Anand Patwardhan’s ‘Reason’ Asks Disturbing Questions About Hemant Karkare’s Death

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Hemant Karkare

By the point ‘Terror and Tales of Terror’, the penultimate bankruptcy in filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s newest documentary, Reason why, starts, audience are already primed to appear out for the leitmotif that indicators but any other homicide—a revving bike and gunshots piercing the silence of the night time.

In Reason why, which is split into 8 chapters, those sounds ominously precede the killings of rationalists, political activists and intellectuals comparable to Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Gauri Lankesh.  

On this explicit bankruptcy, the individual on the receiving finish of the gunshots is Hemant Karkare, the previous leader of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) who was once killed whilst combating Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists right through the 26/11 assaults in Mumbai.

Lately, nearly 11 years after his demise, Karkare made headlines once more after Pragya Singh Thakur, the BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal who may be an apprehension suspect lately out on bail, accused him of torturing her in custody and shockingly claimed that it was once her curse that ended in the killing of the police officer—an Ashoka Chakra winner for bravery and a countrywide hero since his demise.   

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The debate that erupted then, and which continues to fester, has put the highlight again on Thakur; her bête noire Karkare; the contentious factor of Hindu terror and extremism in India; and the thriller and conspiracy theories that also encompass the demise of Karkare.

Made and launched some months earlier than Thakur’s candidature was once introduced, Patwardhan’s Reason why, with its bankruptcy at the Thakur-Karkare affiliation, is a well timed reminder of the nuts and bolts of the talk. The four-hour Hindi subtitled model of the documentary, titled Vivek, is lately to be had on YouTube—the Karkare chapters are titled Vivek #14 and Vivek #15.

The movie supplies an unsettling account of the way violent Hindu extremism and rightwing politics are looking to “systematically dismantle secular democracy” in India. In doing so, additionally it is smartly positioned to supply further insights into the violent Hindutva radicalism that has marked Narendra Modi’s years in energy.

Hindustan Occasions by means of Getty Photographs

A protest in Mumbai in April in opposition to Pragya Thakur’s remarks on Hemant Karkare.

Existence, demise and controversies

The bankruptcy selections up Karkare’s tale as he heads investigations into September 2008’s Malegaon blast, which left six other folks lifeless and injured round 100. Pursuing the possession path of an LML Freedom bike used right through the blast, the ATS arrested Thakur, amongst others.

Due to this fact, the ATS’s investigations defined the position performed via shadowy fringe Hindu extremist teams comparable to Abhinav Bharat and Sanatan Sanstha in allegedly executing terror acts throughout India, most commonly concentrated on Muslims. The position performed via the RSS has additionally come into query.  

At the same time as Reason why recounts the incriminating proof that emerged from laptops seized from the accused and charts the involvement of Hindutva terror cells as detailed in media studies, the Mumbai terror assaults of 26 November 2008 takes position at the same time as. Karkare died within the wee hours of 27 November, allegedly to bullets fired via Pakistani terrorists Ajmal Kasab and Ismail Khan close to Rang Bhavan.

“Hindu terror cells were operative since 2003. It’s one unmarried courageous officer, ATS Leader Hemant Karkare, and his workforce that had the center to start to disclose the fear cells however he was once minimize down in mid-enquiry and the enquiry died with him,” Patwardhan mentioned over electronic mail a couple of weeks after Reason why was once screened to a packed auditorium in Kolkata via a cultural-political organisation, Other folks’s Movie Collective, in March.

The bankruptcy ‘Terror and Tales of Terror’ is balanced between the closing days of Karkare’s skilled lifestyles and the raging debates that adopted his demise that have been reignited now via Thakur.

Tellingly, Reason why contains pictures of IBN7 TV channel’s information broadcast on investigations into the Malegaon blast and the alleged legal involvement of radical Hindutva parts like Swami Dayanand and Thakur getting rudely interrupted via ‘breaking information’ of the 26/11 assaults.

If the result of Karkare’s probe into the Malegaon blast—which crowned an inventory of 17 blasts throughout India between 2003 and 2008 that killed ratings of other folks and had been purportedly completed via terror cells involving names comparable to Aseemanand, Thakur and Col. Shrikant Purohit—has been debatable, so has Karkare been in demise. The bankruptcy Terror and Tales of Terror is balanced between the closing days of Karkare’s skilled lifestyles and the raging debates that adopted his demise that have been reignited now via Thakur.

Questions and conspiracy theories

For the reason that night time of Karkare’s killing, unanswered questions and conspiracy theories have cropped up in media reports—beneath whose directions did Karkare head against the website online of his homicide?; how did the bullet-proof jacket he was once dressed in pass ‘lacking’ from the medical institution the place he was once taken?; was once a sub-standard bullet-proof jacket equipped to him?; why wasn’t an good enough backup of defense force equipped to a senior officer like Karkare as he went at the operation?

Doubts have additionally been raised over a portion of the testimony equipped via the lone survivor of the assault, constable Arun Jadhav, deemed as “exaggerated” and “a lie” via particular pass judgement on ML Tahaliyani. The denouncement of the Karkare-helmed ATS investigation into the Malegaon blast via the BJP most sensible brass, together with LK Advani, then Gujarat Leader Minister Modi, and extra just lately via former Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, have additionally featured prominently in media studies.

Whilst Patwardhan ignores the talk raised over Karkare’s poor-quality bullet-proof jacket which went lacking from the medical institution in Reason why, he extensively hints at different contentious angles.

“The inaccurate bullet-proof jacket that went lacking is suspicious however might be disregarded as ‘standard’ corruption, so I selected to not reside on it. A lot more damning is what I did come with—the bullets that killed Karkare had been neither fired from Kasab’s gun nor Ismail’s,” he mentioned.

“This bankruptcy of Vivek/Reason why raised essential questions on an incident the place most of the people have totally swallowed the legitimate tale. There are greater than 3 voluminous books that ask unanswerable questions gleaned purely from the legitimate transcripts of the case. If what’s on report itself ends up in such doubts, believe what may just emerge if a correct re-investigation came about,” Patwardhan added.

The narrative in ‘Terror and Tales of Terror’ is supported via the deposition of 2 essential people. The bankruptcy is interspersed via candid interviews with Rohini Salian, former particular public prosecutor dealing with the Malegaon case who alleged she was asked to “go soft” at the accused via a Nationwide Investigation Company (NIA) legitimate 12 months after the BJP-led NDA govt got here to energy in 2014.  

Certainly, Reason why performs again newspaper headlines screaming ‘Turnaround’ and ‘Surprising volte-face’ via the NIA since 2014. Considerably, the case in opposition to Hindu terror has observed witnesses turn hostile, statements of key witnesses within the Malegaon blast case pass lacking, a the most important confession via Aseemanand getting lost, most of the arrested having fees dropped in opposition to them, and bail for the high accused, together with Aseemanand, Col. Purohit and Pragya Thakur.

In tandem, there was a concerted try to discredit Karkare’s investigations.

“Systematically I may just make out that issues weren’t shifting in the suitable route. I felt one thing is severely improper someplace and why will have to I develop into part of that recreation?” Salian explains in Reason why as to why she went to the clicking in 2015 together with her tale.

Andrew H. Walker by means of Getty Photographs

A document picture of Anand Patwardhan.

Patwardhan additionally contains lengthy classes of interviews with SM Mushrif, Maharashtra’s former Inspector Basic of Police and a adorned officer who authored the guide, Who Killed Karkare? The Actual Face of Terrorism in India.  

Reason why makes use of to be had tv pictures of Karkare’s closing documented moments in motion at the night time of 26 November 2008—he will also be observed in the street dressed in a helmet whilst any other helmeted police officer issues at a selected route. Patwardhan’s voiceover right here identifies the opposite officer giving instructions to Karkare as KP Raghuvanshi, who was once leader of Maharashtra ATS earlier than Karkare succeeded him.

Raghuvanshi was once reappointed ATS head instantly after Karkare’s demise.

“Below Raghuvanshi, the ATS stuck the improper other folks in Malegaon. They stuck 9 Muslims,” is going the voiceover as information pictures of Karkare’s closing moments performs within the background. “And the night time that Karkare died, the similar night time Raghuvanshi was once reappointed as head of ATS,” it continues.

On crosschecking, we discovered Raghuvanshi was once given further rate of the ATS proper after Karkare’s demise and was once formally appointed via the federal government on June 11, 2009. He was once removed as ATS chief in not up to a yr after being pulled up via the centre.

Wikimedia Commons

Patwardhan ends the bankruptcy alluding to but any other homicide that he connects to Karkare’s killing. This time, it’s the flip of Communist Birthday celebration of India chief Govind Pansare.

Cycle of violence

In ‘Terror and Tales of Terror’, Patwardhan alludes to illegal activity, conspiracy and cover-up. Observed inside the greater canvas of the painstakingly documented and researched four-hour movie and Patwardhan’s larger premise of Hindu extremist motion and ambition in India, the bankruptcy beneficial properties a persuasive air of secrecy of conviction. He introduces the context on the very starting of Reason why, mentioning the examples of the 3 spiritual organizations—the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS—getting based in early 20th century within the wake of the established order of the secular Congress celebration in 1885.

“All 3 sided with the British right through the Give up India Motion and all 3 agreed that Hindus and Muslims can’t reside in combination in a single secular nation,’ says the narrator of Reason why.  

“In unbiased India, the primary initiative to destabilize secularism started with the assassination of Gandhiji in 1948. The killers referred to as their act Asur Vadh (demon slaying),” the voiceover continues.

Such motion, Patwardhan reckons, is figure in growth. And the unparalleled example in Indian secular democracy of an apprehension accused, Pragya Thakur, vying to go into Parliament whilst beneath trial, suits the development.

Patwardhan ends this bankruptcy alluding to but any other homicide that he connects to Karkare’s killing. This time, it’s the flip of Communist Birthday celebration of India chief Govind Pansare. About 5 years after the e-newsletter of Mushrif’s guide on Karkare, Reason why shows Pansare talking in a public assembly concerning the conspiracy theories articulated within the guide and stating that he would publicise the contents of the guide thru 150 conferences in Maharashtra.

Some months later, at the morning of February 16, 2015, Pansare and his spouse had been shot at via motorcycle-borne assailants outdoor their house in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur whilst they had been coming back from a stroll. He succumbed to the bullet accidents on February 20.

“Pansare was once a mass chief who appealed each to the Left and to Dalit and different revolutionary teams, which will have to have put him at the rightists’ radar, however the real ultimate straw may just smartly were that he had begun to carry conferences about Karkare’s demise,” mentioned Patwardhan.

It’s time for the leitmotif to go back in Reason why—the deathly thunder of a motorcycle and gunshots piercing the air.

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