On the Hanging of Afzal Guru
The tearing hurry with which Afzal Guru was hanged, accompanied by the flouting of all established norms by not giving his family their legal right to meet him before taking him to the gallows, clearly indicates that there were political considerations behind taking this step. More shameful is the explanation of the Home department that the wife and family of Afzal Guru were intimated of the hanging by a mail sent by Speed Post and Registered Post. Decency and humanity demanded that the Union Government give prior intimation to the family and an opportunity to meet him. Such a surreptitious action of the government also deprives the family of Afzal Guru to right to seek legal remedy.
PUCL also condemns the repressive stand of the Delhi police in not allowing a group of people who were protesting against the hanging and detaining them in police stations. We are equally concerned by reports that right-wing goons were permitted by the police to use violence against the protestors. PUCL asserts the right of citizens to dissent and express their opposition to capital punishment in a peaceful manner.
PUCL reiterates its demand for the abolition of the death penalty. PUCL is of the view that India must not retain in its statute book something so abhorrent to human rights as the death penalty. More especially, when more than one hundred and fifty countries have banned or put a moratorium on it. PUCL feels that as the land of Buddha and Gandhi, death penalty has no place.
PUCL feels that starting with Kasab, now with Afzal Guru, the country is going to witness a spate of executions. We give a call to the nation to break this spiral of executions.
Prabhakar Sinha (President, national PUCL ),
V Suresh (national General Secretary) ,
Prem Krishan Sharma ( President, PUCL, Rajasthan) and
Kavita Srivastava ( Gen. sec PUCL Rajasthan0
Praveen Swamy in the Hindu: The vanity of 13/12 ‘truth-telling’:
Arundhati Roy makes claims that far transcend this debate...
Is there actual evidence that 13/12 is a macabre plot, in which the criminal justice system and judiciary are implicated? Ms Roy builds her case around what can, at best, be described as parts of the evidence, cherry-picked for polemical effect...
The larger assertions Ms Roy makes, based on her selective reading of evidence, are even less grounded in the real world.
Editorial in Deccan Herald:
Even where a person has killed another, or many others, in any circumstance or for any reason, there is no justification for taking his life. The provision for capital punishment is based on a primitive idea of retribution and should have no place in the statutes of a civilised society.
Afzal Guru did not kill, and there is no absolute certainty about his role in the events that he is said to have been involved in. Then why did he have to be executed? The question will haunt the nation’s conscience in the days and years to come.
Editorial in The Hindu:
Afzal Guru was walked to the gallows on Saturday morning at the end of the macabre rite governments enact from time to time to propitiate that most angry of gods, a vengeful public. Through this grim, secret ceremony, however, India has been gravely diminished….
In case after case, the course of criminal justice has been shaped by public anger and special-interest lobbying. Indians must remember the foundational principle of our Republic, the guardian of all our rights and freedoms, isn’t popular sentiment: it is justice, which in turn is based on the consistent application of principles.
For one overriding reason, Guru’s hanging ought to concern even those unmoved by his particular case, or the growing ethics-based global consensus against the death penalty. There is no principle underpinning the death penalty in India today except vengeance. And vengeance is no principle at all.
Arundhati Roy in the Hindu: A perfect day for democracy:
Wasn’t it? Yesterday I mean. Spring announced itself in Delhi. The sun was out, and the Law took its Course. Just before breakfast, Afzal Guru, prime accused in the 2001 Parliament Attack was secretly hanged, and his body was interred in Tihar Jail. Was he buried next to Maqbool Butt? (The other Kashmiri who was hanged in Tihar in 1984. Kashmiris will mark that anniversary tomorrow.) Afzal’s wife and son were not informed. “The Authorities intimated the family through Speed Post and Registered Post,” the Home Secretary told the press, “the Director General of J&K Police has been told to check whether they got it or not.” No big deal, they’re only the family of a Kashmiri terrorist.
In a moment of rare unity the Nation, or at least its major political parties, the Congress, the BJP and the CPM came together as one (barring a few squabbles about ‘delay’ and ‘timing’) to celebrate the triumph of the Rule of Law. The Conscience of the Nation, which broadcasts live from TV studios these days, unleashed its collective intellect on us—the usual cocktail of papal passion and a delicate grip on facts. Even though the man was dead and gone, like cowards that hunt in packs, they seemed to need each other to keep their courage up. Perhaps because deep inside themselves they know that they all colluded to do something terribly wrong.
What are the facts?...
...Like most surrendered militants Afzal was easy meat in Kashmir—a victim of torture, blackmail, extortion. Anybody who was really interested in solving the mystery of the Parliament Attack would have followed the dense trail of evidence that leads into the shadowy grid in Kashmir that connects militants to surrendered militants, renegades to Special Police Officers, the Special Operations Group to the Special Task Force, and upwards and onwards. And upwards and onwards.
But now that Afzal Guru has been hanged, I hope our collective conscience has been satisfied. Or is our cup of blood still only half full?
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