Get real about Mohammad Afzal

India would not have got Independence had hanging served as a deterrent to terrorist activity. Our freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, Rajguru -- all dubbed terrorists by the British who ran this country -- were responsible for the killing of innocents as part of their strategy; their target was never innocents.

Therefore, please let us not make the Mohammad Afzal very real dilemma into a frikkin soap opera. I have given my point of view in the blog of 29.9.06, but these ‘human’ stories should be left out for the moment. Afzal’s son, apparently, tried to tie a rope round his neck…his mother said something about him trying to feel the pain of his father. Sorry, the kid is seven and I am aware that children exposed to such extreme trauma do grow up fast, but this is no time or occasion for pop psychology.

We do have the other side where the widow of a CRPF jawaan, killed in the Parliament attack, who was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra has threatened to return the medal if Afzal is not given the death sentence. No time for blackmail too.

Time to stick to the bare essentials.

1. The Congress (that has suddenly got chicken) now says they are against clemency; the BJP has always said so; the Shiv Sena…who the heck cares for it…Wait a minute. Political parties cannot decide on this issue. It is solely Presidential discretion.

2. Afzal is an Indian. It is clear we believe Indians are not capable of heinous acts on their own. As his lawyer Nandita Haksar pointed out, despite the apex court having acquitted Afzal of charges of belonging to any terrorist organisation, he is still referred to as a JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) operative.

3. Why the hell has the Hurriyat Conference’s Mirwaiz Umar Farooq taken up the issue of Afzal death sentence with the Bush administration in New York and sought their intervention towards seeking clemency for him? Does he not understand that the US is one of the biggest ‘civilised’ terror factories? Can we not handle the issue ourselves? This will send out the wrong signal to the Indian government.

4. A group of concerned citizens had written to the prime minister in December 2004. They had put forth a few pertinent points:

-The prosecution produced 80 witnesses. None of them even mentioned that the four persons accused of conspiring to attack the Parliament have any link to any illegal or banned organisation. All of them were acquitted of charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation.

-If Afzal was a surrendered militant how would the Pak-based JeM use him?

-His confessions were made under conditions of torture and the police made him implicate himself before the media.

-One of the other accused, Prof. S.A.R. Geelani, was framed on the basis of forged documents and fabricated evidence. After his acquittal, he has been speaking out and giving details about the conditions under which prisoners in the high risk cells are kept. The National Human Rights Commission instead of investigating the allegations closed the case filed by Mr Geelani on the ground that the jail authorities have denied the charges.

What do you expect jail authorities to do?

No one expects an emotional response. These are practical issues that need to be addressed. And for those who have accused me of bringing in other cases, like the Bombay riots, the authorities are doing it all the time. Giving examples of what happens in Pakistan. Get real. Pakistan is a different country now.

I am interested in India. Aren’t you?


  1. Excellent points. We are in times of 'collective dumbing down' of the society. No free society can survive if it refuses to question the state, and its actions.

    Read this letter by his wife, that I posted on merinews.

    Afzal: Letter for life

  2. Hi, thanks for stopping by. Re. the link. I had read the letter earlier but, as I mentioned in the blog, am avoiding emotionalising the issue deliberately.

    You are right about 'dumbing down'. Questioning the state is extremely important if we want to continue to be called a functioning democracy.

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  4. 1. what you have said elsewhere is of no interest to me HERE.

    2. "It is always the victim’s right and NOBODY ELSE’S BUSINESS! Since the security personnel that were killed are not around to provide that forgiveness – this option is nowhere available!"

    It may not be your business considering you live in some NRI cocoon, but let me remind you that in civil democratic societies it is the business of citizens to voice their views. And YOU do not decide whose business it is, get it? Technically, the victim's forgiveness is legit only according to the Sharia, and India is not an Islamic country, despite your Islamophobia.

    3."If one is not satisfied with the fairness or accuracy of the due process, one must work on the process – not go about selectively negating its verdicts."

    What if the verdicts are selective? You have clearly not read anything that is written on the subject.

    4."one wonders where all these supporters were hiding for those years and why they did not come up with any of these!" (and the rest of the blahblah...

    People have been fighting all these years. The accused were not even permitted legal counsels in the beginning and they were tried under POTA which is not valid anymore. No one needs to hide...if they did it would not have got you in such a tizzy.

    5.The feelings of the Kashmiris ARE an issue because Afzal is a surrendered JKLF person. Re. your feelings for such support, they are irrelevant.

    Kindly do not spam this blog using either your id or going under anonymity...

  5. From TOI, Oct 6:

    ‘Don’t make Afzal martyr’

    Bhagat Singh’s Kin, Patwardhan Appeal To Prez For Life Term

    Mumbai: Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan and Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s nephew Prof Jagmohan Singh have appealed in an open letter to the President and Prime Minister that the death penalty handed to Mohammad Afzal, an accused in the parliament attack case, be commuted to life imprisonment.

    “We write just in case what we have to say has not already occurred to you, or in case you are inclined not to act on your own natural instincts because you have been persuaded by some more cold-hearted logic,’’ said the letter.

    Patwardhan and Singh said they are not arguing that Afzal is likely to be innocent, and are not asking for a pardon but for commutation of the death penalty. “Such a bold decision may or may not change the heart of Mr Afzal, but it is likely to send a positive signal to the world,’’ they said.

    “If Momammed Afzal is a terrorist today, he was surely not born one. And he needn’t die one. Circumstances made him what he is. And circumstances may change him. The death penalty will change no one. Far from being a deterrent, martyrdom, as some will surely perceive it, can only achieve the opposite effect. To recall a relevant example, in comparison to today, Kashmir was virtually peaceful prior to the judicial execution of Maqbool Butt in 1984,’’ they said.

    Patwardhan and Singh argued that the country should honour Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh by doing away with the death penalty. They cited four grounds:

    A civil society should not descend to the status of murderers by preferring revenge over far better forms of justice

    All investigations, however meticulous, are subject to human error, and such errors become irreversible if death penalty is imposed

    In countries like India, where there is a huge gap between the privileged and the dispossessed, the death penalty becomes the final method of implementing class injustice. “A cursory glance at the list of all those executed in our country will reveal the blatant fact that almost all of them were poor. The rich are rarely found guilty and even if they are, they are rarely executed,’’ they said

    There is no international evidence to suggest that the death penalty is a deterrent to violent and heinous crime, countries like the UK that did away with death penalty did not see a rise in such crimes while countries like the USA, which continue to impose the penalty, show no decline.

    “The meaningful dialogue for peace that you have initiated on all issues should not be abruptly derailed by a mechanical approach to law and order. We appeal to you to halt the cycle of revenge,’’ the letter said.

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  8. FV
    Much as we (read I)have total disregard for our justice system Id doubt the apex court would have disregard any important fact before they announced their verdict especially in such a high profile case. Odds are that the charges actually stick than not.*Anon:-)

  9. Anon:

    1. You said it: it is a "high profile case", therefore the SC had to be seen to be doling out justice.

    2. The SC has made wrong decisions in the past, esp wrt worker's rights and social issues like the Narmada Dam project.

    3. Afzal was not even the 'front guy'; he was the conspirator who came out clean.

    4. If the SC is held in such supreme awe, then why have certain political parties been disregarding its judgments where communally sensitive issues are concerned?

    PS: Why the smiley after 'anon'?

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