Will the Chief Minister have a look at what is happening?

­­­­­ Author: S Gurumurthy
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: December 3, 2004

Twenty four hours later it turns out that Usha is a cancer patient for 15 years and has undergone radiation therapy 130 times, yes 130 times! That Jayendra Saraswathi was giving financial help to her. Her name was mentioned by the police in the court as a possible accomplice of the Acharya! The police obviously knew that that the `woman’ angle would also malign him.

This is headlined in newspapers whose readership is in millions. Damage done is irreversible which cannot be undone by the truth that came out a bit too late.

`The Acharya has confessed he is involved,’ the police tell the court. They know that the confession claimed by the police, of course denied by the Acharya, is no evidence in law. Actually the police are bound in law not to disclose it. See now the reach of the law on confessions. A man kills someone and goes to the police and files an FIR against himself.

The Bombay High Court sets him free on bail, saying that that he has indicted himself is no ground to keep him in jail. This is also no ground to convict him. This is the law. See how the police get around the law against the disclosure here.

It first plants news in some yellow journals that the Acharya has confessed. Then that is picked up by a TV channel and telecast. By now millions and millions have read and seen the news, with disbelief. Then comes the prosecutor’s statement in the court that the Acharya has confessed. Now the entire media carries the police statement as the final nail in the coffin!

As if all that remains is that the Acharya has to be just hanged. The police know that unless the Acharya makes it before the court, that confession is not valid in law. The ordinary people do not know law and so they do not know this too. They think that the so-called `confession’ is the last word.

Have the police ever told the public that this is no `confession’ in law? Has the media ever alerted the public that law will not look at this `confession’? For contrast look at how the very media handles those accused of terror, pontificating on human rights and what not.

The way the polity, media and the police is handling Jayendra Saraswathi and more than him the revered Kanchi Mutt is vicious. It is no more an investigation. It has turned into persecution.

The assassination complaint against him has descended into character assassination. As recently as a decade ago, one of the greatest saints of modern India, Chandrasekarendra Saraswati, also known as the `Mahaswami’ or the `Paramacharya’ was heading the Kanchi mutt which has a 2500-year history.

It is this institution which is being mauled today, virtually undefended. The attackers know that the Mutt, which lacks the skill and the infrastructure to take on the might of the attackers, cannot defend itself.

Hence more attack by the attackers is met with more silence by the Mutt. The triad of polity, media and the police have effectively convicted Jayendra Saraswathi for culpable homicide on no legal evidence -yes, no legal evidence – with the two accused persons having publicly disowned their confessions against the Acharya.

With their retraction, the prosecution is virtually dead, unless the police torture someone else to secure a confession against the Acharya. If there is a verdict on the evidence the police have the Acharya will be honourably acquitted. But how many know that fact?

Never in the history of India has an institution of high reverence been so recklessly and disrespectfully dealt with. Compare this with what happened when the Islamic institution of Deoband at Nadwa revered by millions of Muslims was raided, by the Central and state police, in the 1990s for harbouring ISI agents, an act endangering national security.

The raid was called off midway, yes midway, and Narasmha Rao, the then Prime Minister, had to send two of his senior ministers, one a Hindu and another a Muslim, to apologise to Ali Mian, the head of the Nadwa institution. So the law takes `its course’ at Kanchi and `another course’ at Nadwa.

With so much malice already in the public domain if tomorrow the judiciary sets Jayendra Saraswathi free for want of evidence valid in law then the very public, fed on media stories of his culpability, will think that the judiciary has set him free for reasons other than law.

That is how such vicious campaigns will hit even the judiciary. It does no good to any one, be it the government, media or the judiciary. Even if, at the end, I am entirely proved wrong, I cannot shirk my duty to alert the public and sensittise the authorities about the destruction of too many values involved in this investigation which is gradually turning into battle between the silent and silenced Kanchi Mutt on the one hand and the police and its associate, the media megaphones on the other.

It is no more an investigation into a crime. Having transcended to unreleated areas, it is now a larger design to defame and discredit the Mutt itself. Will the Chief Minister have a look at what is happening in the case and set it on course?

Writer’s email: comment@gurumurthy.net

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