07 Aug 2015  |   02:13am IST

If only the police were always this efficient

The law may take its own course, but that course is often directed by political will. However much the establishment may deny political interference, the quick arrests in the JICA bribery case are evidence of pressure from the top to act. Right now, the government would like all to believe that it had nothing to do with the Goa Police swooping down on a former Chief Minister  late in the night and picking him up to arrest him without a political nod. But, this is the government of the same party that in the run-up to the 2012 Assembly elections had promised to book the corrupt. This sudden bashfulness in taking credit for a job well done somehow does not behove the party that promised zero tolerance to corruption. But then, this government has not been so very proactive in other cases of corruption or illegalities.

Contrast the progress in the JICA bribery case with the progress in the illegal mining case. In the JICA case that is just over two weeks old, we have had the arrest of the former JICA project Director and that of a former vice president of Louis Berger followed by the late-night arrest of former PWD minister Churchill Alemao, but in the illegal mining case, that Goa first heard of four years ago, not a single politician has been arrested, despite a Special Investigation Team probing the latter case. The efficiency displayed by the Crime Branch that is investigating the JICA bribery case is sorely missing from the SIT investigating the illegal mining case. Or so it would appear.

Corruption had been an issue that the Bharatiya Janata Party had flogged tirelessly in its drive to power in 2012. It had promised to put the corrupt in jail and had singled out illegal mining promising arrests. Yet, one finds that instead of  mining, the first arrest of a politician by this government has been in a case of bribes allegedly received from a US-based firm for a water project consultancy. What happened to the people who raped the land in connivance with the politicians of this State? When are they going to be picked up? The government had promised to act on those involved in illegal mining even before the Shah Commission investigating illegal mining in Goa had presented its report and indicted a former chief minister. That case has not moved forward, and mining operations that were halted three years ago are set to commence a couple of months from now. Yet, Goa is still not any wiser as to the people involved in the mining scam and just how much that scam cost the exchequer. Is it really Rs 35,000 crore that the Shah Commission had projected?

Imagine, if Louis Berger had not admitted in a New Jersey court that it had paid off bureaucrats and ministers to gain a consultancy contract, we in Goa would not even have been aware of the giving and receiving of bribes in the water consultancy project. When news of this case was reported in the US media, the government jumped at it and Crime Branch that was given the case has acted with an alacrity that is otherwise not seen in the police department or, for that matter, in the bureaucracy. Not only did it call in for questioning JICA representatives in Goa but also Louis Berger company officials from outside the State and politicians, including two former chief ministers, one of who is now in the lockup and the other has applied for anticipatory bail.

As Alemao and Kamat, once cabinet colleagues, fight their case with loud pleas of innocence, the other politicians, many of them their colleagues, kept away from the controversy by declining to defend the two politicians when asked by the media for their comments. Most, especially those from the ruling coalition, preferred to say that the police are doing a good job. By the results so far, one would tend to agree with them. However, the expectation remains that the police would show the same efficiency every time and in all crimes. If only they would, it would not sow the doubt in the mind that there is just perhaps a little amount of political interference in this case.


Idhar Udhar