The special editorial (Feb. 10) voices the feelings of many in the country and elsewhere who feel that capital punishment is a barbaric and heinous crime, no less barbaric than the act it seeks to deter. It shows that sane, rational and civilised public opinion is still alive. The mob has emerged triumphant and justice has succumbed to its frenzy. Those in power and who are blindfolded should read it.
While I cannot comment on the court awarding the death penalty to Afzal Guru or the Presidential rejection of his mercy petition, I cannot remain tight-lipped on the denial of dignity in death to him (“Afzal Guru buried in Tihar jail,” Feb. 10). The Home Ministry cannot justify by any means communicating its decision to his family by Speed Post. Burying his body on the jail’s premises shows the lack of dignity to him as well as his family. If the death penalty could be termed as the rule of law, the process of execution followed was both heinous and a betrayal of faith. It has been rightly called it as “extinction.”
This is an expeditious execution —many may not agree with this point of view — aimed at gaining political mileage for the UPA government and mobilising some amount of right wing support for it while sacrificing the larger interests of the nation not explicitly visible to the public.
Patriotically speaking, the attack on Parliament can be said to be an attack on India. But, does such an attack fall within the realms of “rarest of rare cases” warranting the awarding of the death sentence to its conspirator? It was only on the basis of circumstantial evidence that capital punishment was handed over to him. President Mukherjee ought to have commuted Afzal’s death penalty to imprisonment for life.
The hanging is a sad and grim reminder that the State will stoop to any level to tighten its hold on the democratic system given the complex situation it is in. And the manner in which the whole process was carried out, including how the family was informed, leads one to believe that something other than justice was at the heart of the decision.
The UPA has sinister designs in the hanging of both Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru. The Modi factor looms large in its face. In an effort to blunt any move that Modi might make in the run-up to 2014, it is playing a very dangerous game of one-upmanship. The Congress party is trying to wean away the Hindu vote bank from the BJP. In the attempt to pander to a disgruntled middle class, one can expect both principal parties to play with sentiments.
The hanging is barbaric and Afzal was hanged to satisfy a political agenda. The death penalty must be abolished.