Dead man Walking – Afzal Guru

If the collective conscience of a nation becomes satisfied when one of us gets hanged without a chance to defend himself , it speaks a lot about ourselves.

Afzal Guru

Will Afzal Guru be hanged today ? He should be – says the great Indian middle class and its drum beater the Indian media. The mercy petition filed by his family – though he has not asked for mercy – is now in the hands of the President of India pending reference from the home ministry.

So are we ready to kill Afzal Guru for the December 13 2001 attack on the Parliament of India. Are we ready to ready to put the last nail in the coffin of popular resistance in Kashmir and terrorism in India. Yes we are as the euphoria clearly suggests.

The Supreme Court verdict says “The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.”

The question is who is the offender here ? Who perpeterated the crime – who did it ? Who investigated it ? Did this person whom the holy republic of India is about to collectively murder for the sheer xenophobic patriotic orgasm of it get a chance to defend himself.

Afzal Guru was not part of the attack – he surely was a sympathiser to the Kashmir cause, was aware of the attack and as the prosecution put it – did indirect favours to the terrorists. Is this reason enough for hanging him till death ?

Afzal Guru continues to maintain that he is being framed in this case – but all criminals say so – but the question is who investigated the case ? Oh our Delhi Police – they are renowned for their integrity and honesty and was recommended for the prestigious Jessica Lal and Priyadarshini Mattoo award for Justice. Then it must be correct and moreover not a single soul will come on the streets of Rajpath with lighted candles seeking justice for Afzal Guru.

And here is the best part – Afzal Guru was not given a chance to defend himself ! The Indian nation is about to hang a helpless person until he dies without giving him a chance to defend himself. We are not China,not Pakistan but we are very close to it.

There are clear indications that the Kashmir Valley will erupt in flames if Afzal is killed, fresh violence and insurgency could be the outcome. But do we – the great Indian middle class really care ? No we dont care about Kashmir, violence in Kashmir – state sponsored and otherwise has ceased to produce those necessary bowel movements for us these days, we skip that part of the newspaper in the morning. Kashmir resides in our collective amnesia. India has its largest military presence in J and K and we are safe – we can discuss about Iraq and North Korea and Bush while the valley of Gods burns its heart out in this conspiracy of nations.

On a selfish note, what do we gain ?

Will killing Afzal Guru stop the freedom movement in Kashmir ? No, but it will be a lesson to all those people out there on how tough we are. Like the British did in 1931, they hanged one Bhagat Singh from Punjab for attacking their assembly house and we Indians got so terrified that we stuck our tails in the cute space between our legs and ran home. We never asked for independence after that.

Do we need to confer martydom on Afzal Guru and make him a hero for certain causes we dont identify with ?

If the President of India decides to pardon Afzal Guru – what impact will it have on the Kashmiris. Will it be a graceful decision, a beautiful decision – its all yours to gauge. I think so.

Now if the Indian nation wants his blood despite all this ,what does it speak about us as a nation. If the collective conscience of a nation becomes satisfied when one of us gets hanged without a chance to defend himself , it speaks a lot about ourselves.

The founding fathers of our nation did not envision us to stand for wealth or power or religion. They envisioned a nation on this earth that stands for Truth. As the lion-head correctly reads – “Satyameva Jayathe” . Let us be well aware on which side of truth we are.

20 Responses to Dead man Walking – Afzal Guru

  1. Anand October 19, 2006 at 3:50 pm #

    BVN,

    What is the point you are trying to make?

    -> Capital punishment is barbaric, whatever may be the crime.

    -> The victim was not given a chance to defend himself?

    If your answer is the latter, Tell me do you really think he is not remotely connected with the planning/execution of the crime.
    If thats the case I have nothing to say and i completely agree with u. Otherwise it amounts to a crime(whatever maybe his part) which calls for the highest punishment because the attack was on Republic of India. A case of treason is indeed a rarest of rarest case amounting to capital punishment.

    If its the former, it really needs to be debated.I believe there is so much scope for capital punishment in this world.eg. You must have heard about the case against a sex-maniac who raped & killed a 2 year old girl in kerala. That person was sentenced before also for similar offence on a 10 yr old. Such ppl really dont deserve a place on earth atleast for the sake of all little ones. Do you think by keeping them in isolated conditions inside the jail and letting them eat bread with our money makes them reformed?.

    Capital punishment actually is too soft on them. They should be treated like what they did in Nazi concentration camps.

    The lines just above are a result of my frustration.In Afzals case, do you really sympathise with him or with the family of security forces who died in the attack?

  2. manojsir October 19, 2006 at 3:50 pm #

    Those who work as advocates of Afzal’s life must not forget that TERRORISTS have killed many innocent people for whom nobody like you shed tears.Out of 100 terrorists killed or hanged if a couple of them are innocent,it should not be used as a shield to save remaining 98 or 99 !!!Let Afzal be hanged as early as possible.

  3. starry nights October 19, 2006 at 5:25 pm #

    I dont believe in the death penalty, even if he was connected to the crime he should be put in jail and maybe given a life sentence.I have to agee with you.

  4. b v n October 20, 2006 at 1:53 am #

    Anand, I understand the emotion man..and sure you make sense.

    But one thing I’ve felt *you know its a personal blog* is that man is the most important thing in this world – above all other vanities like religion,caste,nation – everything.

    Treason sure is a big offense – but you and me respect the indian constitution and the republic. Afzal guru – the Kashmiri has nothing to do with it – he opposes the indian republic that torments his beautiful people. Bhagat singh did not respect his majesty – but that was not treason – was it ?

    Bhagat singh was directly involved in the crime and was hanged for good or bad. But hanging his friends or sympathisers is against law – its not justice.thats all i’m saying.The courts rule based on the evidence produced – its this evidence that is under question here.

    I do sympathise with the armed personnel who defended the sanctum sanctorum of indian democracy – my prayers are with their families. But if i sympathise with Manorama Devi who was raped and killed by our security forces in manipur,is it treason ? if one of her own kills a soldier – is it treason – should he be hanged till he dies ? Were any of those soldiers hanged ?

    man,tell you what – the attack on parliament strengthened our morale, our republic – the rape and atrocities we do in Kashmir,manipur and assam weakens it.

    then again rome was a mob and that was its undoing.hope it does not happen in india.

    thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  5. b v n October 20, 2006 at 1:56 am #

    manojsir, if the one innocent was your brother or father – would you say the same sir ?

    my inderstanding was even if 99 terrorists escape not a single innocent shud be killed.

    upto you :)

  6. b v n October 20, 2006 at 1:57 am #

    starry, you are too nice a person to think otherwise :)

  7. Appu October 20, 2006 at 5:05 pm #

    b v n, we have come a long way with peace in the kashmir struggle. I am not too sure on the “he couldnt defend himself” part, but why would we hang a person without allowing him to defend. thats a fundamental right. so i have to get back to you on that after my own research. But let me tell you this. We are a non violent nation, and even the Mahatma has said that non violence should not be seen as a weakness.

    We need to put our foot down on somethings.

    The greater good, kutta, the greater good. always.

  8. Anand October 20, 2006 at 8:52 pm #

    Well, you might differ but If you are questioning the credibility of the evidence submitted by the Delhi police, i guess our SC is smart enough to understand that – just like what they did in the case of Geelani & others .Though it raised a finger of suspicion at the lecturer, the court was quick to add that ‘suspicion alone, howsoever grave it might be, could not be the ground for the conviction of anyone’. The SC in this judgment showcased to the international community about the Independence of Indian Judiciary. I shudder to think how the americans would have reacted, if such an attack was made against Capitol Hill or the white house

    I do have a lot of reservations on the judiciary esp regarding the corruption which has creeped into it of late, but I am confident about the correctness of their verdict in this case atleast( esp after geelani episode)

    If the court had found an iota of suspicion about afzal guru’s involvement, afzal would had its mercy. In the initial judgment the SC correctly states

    “The act of the accused persons of hatching a conspiracy for attacking the Parliament House with the intention to kill the prime minister, the home minister and taking hostage the entire legislature cannot be looked upon in isolation.
    Terrorists not only kill innocent persons, but the spectra of terror also paralyses the social and economic fabric of the society. The attack on parliament sent tremors throughout the country. “

    The sad scene is that in India, life imprisonment is commuted after some years. Even though life imprisonment means imprisonment for a lifetime, it is usually 10-14 years and mostly ppl get away early with ‘good conduct’. Again they are out free , and history repeats making a billion ppl vulnerable & thinking.

    As rightly quoted by a reader to a newspaper regarding the debate on Afzal issue -> Mark Twain says about clemency to criminals and murderers in Adventures of Tom Sawyer: “This [Injun Joe's] funeral stopped the further growth of one thing — the petition to the governor for Injun Joe’s pardon … Injun Joe was believed to have killed five citizens of the village, but what of that? If he had been Satan himself there would have been plenty of weaklings ready to scribble their names to a pardon-petition, and drip a tear on it from their permanently impaired and leaky water-works.”

    The last thing i want is to make afzal a martyr out of this.

  9. b v n October 20, 2006 at 9:29 pm #

    Appu, Where are we a non-violent nation ? Kashmir,North East,Gujarat, Mumbai,against the naxals ?. How far have we come on Kashmir – a state that still has its own national symbols and shudders at the mention of India ?

    Why was there no public inquiry into the attack on parliament ?

    And as I said before, on avery selfish note – do we make this guy a martyr or keep him to rot in prison.

    as you said, greater good man greater good !

  10. b v n October 20, 2006 at 9:51 pm #

    Anand,

    On the political side as you said,
    “You will be making him a hero for centuries to come …you are giving a massive weapon to the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir,” – says the pro-Indian ex-CM Farooq Abdullah.

    In Priyadarshini Mattoo case, the trial court judge had said “I know you are guilty – but I’m helpless with the evidence provided” and he let the rapist go. That is Indian Judiciary.

    two legal opinions on Afzal,

    1.The defence of Mohammad Afzal, the key figure in the state- sponsored story of conspiracy, suffered the most. With great difficulty, Geelani’s defence managed to produce some witnesses; Afzal had none. He had no legal defence in the period between his arrest on December 15, 2001 and the filing of the charge sheet on May 14, 2005; in other words, no counsel had studied the complex case.

    2.Afzal Guru was denied any worthwhile legal assistance at the trial court – the most crucial stage where evidences were produced and examined, and the Supreme Court of India has rejected the confession that is the basis of his conviction in the trial court. Furthermore, the prosecution, has accused him as a facilitator and not as one directly perpetrating the said crime. And the case of the prosecution stands entirely on “circumstancial evidences”. Consequently death penalty, in any case, is grossly disproportionate in this case.

    I’m not sure where you are from – In kerala we had a similar figure – Madani – who was implicated in the Coimbatore bombings – he still rots in prison without even a chargesheet being filed.

    There is so much of confusion around Afzal, if a whole lot of ppl feel that there was no free trial. why not give him a chance for that ?

    If we kill him and in a few years the “real” story comes out – the republic will stand naked.

  11. Anand October 21, 2006 at 4:17 pm #

    Our judiciary functions solely on evidences, mostly circumstantial – thats the way jurisprudence is. Agreed there are so many lapses in the Indian Judicial system. But there are many factors which influence a verdict, esp in national senstitive cases like this.

    You said Kashmir would erupt, if Afzal is hanged. What do u think will happen if Afzal is set free – the rest of india would erupt?. I am sure the collective conscience of the nation would take a beating. So will the morale of all our security personnels.

    Ok. Fine. If you think Afzal was denied any worthwhile legal assistance at the trial court, let him get another fair trial. If still the court finds him guilty, will you agree upon capital punishment on him?.

    If his involvement proves beyond suspicion, what verdict do you suggest should be given on him if you are against death penalty?.

    And yes I come from kerala. Yeah i am against keeping a person in jail without giving a chance to defend himself or even without a chargesheet filed.But i guess our executive has very solid reasons to keep up a person like this. I have heard some of madanis speeches. God , a couple of persons like him and our kerala will burn. Somehow madani never caught my sympathy.

    I know its ur personal views. And I am not being argumentative. I just love sharing thoughts & ideas.
    Cheers!

  12. b v n October 24, 2006 at 6:17 am #

    Anand, see here we are agreeing on a lot of things.

    i dont care abt capital punishment – but what i’m uncomfortable is a nations outcry and thirst for blood.if after a fair trial dude is guilty – give him the normal sentence – whatever it is.

    Even in Gandhi assasination, savarkar wasnt hanged rite ?

    i too heard madani a coupla times and dont agree to him anywhere. But i do beleive we are mature enough to let him speak.

    Neways those were some nice thoughts from yr end. dont you have a blog ? btw

  13. Sachin R K October 24, 2006 at 8:43 am #

    Your defence of Afzal was disturbing , to say the least. This of a person who was found guilty by the Supreme Court twice ( trial and review petition ).The same Court acquitted Geelani even though it commented that ‘his conduct during the period was very disturbing’. To take just one line from the judgement ( re ‘Collective conscience of society’ ) is neither fair to the judiciary nor to the learned judges. In another case , the Supreme Court has recently ruled that a person who has been found guily and convicted by 3 different courts cannot claim that he did not get a fair trial – this is what has happened in Afzal’s case.

    Your point that we should not hang Afzal as otherwise this will give an impetus to terorism in Kashmir is tantamount to blackmail. The stories in media or the strikes in Kashmir, or pictures of his young son should not sway the majesty of the law.

    You speak disparagingly of the Delhi Police in the Jessica Lal and Priyadarshini Matto cases – would we even be aware of their shameful investigations if they had not been exposed by this same judiciary. The Constitution of India provides for the Supreme Court as the highest court of appeal. Let us not undermine the prestige of this court by indulging in a trial by media.

  14. b v n October 28, 2006 at 8:55 pm #

    Sachin,

    If you found the post disturbing, know that – thats exactly why it is here. Rest of it I have replied in previous comments.

    And it might be funny – only 2 kinds of people want Afzal to be hanged now – the militants in Kashmir who want a martyr and the cowardly hindu fundamentalists.

  15. Sachin R K October 29, 2006 at 6:34 pm #

    bvn , Well well well..no prizes for guessing what category I come in under your classification…not sure what makes me so cowardly though…theres a difference between us alright ..and not just in our opinions…I repect your right to state an opinion which may be unpalatable to me…wish could say the same for you.

    Cheers,

    Sachin.

  16. b v n October 30, 2006 at 1:47 am #

    Sachin, hey..i was just quoting an editorial from express. you shudnt have called yourself a hindu fundamentalist and I didnt mean it.

    I do have respect for conflicting opinion, thats why I publish the comments rite :)

    btw, chk out this article in outlook – you mite have seen this before

    http://outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20061030&fname=Cover+Story+%28F%29&sid=1&pn=1

  17. b v n October 30, 2006 at 1:51 am #

    http://outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname
    =20061030&fname=Cover+Story+%28F%29&sid=1&pn=1

  18. Sachin R K October 31, 2006 at 2:07 am #

    bvn…no offence meant and none taken :)

    Cheers,

    Sachin.

  19. Anand November 1, 2006 at 7:39 pm #

    This is more funnier – only two kinds of people cry for afzals’ freedom – his family ( which includes the global militant family) & the brave, outspoken, liberal people who have human rights running in every ounce of their blood and label themselves as sole custodians of truth & justice all over the world.

    Vide reference to your above mentioned link,If the Indian Judiciary were to function like what Arundathi Roy want, I think every case will have to be adjourned till infinity or closed down because nobody would be carrying a camera around waiting for criminals to make a public announcement before each crime.

    The Judiciary is what I consider as the most important pillar of Indian Democracy & the one which I have the utmost respect for out of the other two.

    Me yet to own a blog. But I read them and came across yours through Soorya’s blog :-). You always have some point to make. But quite a nice page. Different thoughts, opinions. Some of them really kept me thinking. Good work.

    Nice knowing u :-)

    Cheers,
    Anand.

  20. b v n November 6, 2006 at 5:59 pm #

    Anand, sorry for replying late :( and there is no reply…this time i’ll let you have the last word :))
    and wud love to read yr thoughts if you start posting. great meeting you too.

    cheers !!

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