It seems that as far as the death of Bihar youth Rahul Raj by the Mumbai police is concerned, I was wrong and the political leaders of Bihar were right. And thereby hangs a sinister tale. When the normally restrained Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar described the killing as 'brutal murder' I castigated his remark for being irresponsible in needlessly demoralizing the police. I had good reason to do that. There was video TV coverage showing the youth brandishing his gun and shouting angrily. The killing occurred in a bus with over a dozen passengers present. So what was the police supposed to do if they could not shoot with sufficient accuracy to disable the youth or to capture him alive?
Ah, but did they really fail to capture him alive? The autopsy report now reveals that the fatal bullets were fired from a distance of two feet or so. My reasoning was simple. How could the police have murdered the youth in cold blood as alleged when there were over a dozen witnesses present? Would not the passengers have revealed the truth to contradict the police? It is reasonable to infer that Nitish Kumar, Laloo Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan had information denied to the public.
Now the penny drops and the chilling possibility arises. Were the passengers so terrified that none dared to go public with the authentic version? They could not report to authorities or go to the media with their version for fear of death. So what might have happened? The information could have leaked out to reach the politicians of Bihar. That was why their united rage. But why could not the politicians have stayed their hands until the forensic report was released? They are politicians. They know how the system works. Could they rely on the authenticity of the forensic report? So they went to the press in a manner that witnesses were scared to do.
Five MPs of the JD (U) resigned from Parliament in protest over the incident. These politicians are attempting to secure justice and protect their electoral fortunes by heeding the truth known to the street but not apparently to the Union cabinet. These politicians hold power. But they have ignored the institutional framework of constitutional politics. They have resorted to parallel politics in the pursuit of what they perceive as a just cause. So now we not only have a parallel economy but also parallel politics. In this the aims of governance are realized by chief ministers and cabinet ministers through media and politicking. If even ministers have lost faith in the institutions through which they govern, what remains of the system?