“I only asked for pardon to stop millions of Kashmiri people hitting the streets. If I am hanged, I would take it as a sacrifice towards the people of Kashmir.”
– Afzal Guru in 2008
The state has imposed curfew in the Valley. Early this morning, Afzal Guru was hanged to death. It was a silent operation. He will be buried in Tihar Jail. This is to ensure that there is no backlash.
This is probably the worst mistake the UPA has made. If it wants ‘peace’, it should not have announced it at all. This is a government of hangmen. Of course, there are political compulsions. I wonder whether our Congress Prince also wants the blessings of some seers at the Kumbh Mela.
Some might say that Afzal’s plea for clemency was already rejected, so it was only a matter of time. For this, we need to revisit several important events, including the crucial fact that his case was never a watertight one.
- 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.
In 2001, the NDA government was in power; they did nothing. Now, the BJP is gloating and complaining about the delay in the hanging.
They entered Parliament. They managed to get a sneak look into the House (watch the TV pictures of the terrorist taken from inside Parliament). Mr. L.K.Advani said 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.
Yet, in 2008, Afzal had said, “I really wish LK Advani becomes India's next prime minister as he is the only one who can take a decision and hang me. At least my pain and daily suffering would ease then…I have also requested that till the time they (government) take a decision, they shift me to a Kashmir jail.”
He did not consider the undertrials, little kids, old men, who have been arrested on fake charges (sometimes not even that courtesy was extended; they were just hauled up) who waiting for justice for years. At that time, he was reading India wins freedom by Maulana Azad about the country's independence movement. The Kashmiris would not quite get it, the Kashmiris who he was fighting for.
There is too much politics, and even terrorists were forced to play it.
Every few months the Afzal Guru mercy petition was brought out for airing. In 2011, the government advised the President to reject his plea. Everybody likes a nice linear structure, and no one better than the media. The Times of India had written:
“Guru, along with some others, was accused of plotting the audacious attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001 in which a group of jihadis came very close to wiping out India’s political brass. The aggression almost provoked an Indo-Pak war, with India mobilizing troops along the border to force Pakistan to cut its support to terror groups.”
This is plain over-the-top dramatic. Where are the points about how a group can enter Parliament? Let us also not forget that Professor S.A.R. Geelani was arrested for being part of the “group of jihadis” but had to be released.
And here is the precious sanctimonious ‘TIMES VIEW’ that ends in a typically foolish manner:
“As a philosophy, this paper is opposed to the death penalty. One of the very few exceptions we make is with terrorists—when guilt is beyond the shadow of a doubt. Guru execution will take weight off Cong back.”
It will be interesting to see some turncoat behaviour now. I am particularly curious about Dr Farooque Abdullah’s stand. Back in 2006 he had said:
“You want to hang him? Go ahead and hang him. But the consequences of hanging him must also be remembered. One of the consequences will be... we have paid the price of Maqbool Butt’s hanging by the judge who was shot in Kashmir. Those judges will need to be protected like anything.”
Judges have been shot at in courtrooms by goondas and the underworld too. And people in the public eye in controversial cases are always at risk. That is the reason our country has Z or is it “Zzzzz” security.
He also said the nation would go up in flames. This was the language Bal Thackeray used all the time, and of course everyone just indulged him; some even felt he was right.
Omar Abdullah has no choice but to be calm, call for calm.
In September 2011, he was trapped between the BJP and the Hurriyat. At any other time it would have been a wonderful place to be in, berated by two extremist groups. Unfortunately for him, their reasons for putting him on the mat were vastly different.
The chief minister was quoted from Twitter as saying: "If the J&K assembly had passed a resolution similar to the one in Tamil Nadu on Afzal Guru would the reaction have been as muted? I think not."
The death penalty for Rajiv Gandhi's killers has been delayed by state intervention. This is unusual.
Omar is right in that there are different standards. Interestingly, the muted reaction he was complaining about has agitated people and 'unmuted' them. The BJP is going hoarse with sudden concern for Rajiv Gandhi. (They are quiet over the acquittal of Haren Pandya's killers. Pandya was a BJP man who later had a fallout with Modi.)
The BJP uses the phrase "sovereignty of the nation" rather loosely. Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, unfortunate as it was, had its own dynamics that had to do with policy. The LTTE is not an Indian organisation, although it has its supporters. Such support results in huge electoral gains.
The BJP is worried about this aspect. After all, Priyanka Gandhi had met Nalini, one of her father's killers, in Vellore jail in 2008. The death verdict was given 11 years ago. Why did the BJP not put pressure to expedite it as they have done on a regular basis in the case of Afzal Guru, an Indian?
Omar Abdullah was pointing out the double standards, and one should see this as part of a thriving democracy that we are so chuffed about, with people out in the street.
However, the Hurriyat's Mirwaiz Omar Farooq had wondered why if he was so concerned about Afzal did he not resign. Again, this was missing the wood for the trees situation.
Omar Abdullah was in fact speaking as a political leader and expressing the helpless predicament of dealing with Kashmir. He chose the wrong forum to do so.
A few 'other' questions too need to be asked:
1. Would he raise the issue in the J&K assembly?
2. If so, would it mean he is doing so on humanitarian grounds or on a legal/factual basis?
3. If the latter, then would he risk providing possible loopholes?
4. How often do fake encounters figure in the assembly?
5. Does exposing political hypocrisy - I am assuming the muted reference was to politicians - enough?
This is a question for all parties. We do live in times when terrorists too have a vote bank, that is those who are not behind establishment-buffered terror.
Answers need to be sought in the right place, unless the 'people's movement' has seeped into the system's bones. In that case, stone-pelters should be excused.
(c) Farzana Versey
Much of these are sourced from my previous articles/posts
Much of these are sourced from my previous articles/posts