February 15, 2013

The cowardly and inhumane hanging of Afzal Guru by the government and the pain of being an Indian Muslim

Kasab was a terrorist from across the border – a man who was seen killing innocent Indians, by millions, almost live on TV! He had to be hanged and announcing it in advance could have created international cross-border tension. His secret hanging was understandable though the political calculations in the times of a fast rising pro-Narendra Modi wave and an intention to extract credit was apparent. Although there was euphoria around the Kasab hanging, the fact is that the hanging didn't benefit the government – it at best reduced ammunition in the hands of the BJP to criticize Congress. The government apparently didn't learn lessons from that episode. With the intention of creating another wave of euphoria, this time they executed Afzal Guru in a similar fashion. Guru, however, can by no stretch of imagination be equated with Kasab. In fact, his is a case where the veracity about his very involvement has been questioned by far too many intellectuals, Arundhati Roy included. In the book titled 13 December, a Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament, Praful Bidwai – one of the contributors – makes a most compelling argument. Afzal was tried under POTA, but sentenced under the Indian Penal Code. POTA clearly differentiates between committing a terrorist act resulting in death (punishable by death) and conspiracy in the act (punishable by life imprisonment). While the book finds out endless loopholes in the government theory and charges created on Afzal, the way he was threatened and tortured, at least one thing is very clear – that Guru had at the most conspired to the act; yet, that allegation too, as I just said, is very debatable, despite the Supreme Court’s verdict. And if conspiracy is the main crime, then in that case the death sentence itself is a debatable punishment, though I have to accept that like many others – before I had read enough on the matter and especially this particular book – I too was happy at the death sentence and unhappy at the delay in the hanging, since the media was running its own judgment on who the culprit was and creating a massive villain out of Guru.

But today, upon hearing the news of his hanging, I am shocked! I have three key questions running in my mind:

1. Is the Indian State so weak that it cannot bravely announce the hanging of a terrorist in advance and then hang him, as is normal practice? What kind of utter shameful cowardice is this?

2. In these days of growing human rights and the worldwide humane movement towards abolishment of capital punishment, how can a government commit this inhuman act of not informing the family in advance and not allowing a man to meet his family before his death? What kind of a shameful society are we living in, which first gives a debatable verdict and then denies a man his basic rights before something as extreme as capital punishment?

3. Has the government already conceded defeat to Narendra Modi and started doing illogical and mindlessly inhumane acts, which will in no way give them any extra credit? And is there no one with sound mind to advice the roughshod losers out there looking for cheap, atrocious shortcuts to popularity?



rahul said...

I have been a fan of your article but I don't quite agree with this one...

Sangeeta Raipuria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sangeeta Raipuria said...

Indian sysytem hardly takes the right decision on time but this one came at the right time.....

sonu kumar said...

Great to see someone speaking about this topic!

Arpan said...

Its a negative step by Indian government,afzal deserve to die but not like this..

Nutan Xalxo said...

I don't think the decision to hang Afzal was wrong....do such people think about the innocent people who lose their life because of them?then why to have pity on these guys!!!

suman kumari said...

No offense but i completely disagree with this article.

Rakesh kumar said...

This is how the attitude of a judicial system should be....no mercy!!!!!!!!!

Avinash Shukla said...

Perhaps you Mr. Arindam might be more happy when the public announcement made by the Govt would have escalated tension in the Kashmir valley and might have fueled to already sporadic violence killing innocent people.
You didn't die in the parliament attack neither did any of your family members, but there were policemen who died there, you didn't reach out for support to their families, you just sit in comfort of your home and write something absurd just by reading a book.
"Thank You" for your insight less comment and politicizing a hanging.

PS: Your personal page is not very password protected here. Please keep it locked so that no one else but you could read it.

Kaveesh Pareek said...

I also agree with rahul . . . Involving modi in everything and keeping a soft corner for these kinds of terrorists is no where justifies . . . talking about the human rights of these terrorists is just like supporting there terror . . . its the time when india need to set an example for enemy countries , if u mess with us we r not going to leave you. and what about the human rights of those people who got killed in mass murders by there terrorists . i can agree that it was a cowardly hanging , is just because they should be hanged in public , not after making them national hero , i am afraid if one day we will see a movie releasing in pakisthan with the title saeed Afzal Guru or the legend of kasab :/

mohammed siddiqui said...

I don't intend to support any illegal activity or act of terrorism but as I am a Muslim my comment may be taken wrongly. Coming to topic - I agree with Mr Chaudhuri's comments, govt took this step in a haste so as to counter Modi. I believe that Afzal Guru has been punished by law which has different standards for different people. What is the govt doing about Rajauna (terrorist attacking and killing innocent Sikh), dara Singh (murderer of Staines), rajiv's killers, veerappan's aides. Terrorism should be dealt with strong laws, speedy and impartial justice. There are numerous such examples of double standards by judicial system.

Asifuddin said...

Hats off to Mr Arindam Chaudhuri for being well balanced and objective.

I wish to just add one question to his three questions:

4. What's the fun in burying the hanged prisoners in the jail premises? Is it a museum of a sort? This raises many eyebrows, as to what treatment was meted out to him before the 'hanging'!

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