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?