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Letter to the President of India
' We Believe That You Made A Grave Error In Rejecting The Mercy Petition'
Academics, writers, filmmakers write to the President protesting the execution of Afzal Guru
COMMENTS PRINT
Public Statement
We feel that in the land of Buddha and Gandhi, death penalty has no place.
et al, Devaki Jain
Opinion
In their competitive pre-poll mode, the government and the BJP seem to have overlooked the mitigating factors about Afzal Guru to establish their strong counter-terrorism credentials
B. Raman

To,
The Hon’ble President of India

Respected Sir,

We write to you in deep anguish, despair but in outrage as well. Afzal Guru was hanged on Saturday (9th February 2013) in secrecy. We have been told— after the hanging— that you rejected the mercy petition filed by Guru’s wife Tabassum, on 3rd February. We believe that you made a grave error in rejecting the mercy petition. If you had perused the trial records and the lengthy documentation put together over the years by lawyers and civil rights activists, or even the Supreme Court judgement which sentenced Afzal to death, you would have known, that his guilt was never established beyond reasonable doubt. The fact that the Court appointed as amicus curiae (friend of the court) a lawyer in whom Afzal had expressed no faith; the fact that he went legally unrepresented from the time of his arrest till his so-called confession, the fact that the court asked him to either accept the lawyer appointed by the Court or cross examine the witness himself should surely have concerned you while considering his mercy petition.

His personal history of being a surrendered militant, of harassment and torture at the hands of STF, as well as his statement in open court that he had indeed helped Mohammad, one of the attackers on the Parliament, find a house and obtain a car, the same car used in the attack, but at the orders of his STF handlers, should have spurred a full-scale investigation into the allegations. The citizens of this country do not know if one was ordered at all.

It is also a fact that the much-hyped investigation of the Parliament attack case and its prosecution resulted in two full acquittals and conviction of another for concealing knowledge of the crime. It was almost as if there was a need to at least ensure one death sentence so that the faith of the public / society in the efficacy of the prosecution and the judiciary and the Legislature which represented the ‘State” would not be shaken. Surely this was not a case where even the government of the day was convinced of the guilt of Afzal; but treated it like a case that was far too important for all accused to be acquitted. We must remind you sir that the Supreme Court threw out the confessions of both Afzal and Shaukat which obviously indicated that the investigation had been far from fair.

As in life, Afzal Guru was denied his legal rights in his death. Sir, every convict whose mercy petition has been rejected by the President, is entitled yet to a last resort. The convict has the constitutional right to file a judicial review or a delay petition, in the High Court and the Supreme Court, to seek commutation of the death sentence. There exists veritable case law to support a condemned convict’s right to appeal on grounds that pendency of death penalty for years causes suffering and torturous anxiety. We only cite the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, which in 1988 held that “Undue long delay in execution of the sentence of death will entitle the condemned person to approach this Court under Article 32”.

Under the law, Afzal Guru may have lived still despite your rejection of the mercy petition, had he, his family and lawyers been informed of the rejection of the mercy petition. But perhaps fearing precisely this, the state whose head you are, Sir, chose to execute him in secrecy. The killing was not a fait accompli— a natural culmination of the course of law, as it is being made out to be by the government and the media. In fact, Afzal Guru was cynically, callously and calculatedly denied access to judicial remedy that was due to him. His family was not informed, not only because our state has become unrecognizably cruel—which it has, but also because it did not want Afzal Guru to exercise his legal rights and possibly avert the execution. Informing the wife that her mercy petition had been rejected through speed post is a joke. What the state has done is not simply kill a convict. It has committed a fraud on the people by invalidating an entire body of jurisprudence and a category of rights inhering in our Constitution.

And finally, the Indian state must explain why it displayed such urgency in executing Afzal before those others whose mercy petitions your office has earlier rejected.

Sd/

  1. Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
  2. Ahmed Sohaib, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
  3. Sanghamitra Misra, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
  4. Adil Mehdi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
  5. Ghazi Shahnawaz, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
  6. Ambarien Alqadar, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
  7. Farah Farooqi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
  8. Tanweer Fazal, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
  9. Yug Mohit Chaudhry, Advocate, Mumbai
  10. Vrinda Grover, Advocate, Delhi
  11. Kamini Jaiswal, Advocate, Delhi
  12. Trideep Pais, Advocate, Delhi
  13. Mayur Suresh, Advocate, Delhi
  14. Jawahar Raja, Advocate, Delhi
  15. Madhumita Dutta, Vettiver Collective, Chennai.
  16. Arvind Narrain, Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore
  17. Lawrence Liang, Alternative Law Forum
  18. Siddharth Narrain, Alternative law forum
  19. Rakesh Sharma, Filmmaker
  20. Ajay Bhardwaj, Filmmaker, Delhi
  21. Jesse Knutson, Academic, Delhi
  22. Dr. Nandini Chandra, University of Delhi
  23. Kaveri Gill, Delhi
  24. Gautam Mody, Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative
  25. Prof. Ali Javed, University of Delhi
  26. Satnam Kaur, Saheli
  27. Prof. Alok Rai, Academic, Delhi
  28. Dr. M. Vijayabaskar, Faculty, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.
  29. Darryl D’Monte, Mumbai
  30. Shivam Vij, Journalist, Delhi
  31. Amit Thorat, Delhi
  32. Ankur Dutta, Academic, Delhi
  33. Ritu Dewan, Delhi
  34. Venugopal Maddipati
  35. Ruhi Saith
  36. Kaushik Bhaumik, Senior Vice President, The Film House, Osian's
  37. Dr. N. Sukumar, Dept of Political Science, Delhi University
  38. Dr. Anand Teltumbde, IIT Kharagpur
  39. CN Subramaniam
  40. Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh, Lawyer and Legal Researcher, New Delhi
  41. Khaliq Parkar, JNU
  42. Wilfred D’costa, Indian Social Action Forum—INSAF
  43. Mary E John, Academic, Delhi
  44. Aamena Ahmad
  45. Askok Choudhary, NFFPFW
  46. Hany Baby, Univ. of Delhi
  47. Jaya Menon, Academic, Aligarh Muslim University
  48. Jenny Rowena, Academic, Delhi University
  49. Mayanka Dave Mukherji, LSR College, Delhi University
  50. Nadim Asrar, Journalist, Delhi
  51. Rangnath Singh, Journalist, Delhi
  52. Dr. Shadab Bano, Academic, Academic, Aligarh Muslim University
  53. Dr. Sk Ehteshamuddin Ahmed, Academic, AMU
  54. Dr. Kaushikee, Academic, JMI
  55. Ritu Sinha, Academic, Delhi
  56. Supriya Chaudhuri
  57. Prof. Tripta Wahi, University of Delhi (Retd.)
  58. Vijay Singh, Forum for Democratic Struggle, Delhi University.
  59. Lesley A Esteves, journalist, Delhi
  60. Panini Anand, journalist, Delhi
  61. Saba Naqvi, jourmalist, Delhi
  62. Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi
  63. Jawed Naqvi, journalist, Delhi
  64. Paramita Ghosh, Journalist, Delhi
  65. Ram Puniyani, All India Secular forum
  66. John Dayal, Delhi
  67. Shweta, SRUTI (Society for Rural Urban & Tribal Initiative)
  68. Subhash Ghatade, writer and activist, Delhi.
  69. Madhuresh, National Alliance for Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
  70. Sukumar Muralidharan, journalist, Delhi
  71. Dhruva Narayan, Managing Editor, Daanish Books
  72. Ajitha GS, publishing professional, Bangalore
  73. G. Arunima Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  74. K. Saradamoni, Economist, Thiruvananthapuram
  75. Prof. Mohan Rao, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  76. Sabeena Gadihoke, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  77. Prof. Shohini Ghosh, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  78. Sohail Akbar, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  79. Prof. MS Bhatt, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  80. Dr. Neshat Quaiser, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  81. Sabina Kidwai, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  82. Shamya Dasgupta, journalist/writer, Bangalore
  83. Shikha Jhingan, filmmaker, Delhi
  84. Prafulla Samantara, Co-convenor, Lok shakti Abhiyan
  85. Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, Editor Milli Gazette
  86. Nandini Sundar, Professor, Department of Sociology, DU
  87. Ashley Tellis, DU
  88. Brinda Bose, Associate Prof., Department of English, DU
  89. Neeraj Malik, Indraprastha College
  90. Javed Malick, Formerly Khalsa College
  91. Rahul Govind, Delhi University
  92. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Raks Media Collective, Delhi
  93. Prof. Ranjani Mazumdar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  94. Mukul Kesavan, writer and historian
  95. Arun Khote
  96. Arjumand Ara, Academic, Delhi
  97. Rakhi Sehgal, Trade Union activist, Delhi
  98. Sreenivas VP
  99. Subasri Krishnan, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
  100. Jairus Banaji, Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
  101. Dr. Anirudh Deshpande, Department of History, University of Delhi
  102. Prof. Amit Bhaduri, economist, Delhi.
  103. Prof. Anand Chakravarti, Academic, Delhi
  104. Asit Das, activist, Delhi
  105. Ravi Sundaram, CSDS
  106. Trisha Gupta, writer and editor
  107. Peggy Mohan, author, Delhi
  108. Satya Sivaraman, activist and filmmaker
  109. ViBGYOR Film Collective, Thrissur
  110. Saheli, Delhi
  111. Anivar Aravind, activist, Bangalore
  112. Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA
  113. Sanjib Baruah, Professor of Political Studies, Bard College, New York; Honorary Professor, Center for Policy Research, New Delhi.
  114. Chitra Joshi, Department of History, I.P. College, University of Delhi
  115. N. A. Jacob, Department of English, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
  116. Madhavi Zutshi, Department of English, Khalsa College, University of Delhi
  117. Rochelle Pinto, Academic, Delhi University
  118. Jonathan Gil Harris, Professor of English, George Washington University, Washington DC
  119. Madhavi Menon, Professor, Department of Literature, American University, Washington DC
  120. Rohini Hensman, Writer and Activist
  121. Tapan Bose, SAFHR, Delhi
  122. Pradeep Narayanan, Head, Research and Consultancies at Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices
  123. Ravikant, Sarai, Delhi
  124. Shivsundar, Journalist, Bangalore
  125. Dr. Malem Ningthouja, Campaign for Peace & Democracy Manipur
  126. Antara Dev Sen, Little Magazine, Delhi
  127. Mariam Shaheen, Journalist, Delhi
  128. Gauri Lankesh, Bangalore
  129. Ragini Saira, Academic, Amherst
  130. Seema Guha- Journalist, New Delhi
  131. Rajesh Sinha- Journalist- New Delhi
  132. Puneet Nicholas Yadav- Journalist, New Delhi
  133. Yadvendra Michael Yadav- Lawyer, Bhopal
  134. Sohail Hashmi, Delhi
  135. Sabiha hashmi, Art teacher, Bangalore
  136. Asad Zaidi, Publisher and writer, Delhi
  137. Meera Ahmed, Academic, Delhi
  138. Naveen Chander, New Socialist Initiative, Delhi
  139. Dr Rina Ramdev, Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University
  140. Hemangini Gupta, PhD candidate, Emory University.
  141. Nandini Dutta, Academic, Delhi University
  142. Nalini Nayak, Academic, Delhi University
  143. Dr. Nikita Sud, Academic, University of Oxford
  144. Akhil Katyal, Academic, St Stephens college
  145. Sumi Krishna, Academic, Bangalore
  146. Soumya Dutta, Academic, Delhi University
  147. Dr. Saroj Giri, Academic, Delhi University
  148. Uma V Chandru, WSS Karnataka
  149. Ranjana Padhi, PUDR
  150. Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai
  151. Rahul Rao, SOAS
  152. Dr. PK Vijayan, Academic, Delhi University
  153. Dr. Karen Gabriel, Academic, Delhi University
  154. Biswajit Mohanty, Academic, Delhi University
  155. Nandita Narain, Delhi University
  156. Dunu Roy, Hazard Centre, Delhi
  157. Manohar Elavarthi, Praja Rajakiya Vedike, Bangalore
  158. Sameer Saran, UNHCR, Kabul
  159. Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  160. Prof. Achin Vanaik, Delhi University
  161. Uzair Alim, New Zealand
  162. Misha K. Alim, Chennai
  163. Kamayani Bala Mahabal, Lawyer, Activist
  164. Anita Ghai, Fellow, Teen Murti and Delhi University
  165. Kiran Saheen, Activist
  166. Rukmani Datta, Activist, Bombay
  167. Kaveri Rajaraman Indira, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  168. Dolly Daftary, USA
  169. Badal Malick, New York
  170. Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
  171. Sheba George, Activist
  172. Rukmini Sen, Senior Journalist 
  173. Pankaj Jha, Delhi University
  174. Saumya Bhattacharaya, Delhi University
  175. G N Saibaba, Delhi University
  176. Roopa Dhawan, Delhi University
  177. Tara Basumatary, Delhi University
  178. Vijaya Venkataraman, Delhi University
  179. Naveen Gaur, Delhi University
  180. Abha Dev Habib, Delhi University
  181. Prof. Janaki Nair, Academic, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  182. Padmaja Shaw, Osmania University 
  183. Richa Minocha, Jan Abhiyan Sanstha, Himachal Pradesh
  184. Mahtab Alam, writer and activist, Delhi
  185. Mansi Sharma, activist, Delhi.
  186. V Suresh, General Secretary PUCL
  187. D Nagasaila, PUCL, 
  188. Kavita Srivastava, PUCL
  189. Arati Chowksi, PUCL
  190. Sachin N, Delhi University
  191. Debjani Sengupta, Delhi University
  192. DW Karuna, Chennai
  193. Kumar Sundaram, activist, Delhi
  194. Harjeet Singh Gill, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  195. Raji Govind, Coimbatore
  196. Anirudddhan Vasudevan, Chennai
  197. Mahmood Farooqui, Writer, Delhi
  198. A.Suneetha, Senior Fellow, Anveshi, Hyderabad. 
  199. Saumya Uma, Consultant, Law, gender and Human Rights, Mumbai
  200. Anusha Rizvi, Filmmaker, Delhi
  201. Rajashri Dasgupta, Journalist, Kolkata
  202. Prof. Ujjwal Kumar Singh, Academic, Delhi University
COMMENTS PRINT
Public Statement
We feel that in the land of Buddha and Gandhi, death penalty has no place.
et al, Devaki Jain
Opinion
In their competitive pre-poll mode, the government and the BJP seem to have overlooked the mitigating factors about Afzal Guru to establish their strong counter-terrorism credentials
B. Raman
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