Parliament attack: Why should Mohammed Afzal be hanged?

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.


  1. I fail to understand what you meant by "terrorism won’t stop until we have world leaders behaving like terrorists"

  2. Oh! on reading again I get it. Its a chicken and egg situation...

  3. And here I was all set to make an impassioned 'defence'! (I might still do it...)

  4. "Whatever Afzal's crime" is a rather naive statement.

    Your chagrin against the politcal establishment is shared by almost everbody except perhaps the politicians themselves. But all the same, should this guy be let off just because there are others who have been let off ? Definitely Not. Should the others who have been killing people should be "roped in" ..Definitely Yes. Bloody problem is that till we wean ourselves out and put up a firm and tough stance against terror..no way this is going to wane. Our political establishment is just not cut out to do anything firm...wimps that they are. Most are old fuddy duddies born in earstwhile West Pakistan...and perhaps have an hangover over that nostalgia...and hence this softie approach towards Pakistan's terror involvement. Keep showing them proof of terror but, has Pakistani state ever done anything other than lip service at least towards India ?

    Much as we love to have an open border with Pakistan...unless and until we take a firm stand which makes it extremely costly for Pakistani establishment to turn a blind eye to the tacit support of terror and associated religious hatred establishments...I dont see any improvements in Indo-Pak relationships in the near term.

    Improve relations with Pakistan Yes...but not at the cost of our security and development.

    Yes they are nice guys...but No Thanks...I dont wanna get blown up :-)

  5. "Whatever Afzal's crime" is not a naive stmt; it is not even a statement...it is along the lines of conjecture.

    I do not think anyone should be let off because somebody else was...I mean, surely Modi should not be let off only because a few others are! What firm stance against terror can there be? Does terror inform before it arrives? Do you know of any one reason why there is terrorism?

    Have already said we need not go all gooey about improving relations...

    Yes, they are nice guys -- and women :-)I understand you might not want to get blown up. I guess you are voicing the thoughts of the majority...more in my new blog, should you reconsider!

  6. "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."

    Martyr...is a perception. For anyone fighting for whatever cause...death in the line of duty = martyrdom....whether the person be a terrorost or soldier. Where I digress from that fact is where the media and the saner voices also endorse this (hanging a chap whose aim was to kill civilians in any manner...whatever be his/her screwed up cause) as martyrdom. The guy abetted an attack on our parliament...and you mean to say he should be let off scot free ..just because some moron politicial had some arms in his house and is also free ? Lets not confuse issues here. We do not have ANY deterent for curbing terror today. We hope hanging the guy will send a message. It will not solve much but yes ..it will definitely send a stern message. High time we started doing that at the minimum. If you ask my personal opinion..we also need to "take out" (wherever in the world they are)the guys who planned and executed the IC 814 hijack, the 1993 blasts and the recent Mumbai carnage. We've been pussy-footing way too long. Nobody here talks about the atrocities the Kashmiri Pundits have faced/ are facing in Kashmir. I think you need a reality check...take a trip to Doda or wherever the Hindu / Sikh commuities live in Kashmir and ask them what they feel too. The people live in shear terror as do the muslims. If Afzal needs to be used as a message/ example..so be it ...Damn good we are finally setting one up ( assuming we don't suddenly develop cold feet and pardon the "poor guy" )

    About leaders...less said the better. As far as our country is concerned,..corruption is The single biggest abetor (to terror) and the biggest security risk we have as a country. If we can get a handle on corruption..I guess we will terror a much tougher run than it has today.

  7. The term martyr does not endorse anything - it means the fellow will be lionised. He abetted an attack on Parliament -- I want other attacks to have this quick a justice. Let me see who is hanged for the Bombay riots and the Gujarat riots, then we will return to this...

    As for sending out a strong msg, hah...Maqbool Butt is an example. Has that stopped terrorism?

    Who told you nobody talks about the Kashmiri Pandits? They themselves do it, they are very organised. I would love to hear about YOUR trip to Kashmir and your first-hand experience with the Dodas etc. I have stated this elsewhere, the so-called refugee camps in Delhi are under the nose of the Goverbnmkent of India...what the heck have they done? And yes I have visited those 'camps'.

    And why do you choose to remain anon? This blog is quite a harmless place...

  8. FV,
    Didn't mean refugee camps...

    Yep..Ive been in the Doda's and the Baramullas et al. Ive been in the thick of the tears and the bloodshed and survived because at some base level the communities in Kashmir actually get along well together superbly. Well,..having said that there is still a section that instigates and promotes voilence. We need to get a handle on those baddies. Not easy by any means.

    What will stop terrorism..? Good question..To my mind nothing will or can. Just that Some actions may help reduce the intensity and contain the damage more than others. Besides..if you dont have bad guys/ gals [;-) ] how do you label the good ones uh ?

    For that matter....there is this retired Navy guy what you call it Tahiliani or something being castigated by the Judiciary for saying they (the Judiciary) are corrupt and have no morals. True but see how bad it is now ? Given this bizarre and sad situation of both the politicuian and the judiciary we have in the country today...I am not sure who gets hung and for what. So forget about any "Justice" for Modi or Godhara or the naxalites or whatever else.

    But, all the same.."I" hold a view that if Afzal needs to be hung...he must be hung for doing what he did. Gosh..Wish we did have "The Sharia" in this land sometimes...might actually work in this chaos :-)

    The breakdown and empathy for the "terrorist" is today more glaring han before because of a totally corrupt, collapsed and disfunctional government machinery. Never too late to pull up that bit....Yeah...the naxalite movement the maoists..all shades of the same ...extreme disenchantment with the rulers who do not give too hoots about their gentry and social development.

    So like I mentioned before...need to weed out corruption before we can make any headway lady.

    PS: I happily admit that I am a coward so will stay anon...Thanks!

    PPS: Keep writing lady...who knows one day some intelligent polititian may actually take heed...After all... One in a so much chance is, better than no chance at all right !

  9. "Let me see who is hanged for the Bombay riots and the Gujarat riots, then we will return to this..."
    In other words you are justifying Pakistan- master- minded - attack on parliament because of Bomay & Gujrat riots!
    So you think Pakistan is justified in perpetrating terrorism because of Gujrat & Bombay riots; and in your book, all terror attacks, be it Godhra( you have not mentioned it once!) Aksardham, serial bombing in Bomay or bombing local trains by pakistani and Indian terrorists are fully justified because of some previous riot or incident against Musalmans!This is a rather sick medieval thinking process you have reverted to. Alas, Ma'm, this is 21st century.
    In your earlier comments on parliament attack I read your disppointment in getting "only seven" corpses. How many more do you want before you are ready to call a terrorist a terrorist ? Or perhaps you will wait until every muslim death from 7th cetury till now has been avenged. I am sorry for you ; you will need a large number of supercomputers to keep this kind of bloody accounting.


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