It is no more a letter released purportedly by a beleaguered father claiming he had asked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his daughter’s security cover since she was living away from her family. The father has now moved the Supreme Court in an attempt to stop the State-appointed Commission of Inquiry and the one proposed by the Union Government from probing further into the case. The apex court has instructed the Union and Gujarat Governments to keep the family’s identity confidential but has refused to gag the media in response to the miserable man’s petition, choosing instead to request the reporters present in the courtroom to exercise restraint. Is a commission more capable than the media to turn society voyeuristic? It is not a commission that told us the woman’s first name and family name.
The case is intriguing for sure, and neither the BJP Government’s defence nor the offensive by its rivals appears entirely convincing. While it is wrong to employ the State’s machinery to track a citizen on the request of a private person, it is equally unlikely that a suave politician like Narendra Modi — who has shown no interest in friends, family and social life since his teenage years — would put his seat of power at stake for a woman (or a man for that matter). Anybody who has studied the life of the prime accused would rule out his personal interest in the target of his government’s alleged act of snooping. And if at all he was given to such frailty of the human character at some point in his life, many a politician has known of smarter ways to deal with his jardin secret. There are stories of ‘leaders’ maintaining faraway or nondescript bungalows or farmhouses, for example, where none but their servants and they venture! It is ridiculous to suggest that the chief executive of a province would unleash his government apparatus on the object of his fancy. As matters of the case have unfolded, it is also improbable that the woman was part of some terrorist module acting against the state, for which she needed to be monitored. In all likelihood, Modi must have forwarded the request of his acquaintance to his deputies who, in turn, passed it on to some high-ranking policemen they trusted. As is the wont of ministers and government servants, they turned out to be more loyal than the king, chasing the wretched soul to all her whereabouts.
If privacy and security of women in a State headed so far by the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate were the question, there would be more cases of the type. There isn’t another. Since the news broke, it has served little purpose other than, one, helping the INC score a brownie point and, two, titillating some oglers. The desperation of the UPA Government showed when it hysterically searched for a judge to head its proposed commission, which two constituents of the coalition — the NCP and NC — disapproved of. As if the drama were not enough, some judges reportedly asked for lavish perks to oblige the government! An immediate end to this theatre of the absurd would meet two ends: The nation can concentrate on the issue of development all over again, and the woman whose privacy some are ostensibly concerned about will return home to real privacy.