A large section of India’s voters — constituting the dominant view — are in favour of abolishing the death penalty, as per the CSDS survey. There is, however, a polarisation on the issue with a substantial section in favour of continuing it as a form of punishment.

The survey interviewed close to 20,000 respondents across 267 constituencies in 18 States. It reveals that many Indian voters are uneasy with current principles and practice that govern India’s internal security management. This spans across issues, including the form of punishment meted out in the ‘rarest of rare’ offences, the handling of terror cases, and Naxalism.

Forty per cent of the respondents ‘fully’ or ‘somewhat’ agreed with the proposition that the ‘death penalty should be abolished as life imprisonment was punishment enough’. 30 per cent, however, disagreed. Another 30 per cent did not offer an opinion.

Forty-eight per cent of upper-class respondents, 48 per cent of college-educated respondents, 45 per cent Muslims, 45 per cent urban voters, and 43 per cent youth are in favour of abolishing capital punishment.

But in the same categories, there is resistance too, with 39 per cent of the upper-class voters, 41 per cent of the college-educated, 31 per cent Muslims, 34 per cent urban voters, and 33 per cent youth opposing its abolition.

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