“As the State does not give life, [it] does not have right to take it either,” Fr. Ambrose Pinto, administrator of St. Joseph’s Evening College, said at a demonstration against capital punishment here on Tuesday. The agitation was called following the spate of executions with President Pranab Mukherjee rejecting mercy petitions.
Addressing a gathering of human rights activists, he said that there was no evidence to suggest that death penalties contributed to a decline in the crime rate.
Referring to the recent hanging of Afzal Guru, Director of the South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), Mathews Philip, said: “Being a democracy, we are still following death penalty laws implemented during the British regime, oppressing human rights. Killing a man in secrecy and not letting his family perform the last rites is not the mark of democracy. It’s a grave human rights violation.”
In a memorandum submitted to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, the demonstrators sought the commutation of death sentences awarded to forest brigand Veerapan’s aides, Bilevendran, Simon, Madaiah and Gnanaprakash, who were convicted of killing 22 persons in landmine blasts in Palar.
Activists from SICHREM, Peoples Democratic Forum, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations and People’s Union for Civil Liberties - Karnataka participated in the protest.