Most of the Muslim groups have reacted sharply to the hanging of the 2001 Parliament attack case convict Mohammed Afzal Guru early on Saturday morning. While some of them talked about the larger fight against terror and “accepted” the decision of the government, others highlighted the political context of his hanging just before the 2014 elections and Budget session of Parliament. Some also suggested that it had the potential to alienate Kashmiris at a time when militancy in the State was largely contained.
Maulana Arshad Madani, head of the influential organisation of Deoband clerics Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind (JUH), said the execution should be accepted by people as it was preceded by “due process of law.” Arguing that the matter belongs to the safety and security of the nation and fight against terrorism, he said: “We respect the decision from the Supreme Court as the matter was investigated right from the trial court to the apex court and there is no space for alleging injustice.”
Welfare Party of India, a political party affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind questioned the timing of the hanging. Arguing that it was meant to get “political benefits,” its leader Dr. Tasleem Rahmani said: “The Congress party sat on this case all this time and now when it was facing a tough political situation, it decided to execute the 2001 Parliament attack case convict.”
President of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella body of Indian Muslim organisations, Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan said Afzal Guru’s execution was “legally and morally unjustified and hasty as he did not get a fair trial in the first place. At best, he was a secondary player. He did not take part in the actual attack.”
“The final verdict too had other considerations as the Supreme Court itself said in its verdict: ‘The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender’,” he added.
Comparing Afzal’s hanging to Maqbool Bhat’s execution, Dr. Khan said the Union government was “reckless” to take the “risky, hasty and dubious” step which had the real risk of revival of militancy in the conflict-torn valley.
Meanwhile, several civil society activists present at the Second Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture in the capital on Saturday, adopted a resolution, condemning “in no uncertain terms the hanging of Afzal Guru by stealth and in secrecy, disallowing him the last judicial resort that was due to him.’’
“We condemn the callous denial to Afzal Guru the last opportunity to meet his family,” the resolution said, adding: “There is ample documentation to demonstrate that Afzal Guru’s trial was vitiated; that his legal defence was compromised; that fabricated and forged evidence was submitted to, and accepted by the court, the highest of which, admitted while sentencing him to death that this was done to satisfy the ‘collective conscience of the nation.’ We strongly oppose the cold-blooded execution of Afzal Guru.”