Date December 13, 2001. Attack on Indian Parliament. One of the accused, Mohammed Afzal, to be hanged to death on October 20. Fantastic! The salivating masses are feeling upbeat. They seriously believe that justice is prevailing.
Really? Why have there been no arrests for what happened during the Bombay riots? What has happened to the Srikrishna report?
Everyone knows that the case of the Parliament attack is skating on thin ice. This is what I had written on December 31, 2001:
How many dead? Seven. And suddenly the Indian Parliament has woken up. Until the other day they had brought everything to a standstill because our defence department was accused of importing aluminum caskets for our martyrs of Kargil, which were not even used for the purpose. Apparently, it was some recyclable material. It caused an uproar. People were screaming, as is the wont in good democracies. And now five terrorists manage to get into close range of this citadel, kill seven people, not one parliamentarian, mind you, and our defence ministry gets a shot in the arm.
I must let you in on the prevalent discussions in the so-called elite society to which I am supposed to belong. When the bomb blasts happened after the Bombay riots, there were any number of people, and I am talking about those from the majority community, who said, “If they had to do this, they should have targeted Mantralaya (the seat of government in the city) and we would have all been happy.”...
They entered Parliament. They managed to get a sneak look into the House (watch the TV pictures of the terrorist taken from inside Parliament). Now, Mr. L.K.Advani says it was a fidayeen attack, if they could do this in the USA, then why not us? But, there were air strikes on the Pentagon and Twin Towers – here you had these fellows driving in, coming out of their vehicles and managing to get close to three gates. And they were just five men. Anyone who has visited Parliament, and I have, knows that there is a huge security cordon at all times and more so when Parliament is in session.
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I am not at all surprised that there are protests in J&K. While Afzal has himself refused to file for mercy, the people in the Valley and sociologists, legal luiminaries are all against it. The political parties too have got into the picture. There is the news that Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP seeks clemency for Parliament attack convict Afzal.
The report states, "She questioned the wisdom of executing Guru at a time when India is building bridges with Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. Claiming Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad too was in favour of clemency for Guru, she told reporters, "I'll suggest that all (political parties) -- the Congress, National Conference and PDP and other mainstream parties -- should together appeal to the President to change this sentence from death to life imprisonment.
"Noting that Guru has a young son and elderly parents, Mehbooba said when Nalini, one of those sentenced to death for the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, could be shown mercy, the same could be done for Guru.
The CPI-M too demanded a review of Guru's death sentence, saying the step would hamper the peace process in the subcontinent. "The execution of the verdict would make matters worse and given the seriousness of the situation, one cannot ignore the tumult caused due to the decision of hanging Guru and its negative impact on the peace process," said a statement from the party.
I am not thinking of the peace process. It will not happen anyway at the political level. I want to know why other major crimes by the State have gone unchecked. How many people have been hanged for those?
The 1993 Bombay blasts case hearing is going on and people have been given their sentences for planting bombs and even possessing them. What is the verdict on Madhukar Sarpotdar, the Shiv Sena MLA, who at that time had a stock of arms in his house and used them?
We want answers. I did not want to say this in the beginning, lest it be seen as pussy-footing, but capital punishment is never the solution. Whatever be Afzal’s crime, if he is hanged you will have a martyr. This won’t stop terrorism. In fact, terrorism won’t stop until we have world leaders behaving like terrorists.