The Congress party has had a long history of tailoring its actions and policies to bolster its electoral prospects. Not even the party’s hardened supporters will believe that the government has suddenly decided to act tough on terrorism. The party doesn’t want to approach voters in the upcoming general election with a “soft on terror” image. The crime was heinous, but the arbitrary way in which the death row prisoner’s mercy petition was handled has dented the nation’s image.
If we are to believe that the secret hanging had anything whatsoever, to do with acting “tough” against terrorism then we can also start to believe in tooth fairies. What happened on February 9 is clearly aimed at appeasing the so-called public “conscience” so as to reap the dividends in 2014. The actions of the government are of course egregious, but what is more worrying is the kind of society we are becoming. If a political party believes that we can be appeased by actions such as these then what kind of a society are we? We are still far away from realising that to rejoice at a death is not patriotism or nationalism. It is jingoism.
Afzal Guru’s last moments made for sorrowful reading. Now that expressions of joy and jubilation are over, at the end of the day, I ask myself: was justice meted out to him and was not the hanging avoidable? The fact that his family was not allowed a last glimpse of him is not only a serious lapse but is also indicative of the vengeful and cruel attitude of the government. As an act, the hanging has lowered the image and pride of the nation. India should now join the vast majority of countries in abolishing the death penalty at the earliest.