Because “something” must be done

A recent news report: (Emphasis mine)

A here on Saturday dropped charges against suspected (LeT) bomb maker Abdul Karim Tunda in 1998 case under the Explosive Substance Act – the fourth case he was facing.

Tunda, one of the 20 terrorists whom India had asked Pakistan to hand over after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, was chargesheeted by Delhi Police in four cases and with Saturday court’s order, he has been discharged in all.

On April 23 last year, another Delhi court dropped charges against Tunda in connection with two separate blast cases – the October 28, 1997 blast in Karol Bagh and October 1, 1997 explosion in Sadar Bazar.

Another court on March 10 last year also discharged the Tunda, accused under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, the Explosive Substances Act, the Arms Act and for criminal conspiracy.

A sessions judge on Saturday discharged Tunda, accused of waging war against India under the Indian Penal Code and under the various provisions of Explosive Substance Act, observing that there lack of evidence to prove the allegations against him.

The story states, inter alia, that the police charged Tunda with masterminding plans to avenge the Babri Masjid demolition, and also charged him in 33 other bomb blasts across India.

How on earth do we do these things, with no thought to consequences? How do we file charges without proper investigation? How do we not understand that when the investigative machinery makes such damn fools of themselves, it hurts the very anti-terrorism battle we are engaged in? When cases we file against “terror suspects” breaks down for want of even prima facie evidence, how do we expect the world to take our accusations seriously?

This is the “politician’s syllogism” in action:

  1. We must do something

  2. This is something

  3. Therefore, we must do this.

A terrorist attack happens. The government of the day is under pressure to show that it is acting. It transfers that pressure onto the police. And the police jumps the gun, grabs hold of someone without any sort of investigative rigor, feeds the frenzy by accusing him of every crime they haven’t been able to solve yet — with, as seen above, disastrous consequences for the real battle.

I hold no brief for Tunda; I have no idea whether he did what he is accused of doing (sadly, we live in a world fueled by adrenalin, which mandates that such things have to be spelt out in as many words). This post is not intended as a gloat — merely, as a pointer to the risks we run when we allow political compulsions to dictate police investigations.