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Updated: October 24, 2011 19:19 IST

A Hanging

George Orwell
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George Orwell, who served for a while in the British Imperial Police, described the execution of an unidentified prisoner in a 1931 essay.
George Orwell, who served for a while in the British Imperial Police, described the execution of an unidentified prisoner in a 1931 essay.

The barbarity and “unspeakable wrongness” of capital punishment — of “cutting a life short when it is in full tide” — has rarely been brought out as powerfully and as movingly as in George Orwell's 2000-word essay, “A Hanging.” Published in 1931 in The Adelphi, a British literary magazine, this journalistic gem describes the execution of a criminal in Burma — where Eric Arthur Blair, which was Orwell's real name, served in the British Imperial Police between 1922 and 1927. The clinical tone of the narration of the forced march to the gallows serves as a perfect foil to the moral revulsion and horror that Orwell wanted his readers to experience. The Hindu publishes, with permission from the copyright holder, “A Hanging” as part of its editorial campaign for the abolition of capital punishment in India. This is in the context of the scheduled execution, now stayed, of three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and the impending execution of other convicts on death row Editor-in-Chief.

It was in Burma, a sodden morning of the rains. A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard. We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. Each cell measured about ten feet by ten and was quite bare within except for a plank bed and a pot of drinking water. In some of them brown silent men were squatting at the inner bars, with their blankets draped round them. These were the condemned men, due to be hanged within the next week or two.

One prisoner had been brought out of his cell. He was a Hindu, a puny wisp of a man, with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes. He had a thick, sprouting moustache, absurdly too big for his body, rather like the moustache of a comic man on the films. Six tall Indian warders were guarding him and getting him ready for the gallows. Two of them stood by with rifles and fixed bayonets, while the others handcuffed him, passed a chain through his handcuffs and fixed it to their belts, and lashed his arms tight to his sides. They crowded very close about him, with their hands always on him in a careful, caressing grip, as though all the while feeling him to make sure he was there. It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water. But he stood quite unresisting, yielding his arms limply to the ropes, as though he hardly noticed what was happening.

Eight o'clock struck and a bugle call, desolately thin in the wet air, floated from the distant barracks. The superintendent of the jail, who was standing apart from the rest of us, moodily prodding the gravel with his stick, raised his head at the sound. He was an army doctor, with a grey toothbrush moustache and a gruff voice. ‘For God's sake hurry up, Francis,' he said irritably. ‘ The man ought to have been dead by this time. Aren't you ready yet?'

Francis, the head jailer, a fat Dravidian in a white drill suit and gold spectacles, waved his black hand. ‘Yes sir, yes sir,' he bubbled. ‘All iss satisfactorily prepared. The hangman iss waiting. We shall proceed.'

‘Well, quick march, then. The prisoners can't get their breakfast till this job's over.'

We set out for the gallows. Two warders marched on either side of the prisoner, with their rifles at the slope; two others marched close against him, gripping him by arm and shoulder, as though at once pushing and supporting him. The rest of us, magistrates and the like, followed behind. Suddenly, when we had gone ten yards, the procession stopped short without any order or warning. A dreadful thing had happened — a dog, come goodness knows whence, had appeared in the yard. It came bounding among us with a loud volley of barks, and leapt round us wagging its whole body, wild with glee at finding so many human beings together. It was a large woolly dog, half Airedale … For a moment it pranced round us, and then, before anyone could stop it, it had made a dash for the prisoner, and jumping up tried to lick his face. Everyone stood aghast, too taken aback even to grab at the dog.

‘Who let that bloody brute in here?' said the superintendent angrily. ‘Catch it, someone!'

A warder, detached from the escort, charged clumsily after the dog, but it danced and gambolled just out of his reach, taking everything as part of the game. A young Eurasian jailer picked up a handful of gravel and tried to stone the dog away, but it dodged the stones and came after us again. Its yaps echoed from the jail wails. The prisoner, in the grasp of the two warders, looked on incuriously, as though this was another formality of the hanging. It was several minutes before someone managed to catch the dog. Then we put my handkerchief through its collar and moved off once more, with the dog still straining and whimpering.

It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working — bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming — all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned — reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone — one mind less, one world less.

The gallows stood in a small yard, separate from the main grounds of the prison, and overgrown with tall prickly weeds. It was a brick erection like three sides of a shed, with planking on top, and above that two beams and a crossbar with the rope dangling. The hangman, a grey-haired convict in the white uniform of the prison, was waiting beside his machine. He greeted us with a servile crouch as we entered. At a word from Francis the two warders, gripping the prisoner more closely than ever, half led, half pushed him to the gallows and helped him clumsily up the ladder. Then the hangman climbed up and fixed the rope round the prisoner's neck.

We stood waiting, five yards away. The warders had formed in a rough circle round the gallows. And then, when the noose was fixed, the prisoner began crying out on his god. It was a high, reiterated cry of ‘Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!', not urgent and fearful like a prayer or a cry for help, but steady, rhythmical, almost like the tolling of a bell. The dog answered the sound with a whine. The hangman, still standing on the gallows, produced a small cotton bag like a flour bag and drew it down over the prisoner's face. But the sound, muffled by the cloth, still persisted, over and over again: ‘Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!'

The hangman climbed down and stood ready, holding the lever. Minutes seemed to pass. The steady, muffled crying from the prisoner went on and on, ‘Ram! Ram! Ram!' never faltering for an instant. The superintendent, his head on his chest, was slowly poking the ground with his stick; perhaps he was counting the cries, allowing the prisoner a fixed number — fifty, perhaps, or a hundred. Everyone had changed colour. The Indians had gone grey like bad coffee, and one or two of the bayonets were wavering. We looked at the lashed, hooded man on the drop, and listened to his cries — each cry another second of life; the same thought was in all our minds: oh, kill him quickly, get it over, stop that abominable noise!

Suddenly the superintendent made up his mind. Throwing up his head he made a swift motion with his stick. ‘Chalo!' he shouted almost fiercely.

There was a clanking noise, and then dead silence. The prisoner had vanished, and the rope was twisting on itself. I let go of the dog, and it galloped immediately to the back of the gallows; but when it got there it stopped short, barked, and then retreated into a corner of the yard, where it stood among the weeds, looking timorously out at us. We went round the gallows to inspect the prisoner's body. He was dangling with his toes pointed straight downwards, very slowly revolving, as dead as a stone.

The superintendent reached out with his stick and poked the bare body; it oscillated, slightly. ‘He's all right,' said the superintendent. He backed out from under the gallows, and blew out a deep breath. The moody look had gone out of his face quite suddenly. He glanced at his wrist-watch. ‘Eight minutes past eight. Well, that's all for this morning, thank God.'

The warders unfixed bayonets and marched away. The dog, sobered and conscious of having misbehaved itself, slipped after them. We walked out of the gallows yard, past the condemned cells with their waiting prisoners, into the big central yard of the prison. The convicts, under the command of warders armed with lathis, were already receiving their breakfast. They squatted in long rows, each man holding a tin pannikin, while two warders with buckets marched round ladling out rice; it seemed quite a homely, jolly scene, after the hanging. An enormous relief had come upon us now that the job was done. One felt an impulse to sing, to break into a run, to snigger. All at once everyone began chattering gaily.

The Eurasian boy walking beside me nodded towards the way we had come, with a knowing smile: ‘Do you know, sir, our friend (he meant the dead man), when he heard his appeal had been dismissed, he pissed on the floor of his cell. From fright. — Kindly take one of my cigarettes, sir. Do you not admire my new silver case, sir? From the boxwallah, two rupees eight annas. Classy European style.'

Several people laughed — at what, nobody seemed certain.

Francis was walking by the superintendent, talking garrulously. ‘Well, sir, all hass passed off with the utmost satisfactoriness. It wass all finished — flick! like that. It iss not always so — oah, no! I have known cases where the doctor wass obliged to go beneath the gallows and pull the prisoner's legs to ensure decease. Most disagreeable!'

‘Wriggling about, eh? That's bad,' said the superintendent.

‘Ach, sir, it iss worse when they become refractory! One man, I recall, clung to the bars of hiss cage when we went to take him out. You will scarcely credit, sir, that it took six warders to dislodge him, three pulling at each leg. We reasoned with him. “My dear fellow,” we said, “think of all the pain and trouble you are causing to us!” But no, he would not listen! Ach, he wass very troublesome!'

I found that I was laughing quite loudly. Everyone was laughing. Even the superintendent grinned in a tolerant way. ‘You'd better all come out and have a drink,' he said quite genially. ‘I've got a bottle of whisky in the car. We could do with it.'

We went through the big double gates of the prison, into the road. ‘ Pulling at his legs!' exclaimed a Burmese magistrate suddenly, and burst into a loud chuckling. We all began laughing again. At that moment Francis's anecdote seemed extraordinarily funny. We all had a drink together, native and European alike, quite amicably. The dead man was a hundred yards away.

1931 — © By permission of the Estate of the Late Sonia Brownell Orwell

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' spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path....' - brought tears to my eyes! A life is taken as a punishment for life taken - an eye for an eye - a crime for a crime - barbarity in place of barbarity... when will we ever learn?

from:  Naveen
Posted on: Sep 10, 2011 at 19:34 IST

The debate on "Death penalty" whether to keep it or abolish it, should not be taken up in the background of impending death penalties. People get swayed by emotions and politicians complicate the situation as usual by taking it to the streets.

from:  Venugopalan
Posted on: Sep 9, 2011 at 20:58 IST

I applaud The Hindu for bringing out this essay and taking up an issue as touchy as capital punishment,especially in our country. I definitely agree that Kasab,Afzal and even those involved in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination deserved to be punished,it is the only way justice and peace can be given to the victims and their families. I just don't think capital punishment is the solution. The loss of one life cannot be a substitute for the loss of another. After all 'an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind'.

from:  Meghna
Posted on: Sep 6, 2011 at 21:26 IST

I would like to point out that although the issue of death penalty is very important, the reason why we took up the case of Afzal was because he was not given a fair trial; he did not have a lawyer and important witnesses (including the Investigating Officer) were not cross examined. Secondly, Afzal was niether involved in the planning or killing.Lastly, the reasoning given by the Supreme Court was that Afzal should hang to satisfy the conscinece of the country.This is neither legally permissible and is morally repugnant.On political grounds I would like to point out that B Raman the country's foremost security expert has also written that it would not be wise to hang Afzal. His article is available on the internet.
When I published my book 'Framing Geelani, hanging Afzal, Patriotism in time of terror' the Indian media ignored it. That is a reflection of intolerance of our society and the campaign against death penalty will I hope undermine that in some measure.

from:  Nandita Haksar
Posted on: Sep 6, 2011 at 13:00 IST

The behaviour of the supdt of police was perhaps not up to the mark and dog perhaps proved superior at understanding the value of the soul as superior to body.The narration by the Jailer in broken language was plain sycophancy. A good piece of literature .

from:  Dr Bhawani Shanker Modi
Posted on: Sep 5, 2011 at 14:14 IST

During the British rule, people who were sentenced to capital punishment were not necessarily perpetrators of heinous crimes. The convict might well have been a good man or a patriot. I wonder if Ajmal Kasab, Afzal Guru or three convicts of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination would bother avoiding a puddle on their way to gallows.

Posted on: Sep 4, 2011 at 23:07 IST

Touching as your campaign is for the abolition of the death penalty, I do not recall any such campaign (pls correct me if I'm wrong) by your esteemed newspaper when a Bengali named Dhanajay Mohaptra was hanged by the Left government in West Bengal in 2004. If it has been the paper's "consistent stand for decades" that the death penalty must go, why did you not demand that Dhananjay should not be hanged why were you silent then? The Hindu's recent editorials on death penalty and the publication of the essay The Hanging by George Orwell raises doubts if this newspaper is indirectly advocating the release from the gallows of the trio responsible for Rajiv Gandhi's gruesome assassination. And what is the newspaper's stand on Afzal and Kasab?

from:  Vijaya Subramanian
Posted on: Sep 3, 2011 at 23:32 IST

One could write a tome of sadness at the inhumanity of the whole thing but all I can say is that I have no words to describe my feelings of utter sadness on reading this story. George Orwell was truly a genius in descriptive writing stories that could wring the reader's heart the way this story has done.

from:  Deepak Menon
Posted on: Sep 2, 2011 at 13:52 IST

I think capital punishment should not be completely abolished for reasons many comments have already made in the above paragraphs. While Orwell successfully manages to create a scenario where he would expect is readers to not agree to the concept of capital punishment, I think the readers would also be willing to imagine the barbarity with which the accused would have committed the original crime of killing someone. Surely the victim also had all organs functioning before being killed ( that is why he felt the need to kill him/her). Thought the procedures through which capital punishment is awarded should be looked into and improved, total abolition of the concept is not something i support.

from:  Sundas
Posted on: Sep 2, 2011 at 04:42 IST

Many of the people protesting this punishment are the same who sentenced Sadiq Batcha to death. What was that poor man´s crime? He was only 46.

from:  James Gurung
Posted on: Sep 2, 2011 at 00:25 IST

On one hand politics plays its role to prevent the law of the land to complete its duties and on the other we write about the other inhumane side of giving capital punishment. If we fail to punish the killer of a mass leader(and that too by the principles laid as per the most eveolved law in our country - Our Constitution) how do we provide justice to the average human being of this country. I wish those who ask if we are civilized realise the fact that we aren't yet civilized in the utopian sense and look into ourselves - our society and ask if we could even do away with the very inhumane caste system which we face in every day life.

from:  Krish
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 23:59 IST

It's a pity to read that The Hindu is showing mercy for the people who get capital punishment for doing crime against humanity, ruins life of many people, makes life a living hell for many. Rather, I feel that capital punishment is too easy for criminals who have done heinous crimes . Few moments of fear, few words to Ram and a sudden jolt. But for victims every further moment of life is too difficult to live or not worth living, for suicide is a crime and mercy death is illegal.

from:  Sapna Goel
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 23:20 IST

The part of the story that made an impact on me is the behaviour of the policemen who were preparing the prisoner for hanging: "They crowded very close about him, with their hands always on him in a careful, caressing grip, as though all the while feeling him to make sure he was there". They were probably following a laid-down procedure. This kind of exaggerated, dramatic, precaution to prevent a prisoner escaping or even struggling might be all right for dealing with persons convicted of violent crimes. However, the sight of policemen or other investigating officials clinging on to the accused in non-violent crimes -- like those in corruption cases -- with arms around the shoulders of the accused and/or with fingers of the hands interlaced, is far from amusing, and might actually create sympathy for the accused. Apparently, the cops feel like big-game hunters who have to show off their trophies.

from:  TSR
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 17:29 IST

It is true that capital punishment needs to be done away for it is gruesome, however let us not forget that the assassination of the PM was an act of terror and horrendous that shook the entire nation. The Hindu is right in its opinion describing the feeling of the man being led to the gallows and that capital punishment be discontinued, but, allow me to voice my opinion, that in India life imprisonment is the next punishment in severity, if we can bring in rigorous imprisonment for more number of years, say 50 years or even more; like it in some countries, we can do away with capital punishment. Till then we may have to continue with capital punishment.

from:  Samya
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 17:15 IST

Do The Hindu takes the same stand in case of Afzal Guru and Kasab as it has taken in the case of three Tamil terrorists?

from:  Shahid B Syed
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 13:00 IST

Had it been a US president who was murdered in a terrorist attack, then the guys couldn't have hidden in any part of the world. No country in world forgives enemy of the state. Here in India, terrorists have been killing Indians in Mumbai, Kashmir, Kandhar and who knows where else. And all we talk about is about pardoning. These cold blooded murderers should be hanged as an example.

from:  Umesh
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 12:27 IST

Our Judges, home ministry, political parties and our President need to appreciate this writing more than anybody else.

from:  Pramod Upadhyay
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 11:15 IST

What do we want to achieve by capital punishment? -Once executed the guilty would not feel anything. We should only hope that a better punishment is meted out in hell, if there is one. -Life imprisonment is a reasonable deterrent for any perpetrator who is willing to think of repercussions, if that's the only reason govt is aiming for. I feel swift justice and punishment might be a better deterrent.
And if the intention is to protect the society from any further damage / pain from the guilty, then again life imprisonment could be the solution. Just because the government is executing the punishment doesn't make it anything other than a vengeful action.

from:  Avani
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 10:43 IST

We need to accept the fact evil exists in this world at all times. Will capital punishment completely erase evil? The answer is No. But it is the duty of every responsible society to render justice and punish criminals. Once the accused is proven guilty of premeditated murder, laws of the society will decide which way he or she would spend the rest of their life. All actions have consequences and every sane individual needs to realize that.

It is an irony that Hitler and Gandhi were living in different parts of the world at the same time. Eye for an eye turns the whole world blind sounds both noble and lofty, but it applies to civilized people who act responsibly. Gandhiji’s fasting and prayer may not have stopped Hitler's holocaust. Even the avatars of Vishnu speak about crime and punishment. Yes human life is very precious and needs to be protected but terrorists who killed Rajiv Gandhi did not do it by accident. It was planned and executed like a mission.

from:  A.S.Prasad
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 10:35 IST

Orwell's account is profoundly evocative. It disturbingly reveals how we make conscious efforts to banalize the evil in which we are implicated and in doing so we avoid shouldering the burden of guilt. What he also points out is the brutal infrastructure of the State whether punitive or coercive.It is anti-human as he would suggest. But can the State be anything other than an arrangement of brute forces of law that discipline and punish? 'Ramrajya' is a utopian myth. Capital punisment cannot be dispensed with.

from:  Ashok K Mohapatra
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 10:26 IST

Will Hindu take the same position publicly when it comes to Afzal Guru or even Kasab? I think the job of the Press is to inform people, not run campaigns. To run a campaign such as this or the agitation against corruption, is to arrogate power to oneself through misuse of one's position as a media house.
While I support the view that capital punishment be abolished, it is not an easy decision. Till we reach there, death sentence should be given in rarest of rare cases where a heinous crime is committed after deliberate preparation and intent to cause maximum pain to many. I think the power to pardon also should be taken away keeping the onus on the judges who award the sentence in the first place.

from:  Shekhar Sathe
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 10:15 IST

We need to accept the fact evil exists in this world at all times. Will capital punishment completely erase evil? The answer is No. But it is the duty of every responsible society to render justice and punish criminals.If the accused is proven guilty of premeditated murder, society will decide which way he or she would spend the rest of their life. All actions have consequences and every sane individual needs to realize that. It is an irony that Hitler and Gandhi were living in different parts of the world at the same time.Eye for an Eye turns the whole world blind is great but it applies to civilized people who act responsibly. Gandhiji's fasting and prayer may not have stopped Hitler's holocaust. Even the avatars of Vishnu speak about crime and punishment. Why do we have moral relativity and situational ethics?
Yes human life is very precious and needs to be protected but terrorists who killed Rajiv Gandhi did not do it by accident. It was planned and executed like a mission.

from:  A.S.Prasad
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 10:14 IST

L.K.Advani once said Ram,Ram,Ram to the electorate and the BJP says Ram ,Ram ,Ram to its voters and and the condemmed man said Ram, Ram, Ram to Ram himself but the frightening thing is that he may have been innocent after all.Afzal Guru may really have been a police agent made a scapegoat.There are so many cases of innocent persons receiving capital punishment with their innocence coming to light years afterwards.How do we know for beyond any shadow of doubt that the condemmed person was really guilty? And those who kill for a cause should not be lumped with criminals who kill for some material end. Let us not lump Bhagat Singh with a vile murderer who murders for lust or money.There is a difference!

from:  taffazull
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 09:57 IST

All these years only so called human rights movements and the Amnesty international have been clamourng for the abolition of death penalty. now some newspapers have launched a campaign in support of abolishing the capital punishment. has anyone given any thought to the kin and families whose sole breadwinner's life was snuffed by the killers. what about the parents whose dear daughters were raped and killed in a brutal manner. who will console them. sympathy has been misplaced those who deserve full sympathy do not get it but only killers get full support from all quarters. this is grossly unjust. what would happen if the families of those who were killed, or raped and killed mobilise a movement calling for the continuance of death penalty. if you want to do away with death penalty then increase the number of years awarded as life time. Even clemency petitions should be examined carefully on a case by case study. hear the views of families whose breadwinners were killed.

from:  S Gururajan
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 09:49 IST

The first-hand account of an execution by George Orwell should teach us the value of ahimsa or nonviolence: not to return evil for evil, but to punish murderers without ourselves engaging in a premeditated homicide. It is interesting that the last words of the prisoner being hanged in Orwell's account, "Ram! Ram" were also the last words of Mahatma Gandhi upon being shot by an assassin -- an invocation of the Deity. This moving detail might remind us in a spirit of compassion and humility of our common humanity. While the spirit of Satyagraha ("holding to
truth," or
"truth-force") and Ahimsa "nonharm" or nonviolence)is a powerful reason for abolishing the death penalty in India and elsewhere, another way to view the same spiritual reality is the African concept of Ubuntu, or the relatedness of all human beings, whatever our crimes or follies. The concept of Ubuntu was central to the court decision abolishing the death penalty in South Africa shortly after the end of apartheid. Sadly, the world is confronted not only with the crimes of individual murderers and other offenders, but state-sponsored crimes of a kind tried by the recent International Tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia where thousands of innocents were murdered or "ethnically cleansed" from their homes and communities. Even in the face of such enormous crimes, we can affirm our common humanity by punishment, indeed punishing severely, but respecting the lives of even the worst criminals.

from:  Margo Schulter
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 04:23 IST

Dear Sir,
A painful description of an act does not justify the act's abortion. Imprisonment of a person might as well be described in a similar way.
Would the description justify abortion of jail system. Capital punishment is not a common occurrence in our country, and looks to be awarded in the appropriate circumstances. If unhindered, the disturbers of our social harmony might no more be afraid of committing the most heinous crimes. Other arguments like justice to the victim and his/ her family also stand.

Only because something is difficult or painful does not mean its wrong. We might as well give up learn ride bicycles, because its surely not easy !!

from:  Deep
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 04:20 IST

Think of it this way. In war, a soldiers duty is to kill enemy soldiers not because of the personal enmity but of the obligation undertaken by the soldier upon joining the army. Similarly its the obligation that we owe to the society and to the victims to execute people like Kasab (and his co-conspirators) who care not for our values. Personal judgements cannot come in the way of societal concerns. As an individual I may not want to harm a single person, but when I am responsible for my family or the entire nation, my thoughts cannot be the same. Unfortunately, India has been historically led by people who fail to understand this and as such, the entire country has been suffering since then. I think the above is one of the core teachings of the Gita, to which I personally would refer to were I to face a situation like this.

from:  ramesh
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 02:23 IST

I whole heartedly support The Hindu campaign for abolition of capital punishment.No where in the world capital punishment has any detterent effect on crime.To control crime, wholesome effort needs to be made, which include to build a society more egalitarian,inclusive, democratic and sensitive to the needs of all sections of society and not just the privileged ones!

from:  Chaman Lal
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 02:03 IST

I don't see a context in which the person was consigned to gallows. But, I will assume he was one of the freedom fighters against British Imperialism as this was a story narrated by Imperial Police. Is it The Hindu's subliminal message that these people like 3 Rajiv killers, Afzal, Kazab are freedom fighters like the one killed by Imperial police through hanging.

from:  Kalyan
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 02:03 IST

A hanging is surely justified in Rajiv Gandhi murder case. We have been paying the cost of being a "overly tolerant society", who ever wishes, >comes to our land, kills our people, spreads terrorism creating an environment of unsafe atmosphere. All the perpetrators of crime and violence deserve punishment for they were unable to keep their act in check.

from:  Rajiv
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 01:28 IST

I never expected The Hindu would publish this sort of articles. As many pointed out if abolition of capital punishment is resorted to, the crime would not only rise but there won't be any fear among the criminals. The killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did not aware of the consequences when they wanted to commit the offence? What happened to the family of Rajiv Gandhi later ? But for the boldness and courage of Madam Sonia Gandhi, the entire family would have fled to some other country. Despite problems, the family courageously continued in Politics but without family head althrough their lives. So also the other hard core terrorists would also be let free once the petitions before High Court are decided in favour of the three criminals because of the delay in deciding their clemency petitions by Her Excellency President.

from:  Sujana K
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 01:27 IST

“We all began laughing again. At that moment Francis's anecdote seemed extraordinarily funny. We all had a drink together, native and European alike, quite amicably. The dead man was a hundred yards away. ”
I think this is the reason we need to stop captial punishment. We all our humanity a little when we presume a “moral” ground to demand, even justify, killing a fellow being. How are we then different from the accused? Even if I accept the premise ‘eye for an eye’, can we kill the accused multiple times?
A terrorist has already agreed to gamble with his life. Will killing him stop another terrorist?
Past week, I saw Alcatraz, a high security prison. A life imprisonment at such a place seems to be a harsher punishment than the death penalty.

from:  Shruti Sinha
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 01:24 IST

In response to: K.A.Narayanan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:39 IST

State terrorism kills more innocent people and the politicians get away from responsibility.

I am in favour of capital punishment but it must be absolutely proven beyond any reasonable doubts under the Law of the land and not by special cases that are brought by politcians. Executing an innocent is not only cruel but also barbaric and inhuman. There are so many cases of miscarriage of justice all over the world.

Rajiv Gandhi was misled by his advisors and the IPKF also committed war crimes and killed innocent Tamils in Sri Lanka.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 01:24 IST

The theological view point of the uniqueness of every life compels me. Give a man a chance to repent at length in a prison. Treat him with compassion so that he has the oppurtunity to realise what he never did before the crime. Is that so stupid?

from:  Aiswarya Rao
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 00:42 IST

I am thoroughly against the Idea that a criminal be left to live his life, no matter how gruesome his crime is. He should be hanged. Don't go with western notions of clemency and have your own opinions and don't toe this foolish line. A statement says "He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself" but what if the person who seeks vengeance is a state like 'Most Indians' who wants to see Kasab hanged for his gruesome crime. Obviously the person who wrote the above statement wouldn't have thought such gruesome criminals can be manufactured in some countries. Had we left kasab, then some terrorist hijacks a plane and demands kasab's release in return for safety of passengers and what does the editor-in-chief of Hindu suggest in this case.

from:  Vamsi
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 00:32 IST

Capital punishment should stay in "rarest of rare" cases .This essay epitomizes the pain of prisoner before being hanged, but what about the pain of those who have been brutally raped/killed by them or the trauma the relatives of deceased go through for whole life . I can't understand why people are sympathizing with these terrorists who brutally cut short the life of PM of India in a pre-planned's basically a dirty political agenda by TN political parties to garner votes. Which life is more precious to us - a terrorist's/ rapist or a patriotic soldier who died fighting to safeguard fellow citizens from terrorists. If we sympathize with afzal guru / kasab then in a way we are disrespecting our martyr's who laid down their lives. Being civilized doesn't mean abolishing capital punishment but ensuring just punishment commensurate with the level of crime. What purpose it will serve by feeding these deep-rooted criminals throughout their life by taxpayers money.

from:  Alok k Gupta
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 00:23 IST

There is one more reason why the death sentence should be abolished. There were many cases in history that came to light and proved the accused NOT guilty on DNA evidence. In Many cases the accused already spent their prime between the four walls and many got excited without a retrial. The society is responsible for the suffering of such innocents who were convicted in wrong to begin with. The actual culprits must be still roaming among us. These should put us to shame.

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 00:19 IST

Death is freedom ..LIVING LIFE IS DIFFICULT w/no choice of lifestyle. However, providing 5 star facilities is Corruption.

from:  Sumana pathi
Posted on: Sep 1, 2011 at 00:16 IST

"He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself". I agree with you fully. you have summed it up correctly. When they killed Rajiv with vengeance they have already dug their own graves. Their graves are waiting for them for several long years. Now it is time for them to go.

from:  Shyam
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 23:45 IST

I am afraid that death penalty for only the 'rarest of rare' crimes results in justice only in the 'rarest of rare' instances

from:  R Shankar
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 23:43 IST

Capital punishment - is not the answer to 'any' crime. If so, there should be NO wars; NO fights on streets; NO killing of animals for momentary sense gratification. Land of Ahimsa, that we're. We must be ruled by moral rectitude, rather than mortal fear.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 23:35 IST

It is truly ironic that 'The Hindu' champions the cause of the criminal while touting its 'humaneness' and totally ignores or forgets the inhumanness of the crime and the criminal. The only revulsion I felt was at the Hindu's kid glove treatment of the vilest and most undeserving criminals who in the 'rarest of rare' cases invites the death penalty

from:  ravishankar
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 23:31 IST

I simply cannot understand this. A group of people plan and execute the killing of the leader of the country. It take us several years to complete all the judicial procedure and sentence is delivered. In the meantime accused get married inside prison and even have children. She will seek legal entry for her child to India. She will complete MCA in IGNOU university. What nonsense is this?
Please stop this madness now. All these people who are vouching for abolishing capital punishment please go to the other side and see things from Rahul & Priyanka Gandhi's perspective. See from the view when a nation lost a young leader. For goodness sake let sanity prevail and justice be delivered.

from:  Shyam
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 23:24 IST

Like death sentence blowing up a person into peices also a barbarian act.So barbarians should be punished like barbarians

from:  ahok
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 22:59 IST

These heartless ruthless killers forfeit their lives when they planned the attack. They have no right to a life they already decided to throw away. I don't understand why The Hindu is trying to tug at heartstrings portraying pictures of crying mothers and sisters of the convicts, and how some Tamil organizations are taking up their cause. Please run some of the historical footage of the shocked relatives of the victims when these terrorists chose to strike at innocent people.The Hindu's role need not be the role of a crusader for the cause of terrorists!! Please stop this foolish non-sense. What these culprits have done deserves the rarest of the rare!

from:  Haritha
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 22:50 IST

No doubt that a killer who takes away the life of not only the deceased but of the entire family has no right to live but certainly we are no one to make such decision.When we have not created something we have no right to destroy it.Replying to brutality in the same way is not the solution for some things should better lie in God's hands.

from:  Taruna
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 22:46 IST

I dont think capital punishment is given to take revenge on that man. I think it is implemented only to inculcate fear in others in doing those things. So, capital punishment is not a part of vengeance.

from:  Kanaka Rao
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 22:18 IST

Is this was the issue left to deal with in India that Hindu has taken up. With respect to the editor i disagree. Death penalty should be abolished only when our society is mature enough to do so and not because the editor of hindu does not agree with this practice. We are in a country where pregnant women are butchered and their bellies cut open during riots for the only reason that they belong to different religion. We are still not a mature enough to know the value of the vote. We need punishments which act as detterant. I remember after the dhananjoy chatterji was hanged, one person in one state surrendered before police due to fear of same punishment because he had also kidnapped a girl and had raped her. In this was one life was saved. People still fear "Phansi". We will great injustice if capital punishment is abolished.

from:  Vishal
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 22:18 IST

Killing an enemy soldier in battle should be even more barbaric act if Capital Punishment is an extreme sentence for Traitors, conspirators and betrayers of the Nation. Didn't we learn anything from 1000 years of slavery under Persian and British invasions ? Anyone who wages a war against the nation should be duly executed. We are in a world where kindness is perceived as weakness. There should be no leniency in the matters of State and the Capital Punishment should be the duly implemented.

from:  Uday Tamma
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 22:13 IST

Say NO to Capital punishment. Let us not be like the State of Texas in the United States. Be humane.

from:  Chandra
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 22:02 IST

If capital punishment for killers is justice for victims, then terrorism (aka capital punishment) is justice for terrorists (victims of society). Nobody is born a terrorist. It is the society that has made them.

from:  Nandini Raghavan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 21:41 IST

I strongly oppose the abolition of capital punishment. 1. The main argument this article seems to make against capital punishment is the emotional and perhaps moral horror experienced by a civilised person witnessing (or passively agreeing to) someone's execution. Well, why not then also ask the victims who lost their near and dear ones at the hands of the convict as to how they feel justice should be meted out. It should be agreed that justice should be objective and devoid of partisan emotions, for both the victims and the convict.
2. If deterrence is the sole objective of punishment, perhaps chopping the limbs off or brutal torture may be a bigger disincentive. That obviously is not an option in a 'civilised' society.3. There are other avoidable situations like wars where humans kill humans in the interest of justice and peace. It is plain hypocrisy to romanticise the so called 'destruction of a life in full-swing'.I can only agree on the point of avoiding delays.

from:  Harish Deshpande
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 21:35 IST

Strange and illogical to defend persons convicted of gravest crime of murdering the PM of a country, by strategic plan terrorism trained mode! Why show any mercy at all to folks who have NOT A TRACE of Humanism in themselves? Most disgusting depraved argument As a matter of fact, olden days mode of stoning them is also okay. They should suffer severely for their act; not be released from human form; should get them amputated and ask them to work hard and go thro life with great pain; that would teach a lesson to would be murderers in hiding; hanging would end life smooth; no punishment in pain to recall and cry in distress! Else all would like to kill their "enemies' and end their life peacefully eh !!

from:  Radhik Hairam
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 21:31 IST

It is easy to have an opinion when you are not victim or victim's relative. For all those people who prefer life imprisonment to capital punishment, would you still support it, if you were the victim or you lost your son or daughter as a result of brutality?

from:  Suresh Punuru
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 21:27 IST

Whilst I agree that all the three of them committed a heinous crime by assassinating Rajiv Gandhi, let me also remind that these individuals were shaped by our society. Until and unless we as society demonstrate virtue of compassion and mercy, this would be a never ending cycle. “A society starts degenerating not because of anti-social activities but because of the inactivity of the good beings”. I whole heartedly support The Hindu in its campaign to do away with the practices of the dark ages.

from:  Jeethu Mathew
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 21:24 IST

On the day Rajiv was killed many more(16) were killed along with him.We can even count Shubha the suicide bomber. These people killed so many by their actions. I feel there is no need for clemency here.

from:  B.s.Ahalya
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 21:19 IST

What is "justice" anyway? The vindictive eye for an eye? eye for an eye only makes the world go blind... What would be the point of putting the three "convicted criminals" to death? Return Rajiv Gandhi to life or 'teach potential criminals a lesson"? Centuries of Capitol Punishment has not deterred criminals.Can India with it's claim to Ahimsa live with this on it's questionable conscience?

from:  H Shasta
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 21:13 IST

I have read some people calling this death sentence as vengeance and that how can capital punishment be allowed in the land of Buddha, Mahavir and Gandhi I simply don't understand the logic. This death sentence may seem harsh to many but the truth is that when we punish somebody for her acts it is not only meant for that individual but it also works as an example for others so that such criminal acts do not occur in future. And it is here that I don't see any logic as to why these three men should not be given capital punishment. Tolerance and ahimsa are good and should be practised, but in today's world not everyone buys this theory. Tolerance is, on most occasions, considered as incapability and hence we must, from time to time, act in such ways that our theories of tolerance and ahimsa should never be considered as incapability. Hanging these guilty men along with Kasab and Afzal Guru is one such act.

from:  Pinkesh aryan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 21:11 IST

It was not right of the author not to mention for what this man was put to death for. may be the tragic tone of this story would have changed if mentioned.I still believe that death punishment should be implemented if it is deserving.

from:  T D Rajasekhar
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 21:02 IST

Sir: The bleeding hearts seem to bleed only for the criminals and not the victims. India needs Capital punishment and more of it in open and publicly. It is travesty of justice to delay these executions and prolong the trials for decades. A society of 1.2+billion cannot be expected to live harmoniouly unless there are serious consequences to individual's actions.

from:  PG
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:56 IST

As a doctor, I find the concept of capital punishment totally abhorrent. Whatever the crime, no one has a right to go back to "an eye for an eye......". There is such a lot of misery and suffering in this world anyway;and i cannot understand how such punishment would deter others from committing similar crimes.
In the U.K and other countries mistakes committed by lawyers, prosecutors and courts have resulted in the abolition of capital punishment.Congratulations to 'The Hindu' for championing the abolition of a macabre and primitive practice.

from:  Dr.R.Krishnan, kozhikode
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:55 IST

Capital punishment may be wrong in principle, but it cannot be looked at in isolation. Judiciary has to weigh it against the severity of the crime. All the justifications given to pardon the convict also applies to the victims. If the convict is a daughter to a mother, mother to a child then so were the victims, whose lives they cut short. The money spent on the upkeep of prisoners (on life imprisonment) is better spent on empowering the needy and poor. It is easy for a few people to sit on high moral chairs and decry capital punishment, but they should try to understand what it means for the victim’s family to know that their father/mother’s murderers are not paying for their crime.
This whole issue is being raked up for political mileage. Karunanidhi making a statement that “pardoning them will please the Tamils…” is utter nonsense. This thoughtless statement puts all the Tamils in bad light!

from:  Raj Singh
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:43 IST

Orwell at his acute best and good you published the piece to show yet another instance why law does not render justice nor mercy is fully informed with compassion . I had to witness at least one hanging as part of my training in the IAS ( to certify that death by hanging was completed)sent to Gaya jail .I can never forget the fright ,the sense of abandonment and hopeless hunted look in the hanged face .It took me along time to get over the trauma If all living beings have intrinsic value as most of us in India believe there is no place for the eye for eye argument preferred by imported utilitarian jurisprudence models.

from:  Raj Srinivasan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:39 IST

I don't understand what exactly the The Hindu wants to convey? No capital punishment for killers who planned and killed the PM of this country? Sorry,Editor, we will create more killers & terrorists in this country if we pardon them.

from:  K.A.Narayanan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:39 IST

'' Ahimsa Paramo Dharmaha '' is the noblest of all theories, only when it is put into practice universally.In this age of terrorism,when a hardly a couple of individuals from the front and a host from behind the scenes are capable of causing widespread death and destruction, this noblest theory requires suspension to meet the ends of justice.We, in India, respect laws of the land. But as long as death penalty is not legally abolished, common sense would tell as that no amount of graphic description of one's gait or state of mind, cries or moans or tears, just seconds or minutes before his final departure from the world forced upon him/ her by the long arms of justice, would undo the crime of snatching away the life of another defenseless individual or groups of individuals and be a ground to let him off the hook.

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:22 IST

@suhasini: The three convicts swore vengeance against Rajiv Gandhi, they killed him (their enemy), now it is their turn.

from:  Murtuza
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:16 IST

To all those vedantists who apeak for abolition of capital punishment, imagine your wife or child was killed by a man. He was tried and awarded death sentence. Will you still speak up against death penalty?

from:  Nammavan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:08 IST

I always read Hindu with an expected nutral stand, but in recent few weeks, I found a strange trend. Probably in order to create a balance in media view, Hindu has gone to another extreme. For example, Arundhati Roy wrote off Anna's campain or Hindu endorsing waste of public money in supporting a change of Legislative Hall to a hospital and now this. Laws are bound by time - you cannot enact a new law in past or you cannot relax a law in the past. These convicts have done one of the rare crimes - killed scores in a fraction of second - they deserve what they are getting. We already have a weak rule of law, it is worth not questioning the decisions already made by head of the state/Supreme court.

from:  piyush
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 20:02 IST

Very regrettable content from Hindu bordering on cheap whipping of emotions. I hold the view that 2 categories of offenders are unfit to live. one is the offenders against state. They fall under the same category of enemy soldiers and no need for hesitation is killing them. The second category is the offenders against children. Absolutely unfit to live in a civilised world. Political terrorism falls under the first category and they must be hanged.

from:  H. Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:57 IST

The Hindu stand on capital punishment is to be lauded. We are not ruled by a dictator or a mad men to allow execution like some of the countries in the middle east. The supreme court in India is literally out of touch with its outdated legal framework plaguing the country. Let us be more civilised on this subject.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:55 IST

When we talk about abolishing death penalty all we talk about is the feeling and emotions of the convict. what about the victim? .what about the fear , the pain inflicted on the innocent victim for no fault of his/her? what about their dreams, aspirations? are they of absolutely no value??lets not forget all murders does not get capital punishment. only the most cruel and gruesome once does. and if someone can inflict such horrendous cruelty to his/her fellow human being he /she losses the basic trait of a civilised human being and i believe its justified to take life of such a person.

from:  Lemter
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:42 IST

Irrespective of the crime committed we should recognise that capital punishment is barbaric. People who have committed grave crimes could be locked up indefinitely if the justice system determines that they continue to endanger public safety. I think it is time for India to adopt 21st century justice system.

from:  Naren
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:39 IST

Capital punishment as practised in India, is exercised for the rarest of the rare cases. Cold blooded murder of an ex-Prime Minister of the country due to the decisions he had taken while in office amounts to the rarest of the rarest cases - which warrants capital punishement by any thought dimension. We should bear in mind that whether one likes the Indian National Congress or not, whether one like Rajiv Gandhi or not, the case related to assasination of a head of state of India. If we take a forgiving stand at this point of time, we are making a statement that we are the weakest nation in history, who will take any damn insult lying down! It is absurd how the Tamil Nadu assembly can even think of considering forgiving the culprits and how a great Newspaper like Hindu can support such a campaign!

from:  Shone
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:39 IST

i just dont get it..the article is 'extra ordinary','wonderful'..i think the essay is modest..Orwell is sad abt his hanging..OK..What is the crime of that man??!!! i think the capital punishment should be applied for all the empty headed barbarians who take innocent lives...what is the purpose of punishment??? just to cause the convict to realise what he has done was wrong..not to do that in future..Also to lead them a moral and ethical life..i think those empty headed barbarians doesnt poesses that thinking capacity..Also the capital punishment is highly complicated and debatable..

from:  K Parthiban
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:36 IST

No Reason to take so much of language to describe the situation of hanging a murderer. I hope i have the same capacity with me to describe the innocence the people have with in them living and working with a sturggule to win bread for their loved ones, milk for their babies, buy medicines for their sick dependents, and suddenly broken apart into pieces by a bomb blast adjacent to them on the street, on the train, in a railway station, in a hospital, in a temple, in a hotel.Its a pity the article is published with a very un timely reference. Its better the money spent on jails and security be utilized for a social cause.
After 9/11 not single major incident happenned in US because they can go over a country to defend them.We were arguing among overselves to punish or not a proven criminals.

from:  Subba Rao
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:33 IST

nothing from THE HINDU'S everyday writing hands but still shows the hard work rooted in their body (efforts made to publish this editorial-part and make india's citizens to read this article)thaks for this.'to be hang' convicts can't think of ram!ram!ram!ram! before they does such acts and living a happy life, giving a bit of happiness to their children, wife, and the birth giving parents. giving life imprisonment rather hanging is not less than a moral decision and better than the other.amid giving justice their should be some human feelings.rajeev's assailants were in prison and the file giving them the final judgement was in the president's ofice for 11 years and now proceeding with an irrational decision giving no mercy petition is totally unreasonable.if all goes without any change in the judgement what about the imprisonment of 11 years which these convicts have passed in the prison?.this stay should go long like the lakhs of cases pending in india's courts.

from:  deep
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:27 IST

I didn't have time to read this article, but I strongly believe, a criminal should be punished irrespective of his/her current state of mind. Cause and Effect theory is natural.

from:  Vairavan Sockalingam
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:24 IST

While capital punishment is inhuman, the acts of violence for which this punishment has been given are barbaric too.To ask for clemency is one thing but to claim that the 3 convited persons are innocent is preposterous.While the campaign by "The Hindu" is well appreciated citing the inhuman nature of this punishment, a lot of support for abolition of punishment for these 3 convicts stems from their Tamil separatist agenda which somehow seems to have struck a chord with the people agitating on the street.Moreoever, there does not seem to be any element of remorse. The question which arises is as to how one reconciles to the feeling of sectarianism and how the society manages to pardon these 3 people without seeming to have compromised on the spirit of nationalism.The question posed by Omar Abdullah is a brave one because if the 3 are pardoned, a similar yard stick would be demanded for the ilk of Afzal guru and Ajmal kasab.

from:  krishnan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:22 IST

A Roman said, by killing a criminal, you kill him only once. But for someone who has committed such a heinous crime, the best punishment would be to kill him, a thousand times! That is possible only by letting him to live and make him miserably feel the pain of his crime the rest of his life!

from:  Samdrup
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 19:12 IST

we are living in the world where human rights are hailed. in spite of the that we do lose the lives by giving the capital punishment.Life is so precious, irrecoverable. once a person is a given capital punishment he/ she is half dead. the words in the article said "our friend (he meant the dead man), when he heard his appeal had been dismissed, he pissed on the floor of his cell. From fright." The agony the person undergoes is never be thought. The capital punishment should be abolished from the world. hanging should be hanged. right to life should be assured. No one shall be die of capital punishment. The punishment is for the good of the person, not for the extreme of death.

from:  Arivarasu
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 18:53 IST

The campaign by The Hindu against the barbaric ,inhuman practices of punishing a convict of the ilk "hanging" are merit praise.This initiative of your's definately exalts your cult in the minds and hearts of the billion people. Did harsh punishments,any time in the past helped in preventing the crime? I guess never. Here i am not saying the convicts should not be punished but there are many human ways of doing that. The honorable supreme court and honorable President should consider the fact that around the world there are circa 100 countries in which this inhumane practice is outdated .So let us abide to "Non-voilance" preachings by our forebears .

from:  Patil
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 18:52 IST

I am clearly confused on my take on capital punishment as a policy in India. While it sounds noble to say it is inhuman, is there a better way of punishing those who mercilessly take innocent peoples' lives? Kasab being the best example. What about the hundreds of innocent people whose lives were taken for no fault of theirs? Why should Government of India waste its resources in providing security for someone like him? Is there any logical answer to any of this?

from:  Aishwarya R
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 18:48 IST

The lesson to be learnt from this essay is that the decision on mercy petitions should be expedited. It should not take 11 years to decide a mercy petition one way or the other. In case of rejection of a mercy petition, the "end" should be administered swiftly in a painless manner to the condemned victim.

from:  KS Raghunathan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 18:46 IST

Arthur Koestler wrote a book Reflections on Hanging when he was sentenced to death and was confined to in a Spanish prison.He wrote of his memories awaiting the death sentence.It went on to become a major influential publication which ultimately resulted in the abolition of capital punishment in the UK. Selected reproduction from this book would go a long way to abolish capital punishment except in the rarest of rare cases.

from:  H.N.Ramakrishna
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 18:42 IST

The Hindu has taken a progressive stance on the death penalty. Vengeance is not the same as justice. The saying "He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself", sums it up.

from:  suhasini
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 18:40 IST

An eye for an eye will only make the world blind. Enough of executions. Please let there be mercy. Punishment didn't change the world. Let's try something new.

from:  koushik nandi
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 18:31 IST

India has already helped killing the so called main culprit - the LTTE Chief along with so many innocent people as a revange for murdering Rajiv Gandhi. According to his articles, Dr. Subramanian Swamy is still trying to establish as to who is behind the planned killing of Rajiv Gandhi. Here, the three men have already served their life sentence (more than 20 years) in jail. May the Justice and Lawyers find some ways to stop hanging these men.

from:  Gnanam
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 18:17 IST

...simply superb....brilliantly potrays the universal religion....the religion of humanity. The manner in which we humans try to supress the guilty subconscience(on taking a human life), by laughing aloud and cracking jokes has been vividly discribed. Something to think about. Keep up the good work.

from:  parishrut
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:51 IST

Is it that thing what we are doing is right to kill a person against his destiny or is that capital punishment he is destined to be? but however i personally feel capital punishment should be in place to have a fear in those who are changing the destinies of innocent people ....further execution of those 3 killers of rajiv gandhi should be done immediately and no mercy must be entertained in such cases...

Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:51 IST

the essay is well written but...the point is what is the alternative detterent for the punishment of the heinous crimes these people commit. i don't agree to the hindu campaign pandering to the tamil pride. when a person has brutally killed our primeminister, there should be no ambiguity regarding the punishment he should get. people against the death penulty, should answer whether the state should spend taxpayers money to feed man like kasab who has blatantly murdered so many indians in the terrorist attack. keeping them is a security risk for the whole country. what is the message we are sending the terrorists?? of course, the capital punishment sould be given to the rarest of the rare cases and for that our judciary is fully competent to decide. once the sentence is given, there should be a time limit within which the clemency petitions should be disposed off and sentence carried off. the whole mess is created by political considerations by a few playing votebank politics.

from:  manoj jain
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:47 IST

Really, I do not know why THE HINDU is publishing this essay. And for what purpose? We have a justice-delivery system where capital punishment to be given in rarest of rare cases. We can leave the matter to be discussed in depth by all those concerned with it, instead of discussing it at a literary level.

from:  G.Naryanaswamy
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:36 IST

The story is a heart touching one, clearly picturizes the scene on behalf of the one who is hanged. But it's a shame for us to use the people's tax for the health of those who killed Rajiv Gandhi. What has happened of Ajmal Kasab and like will be a boost for the anti-social elements as they are now sure that they are safe even when they are caught. Remember the Kandahar incident where we surrendered our pride to some terror groups. We should make our laws more severe than to make it liberal.

from:  Aravind K R
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:28 IST

The purpose of punishing the criminal is not solely to deter others from committing the crime but also to hand out justice to the affected party. I am all for capital punishment in the rarest of rare cases. The Rajiv Gandhi's assassination falls under that category, so also the gruesome act committed by Ajmal Kasab (he should have been hanged by now by conducting a summary trial against him, for which, sadly enough, there is no provision in the IPC at present). That the convicts under question had to go through avoidable mental agony by way of inexplicable delay in disposing off of their mercy petitions is a different matter altogether. The delay points to the flawed working of the procedure in the matter, which needs to be rectified on urgent basis. The present stay on the execution by the high court is perhaps a step in that direction. I hope the events to follow as an aftermath to this stay would not alter the judgement on execution; of course, unless and until God wills it so.

from:  Murtuza
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:27 IST

George Orwell's description of the entire episode makes an interesting and spell-binding reading. However, the issue at large viz. capital punishment is more one of an event-based decision. As some readers have observed, one really wonders whether several criminals will continue to perpetrate these macabre acts, just because there is no capital punishment, should there be total abolition. Is life imprisonment and confining one to spend a life time away from the dear ones (if any) less of a punishment than death? In my opinion, it is equally punitive and also provides the opportunity to the person in question to reform oneself, while the intention is not to sound romantic. If capital punishment is the solution for setting right the evils of the society, it is nothing short of 'organized crime'. There is perhaps need for deciding really what amounts to 'rarest of the rare' cases - like killing a child brutally for ransom; and the like.

from:  Jawaharlal Upamaka
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:22 IST

A Terrorist kills people. The government kills the terrorist. Now what is the difference among the two? Death penalty is just state sponsored terrorism. Is it possible to stop terrorism by frightening people with punishment? Somebody who becomes a terrorist is already ready to give up his life. How would death penalty prevent him from committing the act?

from:  Koushik
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:22 IST

I salute 'The Hindu' for its consistent stand against capital punishment, in spite of the many dissident voices that are supporting the killing of the three lives. I read with tear-filled eyes the words "You will scarcely credit, sir, that it took six warders to dislodge him, three pulling at each leg. We reasoned with him. “My dear fellow," we said, "think of all the pain and trouble you are causing to us!". But no, he would not listen! Ach, he wass very troublesome!'This was about a thinking, feeling, crying, laughing, speaking human being they are talking about and not about a hen or a goat that resists itself in its slaughter. Another interesting point I note in the comments is that most of those who support capital punishment, do not hold Gandhi or Buddha in high esteem.

from:  Gregory Basker
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:17 IST

Capital punishment has no place in modern India and should be abolished. It would be better if a murderer is sentenced to prison as long as he lives. That would deter others even more. There are good things happening in India notably the fight against corruption. Hopefully, no one will ever be sent to the gallows in India anymore.

from:  Maj Pankaj Rai
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:16 IST

An extraordinary piece, 'A Hanging'' by George Orwell has been reproduced! What a pathetic scenes and rediculous behaviours of jail staff , described in the story while hanging the man, who utterred ram, ram ram at the final call of his death? Alas, he was an Indian! We must clear our conscience and launch intensive campaign to abolish capital punishment once for all from India. Nobody is sure, even hard evidences, the judges, pronouncers of judgements in most of the cases, that the man ,who has been awarded capital punishment is realy deserve the punishment-Of all why this death sentences? There is saying of a great scholar, 'thousand of criminals should be let off , but not even a single innocent should be hanged'. A man , who has been awarded death sentence, may be innocent, than why this death to the man? I deeply share the campaign of the Hindu on abolition of capital punishment once for all in India!

from:  krishn kumar singh
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:14 IST

India has enough dreaded criminals and despite the jail term and existing punishment system, the crimes tend to grow. Capital punishment though barbaric in nature is given to selected few for 'rarest of the rare' crime. Hence, capital punishment shall be allowed to remain for such rare crime as a deterrent measure which shall safeguard the society we live in. The execution of the three killers of Late Prime minister shall not be further delayed since such delay is in violition of the spirit of human rights. Let them be executed soon for the rare crime they have committed. Further, the issue of relevance of capital punishment and the debate associated with it may continue in future.

from:  Bharat
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 17:09 IST

Sir, I wonder why the media and several other groups who relentlessly campaign for the abolition of capital punishment seldom come out against the ongoing crime of abortion where nascent and innocent lives are brutally destroyed, denying them even the right to be born. How can one advocate the commutation of a death sentence or reprieve for a criminal and at the same time overlook the annihilation of the innocents? When the wombs become tombs, how can we deem ourselves civilized? I think the only ones who ought to have a say in this debate are the victims or their relatives - in Rajiv Gandhi murder case, his wife Sonia and children. The rest of us who have had nothing to lose would do well to keep quiet.

from:  Roychan Joy
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 16:40 IST

It is a shame that some can ask for mercy for brutal murderers of Rajiv Gandhi and so many innocent people. To allow perpetrators of such heinous crimes live is a sign of weakness. People talk about Gandhi and Buddha. They forget that this country of Gandhi and Buddha was a slave and plundered by attackers because it was too weak and too forgiving in punishing its enemies. This is also a land of Mauryas, Rajputs, Marathas and Sikhs. We are non aggressive. It doesn't mean that we a bunch of cowards who will let enemy of the state live. And spending crores of rupees on security of these prisoners, in a country, where majority of people don't have meals of 2 times, is a big joke to the masses.

from:  Umesh
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 16:14 IST

The Hindu has voted on the side of humanity and civilization.

from:  Tara
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 16:12 IST

Thank you HINDU for the consistent stand for decades that, regardless of person, place, and circumstance, India must abolish capital punishment. I am sure The Hindu can exert influence on million of people in India to fight legally and peacefully against the death penalty. Reading 'A HANGING' written by George Orwell shows the inhumanity of the death penalty. The abolition of the death penalty should happen as soon as possible in India. Globally, an increasing number of countries are tending towards abolition of the death penalty and India shall belong to these countries. Liberal constitutions, an independent judiciary, stable and working democratic institutions, an independent press, freedeom of the media and speech, liberal constitutional rights and a secular nation help citizens to life in dignity and freedom and they are protected by a criminal law that does not contain the death sentence. Applying the criminal law in the right way has always shown that murderers were sentenced to long imprisonment. Every death penalty carried out is a danger for democracy and we as citizens shall defend our liberal rights.

from:  Kurt Waschnig Oldenburg Germany
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 16:07 IST

At a time when 'The Hindu' has started with right earnest its crusade against capital punishment and apropos the essay, 'A hanging' by George Orwell, I am reminded of the following. It was 24th March, 1979 the day when the Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed the appeal petition filed by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, former President of Pakistan, against his death sentence, despite appeals from many heads of state for clemency. Having known of the evil designs of Zia ul Hug, the then President of Pakistan, people of the entire world went into an unexplainable shock and agony. Though Bhutto's animosity against our nation was well pronounced, India was not an exception to the above anguish and sadness. True to expectations, Zia also upheld the death sentence of Bhutto. My father, a staunch nationalist and a septuagenarian at that time and a strong votary against Capital punishment had been following the entire proceedings of the case of Bhutto with all anxiety and went into serious depression the moment he heard of the verdict. I still remember how he wished and longed for a miracle to happen to save Bhutto from going to the gallows. The 12 days from 24th March to 4th April, 1979 proved to be days of real agony for him and his painful reaction to the news that Bhutto had been hanged in the early hours of 4th April is still ringing in my years. Quote: "Even with the advent of hundreds of Gandhis in future, the inhuman man would never become compassionate to do away with the barbaric practice of murdering his fellowmen in the name of his hypocritical laws!" He remains a prophet even after three decades of his demise!Isn't he?

from:  Tharcius S.Fernando
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 15:54 IST

Capital punishment is not a solution to any evil in the society. It is a kind of Talibanism by a country again few individuals. The person convicted might have changed his ideology long back. I don't think it is a deterrent for suicide squad as well, since they willfully embrace death.

from:  siva
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 15:48 IST

We are proud to be readers of the Hindu for it initiates a campaign to cease the capital punishment in this country wherein scores of relegions and movement originated with almost all of them kept ahimsa and forgiveness as their very fabrics. For those still argue for such stone age barbaric practice as deterrent for society to refrain from involving grave crimes, I wish more article from media is needed to educate and propogate the concept that isolating a person from society and put him in a solitary confinement for his entire life is a saddest thing for a living being. Only people with modern attire and style of living with uncivilized thoughts would forage for the thirst of blood and advocate capital punishment.

from:  vsk
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 15:42 IST

Spare the rod and spoil the child. Today's society has a number of nefarious elements sponsored by polity and mafia who care two hoots about kindness and compassion. Did Rajiv's killers think about the innocents who will die along with Rajiv? No. Has somebody thought about the costs of maintaining terrorists in Jails..with all the food, shelter, clothing, medicine for a decade or two? Don't we all know the ground realities of how many of these terrorists escape from jails only to continue perpetrate horror on multitudes? With all this talk I am hearing about India being land of Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, this same land also had Rama who killed Ravana and Vali. Krishna killed so many people too including Sishupal. So everywhere in History death was awarded when situations demanded. The right to corporate punishment should be left to courts. The judges should be left to decide in their wisdom if the case deems the extreme merit of death penalty.

from:  Nikhil
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 15:30 IST

The editorial board of The Hindu is harnassing support for the campaign against capital punishment by publishing litrary master peice like this one. Capital punishment is the most merciful punishment given the state of the prison and the people who populate it. The issue has come to light because of the three condemned murderers waiting for the noose. Their crime was not one of passion and anger but one of cold blooded planning and execution. When they detonated the device which killed among others the ex Prime Minister of the country, children became orphans, young brides lost their husbands, parents lost their children and a generation lost faith in their fellow human beings. Drug peddlers, illicit liquor vendors and other merchants of death should be fed the very substance they peddle to deter others from entering the trade. By the same token the three deserve no mercy and the delay in the decision would have given them the time to introspect.

from:  Mani Sandilya
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 15:27 IST

Was your effort to present a piece from 'A Hanging' an attempt to address the inadequacy in your previous article on 'abolishing capital punishment'? Moreover when your present a close description of the last few moments of the person being hanged, it is bound to drench hearts with sympathies;But when you do so, you miss the bigger picture, you fail to account for the miseries inflicted by those convicts on others. what about life-long cries of mothers who lost thier kids, wives who lost their husband and several other uncountable adversaries inflicted by the self righteounes of a wrong doer? I believe presenting a partial view will never help convince readers.Human conviction is based upon logical thinking,so the day you think you can present both sides of the story and prove that the side you are endrosing is better then go on write it on!!

from:  Anurag Nandan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 15:19 IST

This is a brilliant essay and was published in 1931 and we find ourselves in 2011 discussing about whether or not to abolish Capital Punishment (I would rather call it Human Sacrifice, because that is what this is, a living being(s) has to be sacrificed to deliver justice to a horrible act). The very fact that we still have not gotten rid of this terrible justice delivery system, shows how little we have matured as a society, in this particular matter, at least. We should have done this long back, human sacrifices carried out over the years, should not have been carried out. We must end human sacrifices NOW, otherwise, the future generations to come, will not feel proud about us. I deny the argument this makes us soft. It has nothing to do with us not being strong or courageous it only makes more moral beings.

from:  Prakash
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 15:17 IST

I am not a votary of capital punishment. I however, question the motives of The Hindu in publishing this classic essay now and not on the eve of the many hangings that take place around the country.The Hindu, is merely pandering to the sensibilities of politicians of Tamil Nadu. In order to convince the electorate that they are indeed defenders of the Tamil people, the politicians of Tamil Nadu, choose to be cynical apologists for all that is done in the name of liberating tamil eelam, including as in this case the murder of a former prime minister of India. That the Hindu chose to provide an intellectual fig leaf for this craven act of political opportunism, indicates, how much the standards of journalism have fallen or perhaps how illusory the freedom of press really is in India.

from:  Lakshmanan Krishnamurti
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 14:54 IST

I felt sorry that we have not yet changed.Let us hope that better sense will prevail and death sentence is abolished once for all.

from:  K.Balu.
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 14:52 IST

Great Narration. THE HINDU has taken time bring a story to count and reproduce the seconds before the death of prisoner. The story talks about the state of a healthy man. He was lucky enough to be told in a story atleast! In other cases, Is is Possible to narrate the torture?. It would only be fair if THE HINDU does the same towards a child (who was tortured,raped and murdered), towards a mother (who lost herself and her child in her womb due to merciless shooting by terrorists), towards a common man(who was killed mercilessly).I believe all of these victims were healthy as well. They all definitely had a dream and life to live for. What does 'The Hindu' say about this ? 'The Hindu' is championing this movement to abolish the capital punishment. It is a great contribution. On the other hand, it must also champion various movements to look into the root causes of terrorism,murder,rape,crime etc., It must also look into rehabilitation of prisoners.

Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 14:40 IST

Sir, Why do you think that capital punishment should be abolished? I think India has not reached the kind of peaceful existence where capital punishment becomes redundant. In India of today, capital punishment still has its place for crimes of utmost cruelty, attacks on humanity etc. It, to some extent, serves as a deterrent against such capital offences. Yes, I do agree that it is a very painful thing to award death to someone. But, for a society to grow in civilization, such punishments are required for some time. With India in such turmoil as it finds itself today, it is still an option.

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 14:30 IST

The article is good to read. Is it relevant in the current context?. To pity a man who doesn't understand the value of it is a disgarce. What are we expecting from these culprits to achieve in their life for the betterment of our country when they were all involved in a barbaric act. A good reasoning mind or a campaign should not be the base to justify the wrong doing of any person in the society. If we contiue to support all such evil doers , we will have our society completely filled up with criminals in a short time. If I can do a crime and still enjoy the life , why do I need to conduct myself in good manners?. If our childern's start adopting this attitude, just think what would be the result?. By words and by articles we can say anything we like, But the Integrity of the Nation can be kept only by deterring the wrong doings and this needs action which is the punishment and hence the same is justified. Few years back it was someone's family,tomorrow it could be ours.

from:  Shivashankar
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 14:30 IST

Do you know what is the term for 'life imprisonment' in India(14 to 20 years only) and countries which has banned 'capital punishment'?Please verify the facts and if you are ture to your opinion to ban 'capital punishment', then atleast raise your voice to increae the term for life imprisonment in India.And also do something which aids changing the mind set of those punished and in Jail.Simply 'raising the voice' for Banning something is very easy, but working for something is very difficult..

from:  vinod
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 14:21 IST

I can think of one possibility which can answer the question posed by Arvind Singh where he points out 'Shaven Head' and then 'the lock of hair'. This could be the way a lot of hindus have kept their hair style - like the scholars in ashrams where the head is shaved keeping the locks in the centre intact which develop into a tail like structure. Secondly, I have always felt that the capital punishment should be avoided but when I am insulted I want to return it severely. I think the same must be true for everybody else. If one of my family members is mortally harmed by somebody, I in all possibility would like to return the favors eliminating his whole clan. It is to be noted that this is what I feel internally and may not be able to execute due to fear or sheer lack of resources to do it. I guess it is not wise to comment when you are unhurt.It is from pain and suffering that you realize your true self.I am unhurt and thus, I do not know myself. I might behave differently in reality.

from:  Shailesh Kumar
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 14:15 IST

Sir, 94 countries have already abolished capital punishment but we are 138th country in the Human Development Index. so, it should take some more time to abolish this ultimate punishment.

from:  Tripati Panda
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 14:11 IST

I think the article, and comments open up the moral dilemma, this is. It is conceivable that future or current technological solutions to 'pull-the-lever' already exist, or may be found; but the moral question remains - what does it say about us as a society, that supports captial punishment? It is however reasonable to expect the Supreme Court of India, and its advocacy of capital punishment for 'rarest of rare' cases, hoped to ensure a traditional view of causality; that crime should be followed by punishment. If the current argument is to not do away with punishment, but only replace it with something which eliminates the guilt of the many - we are probably at a new place in jurisprudence. A reductionistic view of universe would probably not involve justice as we know it in our human civilization; the only laws would be those of nature - Physics. Most of judicial laws and justice are perhaps formed by our faith in causality, and our values as a society; how do we preserve both?

from:  Muthu
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 13:58 IST

Agreed, Capital Punishment should be abolished. Although only after increasing punishment to imprison the convicts. Era of human clan killing the person of bad moral is over. An eye for an eye is barbaric. Currently there are two personal bill are on table related to capital punishment in Loksabha for current session. 1 raised by Sushma swaraj suggesting capital punishment for Rapist. And 1 raised by PRADEEP TAMTA for removal of Capital Punishment from Penal code. >Following is part of Pradeep Tamta's bill. "Someone who has committed the most brutal and heinous crime should not be treated as a person to be done away with. A civilized society should have an attitude of compassion, sympathy and rectification towards these criminals. Even a hardened criminal would think and rethink when the society helps him to change and allows him to live and work with them. A life sentence is sufficient for a person to repent and change his ways to become a good citizen again."

from:  Vikas Shah
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 13:40 IST

No doubt, here we debate more rather than reaching to the conclusion. Well, one should know that how much money govt is spending to protect Kasab and guru, and threat to the country if the escape or remain in jail (remember Kandahar flight hijack) . We keep on adding all these guys to the list then we are gone. It is more important to improve the economic status of the poor for which another set of reforms is required. If that takes place then society won't produce people who do not know value of life. Seems to be contracting my own views but not actually, we need to hang criminals whether they killed common man or prime minister, because it is like allowing more to do the same crime. At the same time I wish that educating and improving the lives of poor people will help us in not coming across these situations frequently. I wish Hindu will campaign for the second set of reforms that are supposed to be implemented in 1993 and are due till today, rather than working on abolition capital punishment.

from:  Ramaiah Karumudi
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 13:39 IST

Being civilized and killing don't go together. Killing is no justice for any crime. Found few remarks here funny - "We should ask the victim if they would feel justice would be meted out to them if we don't hang them" - come on folks, in which law we have victim deciding the punishment to an accused?

from:  Ramesh Raj
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 13:36 IST

Important question to ask here is "What will deliver justice to a victim?" Do those insisting on capital punishment believe that the justice will be delivered only when the accused is killed? Are we the citizens of the country preaching Ahimsa?? Do Gandhi's children believe only in "eye for eye", 'Blood for Blood', 'Life for Life' as the only way to establish justice? Saint Ramalinga Adigalaar said he was pained to see withering grass - let alone suffering human beings. Ashamed to call ourselves a civilized society. BIG THANKS to The Hindu for bringing out this pertinent essay. Hope this opens the eyes of those ignorant souls shouting for justice by killing. If we respect the life of the victim and consider that to be so supreme, then the best way to make the criminal realize it is by respecting his life too and at the same time making him repent and not enjoy till he dies.

from:  Vivek Ram
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 13:27 IST

If we don't hang terrorists we will be regarded as a soft state.

from:  Rohit
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 13:14 IST

Thanks to The Hindu for reprinting an outstanding short story by George Orwell. But, before supporting the abrogation of capital punishment, please think of the destroyed lives of innocent people by these cold-blooded criminals. As far as I am concerned, Capital Punishment should be there for 'Rarest of rare cases', but that should be executed immediately after the verdict. Don't make it inhuman by procrastination, as happened in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

from:  Jinil C Sasidharan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 13:13 IST

Thanks to The Hindu for publishing this essay. The words, the language and the narrative of George Orwell is great and without any unwanted sexual / erotic references which most mordern days writers are addicted to. Even the same scene as in this essay would have been written with unwarranted narratives had it been a modern day indian writer. And let us sincerely hope this piece of essay and other publications from The Hindu on this subject would help to stop the practice of hanging as punishment completely from our country.

from:  vijayan.A
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:56 IST

Sir, with all due regards, it is not a very reasonable thought to abolish capital punishment. First and foremost, one who commits the act of murdering another of the same species, has no claim to be a part of the human clan. This is the essence of civilization. We live in a 'civilized' environment. If elements who break this are not eliminated, the evil will just manifest. Secondly, by granting pardon to wrong doers, the rest of the society is not only projecting itself as soft and incapable of keeping crime under check but in a way is abetting it. If civilians are arrested and probed for lynching criminals, then those who kill average citizens need to be made examples of. Otherwise,as the saying goes, one rotten apple can actually destroy the entire basket. We definitely do not want that. Imagine this, general citizens raged over the current state of affairs in the country taking matters in their own hands, because the maximum they fear is some years of imprisonment,desirable?

from:  Rajarshi
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:50 IST

"It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man" That's just the point for all of us isn't it? We can pretend as long as we are not, like Orwell, confronted face to face with the absolute truth that capital punishment means taking a life. Even if we preach justice, none of us want to be the one who pulls the lever because we know that it is indeed murder. And what goal does it achieve anyway? We have learned over the years that it has not deterred criminals or idealists. The solution to the problem of what do we do with men/women who cannot function as members of society requires a better answer than lets just get rid of them. If we claim to part of civilised society, then it is up to us to find a solution to this question, not hide from it.

from:  Chinchu Ann Belarmin
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:49 IST

At one end is: If they slap you on your cheek, show the other cheek. Which is very impractical. At the other end is: Give back equal treatment/punishment. Which is inhuman. The practical middle ground would be: 1. Everything should be done to protect ourselves by dodging/ blocking/ resisting/ disabling the person; 2. Ensure that the person cannot hurt anybody ever in the future; 3. Investiage the circumstances of the crime and see what can be done so that such instances do not occur to others. Capital punishment only debases us.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:42 IST

The essay is so touching. The one thing which made me laugh on reading this essay is after reading that first it was 'the shaven head' and finally at the climax of his life 'the lock of hair'. Does it take that much of time (months together) to hang a person. Anyway I am not voting for the abolition of the CAPITAL PUNISHMENT because its not a punishment which is given for some small misbehaves. It is generally given for those who killed someone brutally, that too after a conspiracy. Even if this is not punished with the death sentence and if they are provided life sentence with three meals a day in jail I don't think people will fear to kill others.

from:  N.Nandhakumar
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:39 IST

Thanks for the publication of the above said article. In a universe where a mankind is flourshing a death penality for a Convict who had committed the crime doesn't serve any purpose. After all a human being killing another fellow human with capital punishment. No one has got right to kill any being that exists in this world and which has got the equal right to live on. A Criminals who are indulged in such practices needs to be kept in bars till their life ends with out proper aminites. This would make them to realise the mistake they did to the society and to the persons family who they killed. A mere captical punishment doesn't make any sense, but leading the humanity in a wrong path with the name of judicary. Abolition of death penality in a county like India which stands for Non-Violence and which belives on the motto 'Satyameva Jayathe' makes a great meaning to it's people and to the mankind.This would mark a new era with the ideals and standards dreamt by Gandhi the father of INDIA.

from:  Akil Reddy
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:35 IST

If the system in the country cannot deliver justice to the victims then citizen may have no other way but to take law in their own hands when heinous crimes are done. Imprisonment is not enough because we know that in poltical crimes the perpetarators enjoying five star facilities at the cost of nation.A nation that locks up Bin Laden is five times at risk than the one which kills him. Nobody has forgot the exchange of criminals in Kandahar and it coming back in the form of 26/11 Bombay attack.If capital punishment is abolished what surety is that Kasab is not exchanged or freed in a changed political climate? After getting clemency Nalini is pleading for remission.Do you call that justice done?

from:  Arun
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:35 IST

A brilliant article. I appreciate your cause 'Abolishing Capital Punishment', but i don't support you. Capital Punishment has to be given to people who are convicted of carrying out heinous crimes, whether they are normal people or terrorists and normal people who help the terrorist.

from:  Jayanth Iyer
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:33 IST

capital punishment or life imprisonment. which way to go!! If one wants to be sympathetic to the criminal, it is better to set him free. That way we can follow the principles of ahimsa, but at the expense of disorderliness in the society.Is hanging a criminal an uncivilized act and sending a culprit for life imprisonment a civilized act? Ethics and morals are situational dependent and change with time and so does our principles.
These three criminals are adults who were well aware of the consequences of committing such heinous crime according to our constitution, but they chose to stick to their principles. Se as a society should stick to the constitution. Slow proceedings in the court does not justify to reduce the capital punishment to imprisonment. It is better for them to leave this planet.

from:  buc
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:30 IST

I thank and appreciate 'The Hindu' for having an open discussion on the abolition of Capital punishment. The death penalty has been abolished in all civilized part of the world except in the United States, where it is being strong debated, and not there in some states of the union. As a land of the 'Mahatma' and non-violence struggle, it is only appropriate that we have an open and democratic civil talk about the appropriateness and relevance of the death penalty, when we know that there are lots of innocent people who are put to death.

from:  Srikanth
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:23 IST

I am not sure if THE HINDU published the abridged version of Animal Farm, by the same author when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975. What I do remember was that only two Indian English dailies had the courage to raise their voice on the indiscriminate arrests and execution (Rajan of REC Calicut) at that time.THE HINDU was not among them.

from:  P.R.IYER
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:20 IST

Thanks to The Hindu for reprinting the essay 'A Hanging' by George Orwell. So long as people indulge in brutal crimes, there should be exemplary punishment for the same. It could be Capital Punishment, Rigorous Imprisonment for Life (no question of coming out of jail till death, solitary confinement and no parole to be given). The inordinate delay that takes place in India between the judgment and confirmation of the sentence or granting of clemency by the President of India needs to be corrected. A strict time-frame should be set for this purpose. Needless to say, in the absence of speedy justice and exemplary punishment, people would continue to commit brutal crimes. Acts of Terrorism needs to be looked at from a different angle and severe punishments given within the shortest possible time. Terrorists do not deserve 'Mercy' because they knew very well what they were doing and they also enjoyed doing it. Terrorists should not be shown any 'Mercy' whatsoever.

from:  Kannan Raju
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:19 IST

Orwell's narrative should serve as an eye opener to all who still advovate for the continuation of the barbaric Capital punishment.A honest reading of the inset anecdote of the dog in the main story reveals the aspiration of even the animals to do away with this most inhuman act.If only the humans who assembled that day to see the prisoner gruesomely hanged till he died were able to understand what the Airedale had barked in loud, prior to and after the hanging, "Oh you humans,nay inhumans,good I am born a dog.Or otherwise you would have rushed to hang me too, even at the fall of the hat!", by now the misery-filled act of Capital punishment would have become history!

from:  Tharcius S.Fernando
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:17 IST

Some time back, a security guard of a residential complex in Kolkata raped and murdered a young girl of that complex and was ultimately executed by hanging. At a group discussion soon after, a well known social activist was furiously arguing against what she termed as a travesty of justice by hanging the culprit and ranted vociferously against the death penalty. I then asked her what she would do if a criminal raped and murdered her own daughter preferably in her presence - would she protect the culprit from capital punishment? Her response was stony silence accompanied by a dirty look at me. The point I am trying to make is, when some one else is the victim we cry ourselves hoarse about eliminating capital punishment but sing a different tune when the victim is a member of our own kith and kin! The Hindu should ask the relatives of Afzal Guru's and Ajmal Kasab's victims what should be done with these two professional killers.

from:  JK Dutt
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 12:02 IST

Question here is they have already completed 20 years in Prison and it took 11 years for the President to take a decision. Some said the three people were in a stage of mental torture for the last 11 years not knowing whether they will be hanged or not. What's happening in Tamil Nadu is mere political drama. The incident which shook entire India then was well planned and executed. They knew what they are planning to do will give them a death sentence.Why should we bother to bypass the death penalty saying we need to give humanitarian consideration to those three? As J and K PM said if J and K Assembly pass a resolution to save Afsal Guru from death penalty what will happen then? Same with Ajmal Kasab.

from:  Anup
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:46 IST

Capital punishment may be abolished. But, in respect of the terrorists we cannot show mercy. If the terrorists are not punished with death penalty then we will see more such attacks. In the event of abolition of capital punishment, we should ensure that it is not applicable for terror attacks. A nation wide debate may be conducted. But, decision should not be taken hastily.

from:  S.Nedunchezhian
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:43 IST

I would say that it has already been quite late, and still getting late, these three so called victims seeking mercy, ask them are they worthy of it, they say that they have been under a trauma because of pending decisions, ask them when you killed,they were not even alive to feel the trauma and their families were left behind. So the government should do the justice to them and should not delay it anymore.

from:  Gajendra
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:33 IST

The campaign for the abolition of capital punishment in India, is a good move, it is true no one got the right to take others life, but think about these people, they killed the Prime Minister of India.

from:  Athul Nair
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:30 IST

Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant", another essay set in British Burma, narrates the killing of a gentle animal, calmly sanding and munching grass in the field. He was edged on by the crowd baying for blood, which made him raise the gun and shoot, and watch the agony of slow death of the elephant. I see a similar spectacle whenever people demand death of convicts, and they seem to settle for nothing less. This is the mob frenzy, and this cacophony should distract abolition of death penalty dialogue. The dialogue should not be guided by references such as 'killers of Rajiv Gandhi', 'Kasab' and 'Afzal Guru', as this has got nothing to do with condoning the crimes these people could have done. As Orwell says, the debate is all about "what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man".

from:  Harikrishnan Tulsidas
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:29 IST

I thank The Hindu for reprinting this. It is a great essay not only because of the cause it champions but stands out with its evocative use of similes and metaphors. As has been remarked by others, it is as if we are there watching the whole thing unfold before our very eyes.

from:  N. Jayaram
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:20 IST

No one has the right to give death penalty. Even if it's rare case the culprit should be put in bars for his whole life even without bail.For those political parties who are opposing the execution of three in Tamil Nadu should make sure that they themselves should feed them till their last breath in Jail.

from:  swetha
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:14 IST

Should we not stop Capital Punishment once and for all? Murder and killing someone is Barbaric. To kill a murderer is more barbaric even if it is for a deterrent purpose. Death penalty is not necessary to achieve the benefit of protecting the public from murderers, who may strike again. This threat can be removed from life long imprisonment. It only requires that the gravest crimes receive the severest punishment that our moral principles would allow us to impose. There is no evidence to support the claim that the death penalty is a more effective deterrent of violent crime than, say, life imprisonment. In fact, statistical studies that have compared the murder rates of jurisdictions with and without the death penalty have shown that the rate of murder is not related to whether the death penalty is in force: There are as many murders committed in jurisdictions with the death penalty as in those without.

from:  Thomas Kocherry
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:12 IST

Oh! I understand this is what scriptures describe as Kali Yuga. When Kali Yuga arrives, the victims will be treated badly and the criminals will be treated with utmost respect and reception by the judiciary and the society. Thanks to Hindu for helping us understand and demonstrate what the scriptures say about Kali Yuga.

from:  Truth Alone Triumphs
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:03 IST

Orwell is probably portraying the man correctly. Shaved head - Lock of hair - Chanting Ram!. Maybe a brahmin?

from:  Vivek
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 11:03 IST

I agree that the man being given a death penalty is a human. But wasn't Rajiv Gandhi a human ? He was our PM for God's sake. His murderers knew what they were getting into. They knew it would warrant a death penalty but they still did it. Imagine how the top soldiers and policemen feel when they risk their lives everyday to protect the nation and then see that the people of the country are more concerned about the lives of terrorists than they are about the lives of brave policemen and soldiers.

from:  Abhinav
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 10:57 IST

U canot have a right to destroy which u cannot create. that's right. but it is even same for rajiv gandhi's killers too. idealism is different and terrorism is different.

from:  jayaprabha
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 10:48 IST

Thank you for campaigning against capital punishment. When society is predominantly responsible for shaping an individual, it is very unfortunate to see that instead of punishing and reforming itself for the crimes, our society wants to terminate the individual in the name of deterrence. I would also request the editors of The Hindu to publish the research findings of Sociology and Social Psychology as to why capital punishment is wrong.

from:  A Korimilli
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 10:38 IST

Killing a man is certainly evil but what do you do to warn terrorists from striking a weak country like ours where they may come with a resolute to do a Mumbai massacre and then surrender, knowing that they will be living their entire life under Govt of India funding while their families would be getting money from their parent organisations. Only stronger countries can afford to give away death penalty as they have resources to feed them and above all, make sure the convicts are not freed by some airline hijack situation.

from:  Ankur Jamwal
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 10:34 IST

I am for abolishing capital punishment for normal people and not for terrorists like Kasab. Sorry. We have all seen him wielding the AK 47 and killing innocent people.

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 10:21 IST

I am fairly confused still on how I see capital punishment: as a failure by society to think up more creative and compassionate solutions? as a surgical removal of gangarenous limb or a malignancy? also if someone killed a loved one I cannot say what I would want then. But as a caregiver for an 81 year-old father, where we medically fight to sustain him and retain him, I found the following lines by Orwell very poignant: "I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working - bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming - all toiling away in solemn foolery."

from:  shashie
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 10:15 IST

Beautiful prose in speaking style. Personally though, I would prefer the movie 'Dead Man Walking'. As for the death penalty for the worst kind of homicide, a very thin so-called elitist minority has managed to push through legislation in their respective countries, with the majority of people remaining impassive. I have heard very senior jurists say that if today you hold a referendum in the United Kingdom, those who want capital punishment to be restored, would win hands down. That is true of most countries except maybe in a few of the Scandinavian ones. Ask someone whose near and dear ones have been killed.

from:  Hilary Pais
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 10:05 IST

Was not killing Rajiv Gandhi, barbaric? Was it not an unspeakable wrongness of cutting life short when in full tide? Do these lines not depict all of the death and destruction that various other attacks have handed out? Death of innocent people, leading innocent lives? Instead of hanging these evil men, we are to keep them in our jails and feed them till they are dead? Only to find a plane full of our people hijacked and negotiated for the release of these people? I see no justice in any campaign to abolish Capital Punishment especially when it is handed to those who have taken lives. "Your client, your murderer, is sentenced to life imprisonment. He will be behind bars or in an institution for the rest of his life. So you say. But each morning he will see the rising sun, he will taste hot food, he will hear music...His loved ones can still embrace him. I understand he can even study books, learn carpentry to build a table and chairs. In short, he lives. And that is unjust." Omerta

from:  Abhijit C P
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 10:03 IST

In The Hindu's most recent editorial calling for the abolishing of Capital Punishment,the primary argument was that of 'Tax Payers Money'. This society seems to have fixed a price of a man's life.Nothing better can be expected from a society that condones religious riots and female infanticide. While I do not expect this country or its people to support this cause,I for one am totally against Capital Punishment and support this cause wholeheartedly.

from:  Benjamin D.
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 09:40 IST

A brilliant piece! It speaks for itself. Any society that claims to be civilized should think on these things otherwise Orwellian ghost would haunt generations for what we do now.

from:  P.N.Shreeniwas
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 09:35 IST

Salute the Hindu for reprinting this extraordinary short story by Geogrge Orwell.It is criminal for the govenrment to claim right over a life. One of the most fitting senetences of this essay happens to be "He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone - one mind less, one world less."

from:  aswin
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 08:51 IST

Beautiful op-ed piece. I was aghast on reading the whole episode of hanging a man. It was just like watching a horror movie.

from:  N. Kesavan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 08:47 IST

I wish the Hindu tirelessly works for the ending of terrorism instead of supporting stopping of hanging of terrorists. If a former PM is murdered by terrorists, should mercy be showered on them? Next the Hindu campaign for attackers of Parliament too. This kind of mindset is the root cause of ruling of India by aliens. No wonder India was plundered by invaders because of this passivism. Please rethink of your misplaced mercy. I know you will not publish this. It is enough if you read this and reflect on your mind set.

from:  K.R.Reddy
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 08:46 IST

Salute the Hindu for reprinting this extraordinary short story by Geogrge Orwell.It is criminal for the govenrment to claim right over a life. One of the most fitting senetences of this essay happens to be "He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone - one mind less, one world less."

from:  aswin
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 08:44 IST

This essay is not that poignant as The Hindu suggests. It just describes a man being led to the gallows, Orwell's opinion and a few incidents surrounding it. This person's crime is not mentioned. If he was a political prisoner or if he got executed for a financial crime, it is sad. If he murdered a bunch of people or raped and killed a child, then he deserves it. Having said that, I am all for stopping the execution of the 3 LTTE men as 10 years is such a long time to decide on a mercy plea, but I support death sentence in principle in other terrorist cases like Kassab and Afssal Guru. I think the President should explain that.

from:  B J Krishnan
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 08:38 IST

This is a wonderful essay that truly brings out the horror of Capital punishment. However, people like Kasab or Afzal Guru have killed and relished their act. A Mother has cried, a Wife/Husband has cried and a child has cried because of their act and their grief is also as lamentable as the horror penned in this essay. If these terrorists can be constantly tortured and still kept just an inch away from death, then capital punishment should surely be abolished. Since that is not possible in this civilized society, removing these elements is necessary since it warns others not to follow this path and shows them where it will eventually take them to. Through Capital punishment, we are not playing God. However, we are atleast making an effort towards deterring others from following the path of destruction.

from:  Deepak Krishnamurthy
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 08:37 IST

A small mistake not noticed in 80 years since the article was written. First it says 'with a shaven head' and then 'the lock of hair'.

from:  Arvind Singh
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 08:32 IST

Lets read this and get to know more about death penalty

from:  Balaji
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 08:32 IST

I am disgusted and frightened by the blood thirstiness of the people in the land of Buddha, Mahavir and Gandhi. What objectives are being served by killing three condemned people? It cannot be deterrence and it is well established in any case that deterrence does not work. Revenge? but that can be achieved by life imprisonment- why should it involve taking a life? Such call for blood vengeance promotes and encourages the communal riots, killings and growing violence in a country known for its nonviolence. Are we a civilized society? Can we get over the demands for killing of another person? Let not the state have the power to take anyone's life.

from:  Arvind Verma
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 08:01 IST

What is the relevance of this piece of writing to the three accused? Perhaps you should ponder to think that Rajiv Gandhi and fourteen others who lost their lives did not have the luxury of saying Ram! even once. In the present scenario of utter disgust and cynicism, it is perhaps fitting to believe that this hanging originally scheduled for September 9th and then the stay for eight weeks is all a drama with the Congress, judiciary and the executive as chief players. The accused will be let off and with that as a precedent, Kasab and Guru also will be let free. This way the Dravida parties, Congress, Muslim electorate and potential killers will be happy and reassured.

from:  jay Ravi
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 07:56 IST

To the Editor: Is there something called Justice to the Victim. I am not sure about the man in the story. But when a Person kills someone brutally , does not give him the right to enjoy his life, his family friends....Does he not deserve justice...Is it only the culprit that needs sympathy?

from:  Biju
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 06:30 IST

I could not help but note the tragic irony of The Hindu's editorial campaign for the abolition of capital punishment led by its Editor-in-Chief ... which is indeed a fitting response to the "high, reiterated cry of 'Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!'" by that "puny wisp of a man, with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes". But that aside, I must say that the campaign is in keeping with the principle of 'ahimsa' reiterated by that other 'wisp of a man' in a loin cloth some eighty years ago.

from:  Vasu Subrahmanyam
Posted on: Aug 31, 2011 at 05:44 IST
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