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The cowardly and inhumane hanging of Afzal Guru by the government and the pain of being an Indian Muslim

 

ARINDAM CHAUDHURI | New Delhi, February 11, 2013 11:28
Tags : Afzal Guru | Kasab | Attack on Indian parliament | Terrorists | Narendra Modi | Government | Congress | BJP | Mumbai attack |
 

Kasab was a terrorist from across the border – a man who was seen killing innocent Indians, by millions, almost live on TV! He had to be hanged and announcing it in advance could have created international cross-border tension. His secret hanging was understandable though the political calculations in the times of a fast rising pro-Narendra Modi wave and an intention to extract credit was apparent. Although there was euphoria around the Kasab hanging, the fact is that the hanging didn't benefit the government – it at best reduced ammunition in the hands of the BJP to criticize Congress. The government apparently didn't learn lessons from that episode. With the intention of creating another wave of euphoria, this time they executed Afzal Guru in a similar fashion. Guru, however, can by no stretch of imagination be equated with Kasab. In fact, his is a case where the veracity about his very involvement has been questioned by far too many intellectuals, Arundhati Roy included. In the book titled 13 December, a Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament, Praful  Bidwai – one of the contributors – makes a most compelling argument. Afzal was tried under POTA, but sentenced under the Indian Penal Code. POTA clearly differentiates between committing a terrorist act resulting in death (punishable by death) and conspiracy in the act (punishable by life imprisonment). While the book finds out endless loopholes in the government theory and charges created on Afzal, the way he was threatened and tortured, at least one thing is very clear – that Guru had at the most conspired to the act; yet, that allegation too, as I just said, is very debatable, despite the Supreme Court’s verdict. And if conspiracy is the main crime, then in that case the death sentence itself is a debatable punishment, though I have to accept that like many others – before I had read enough on the matter and especially this particular book – I too was happy at the death sentence and unhappy at the delay in the hanging, since the media was running its own judgment on who the culprit was and creating a massive villain out of Guru.

But today, upon hearing the news of his hanging, I am shocked! I have three key questions running in my mind:

1. Is the Indian State so weak that it cannot bravely announce the hanging of a terrorist in advance and then hang him, as is normal practice? What kind of utter shameful cowardice is this?

2. In these days of growing human rights and the worldwide humane movement towards abolishment of capital punishment, how can a government commit this inhuman act of not informing the family in advance and not allowing a man to meet his family before his death? What kind of a shameful society are we living in, which first gives a debatable verdict and then denies a man his basic rights before something as extreme as capital punishment?

3. Has the government already conceded defeat to Narendra Modi and started doing illogical and mindlessly inhumane acts, which will in no way give them any extra credit? And is there no one with sound mind to advice the roughshod losers out there looking for cheap, atrocious shortcuts to popularity?

I think my answers are within my questions, so I do not want to delve further on them. However, I should like to quote (from Arundhati Roy’s introduction in the abovementioned book) what the DSP of Special Task Force, Devinder Singh – the man who had interrogated Afzal – had barbarically told a freelance journalist openly. He had said, “I did interrogate and torture him in my camp for several days… His description of torture in the camp is true… We did pour petrol in his ass and gave him electric shocks. But I could not break him… He looked like a 'Bhondu'…a 'chootiya' type. And I had a reputation for torture, interrogation and breaking suspects. If anybody came out clean [after undergoing my interrogation], nobody would ever touch him again. He would be considered clean for good…" This statement of Devinder Singh does make one thing clear – that despite Guru's past links with terrorists (which he always had admitted to and whom he said he was trying to reform), even the morbidly truculent DSP interrogating him couldn't be sure that Guru was still involved with terrorists. Rest, I leave it upon the reader to decide.

I, however, wish to end on a different note – the tragedy of being an Indian Muslim. And that is, they are the people who are kept the poorest, with the least access to education, health and livelihood, like the Dalits in India. But at the same time, they are sucked and exploited by various political parties for petty gains; and every other pseudo-intellectual who wishes to prove his secular credentials bends backwards to argue on their behalf, even when Muslims go wrong. Yet, after all this, Muslims live in fear, are meted out clearly unequal treatment and remain perennially marginalized. I dream of a nation soon where all those being marginalized and treated so unfairly and unequally, from the Dalits to the Muslims, are given great access to education, health, employment and justice, so that in the first place, they never think of wrong ways; and if they do, they are given a chance to reform and get fair justice at the least. And those who finally still need to be hanged – if that’s the only way out – are given a fair, civilized and humane treatment even while being hanged. By a nation that is brave enough to do it openly and boldly and not like the current cowardly, human rights violating, spineless parasites.

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Posted By: Asifuddin | Hyderabad | February 23rd 2013 | 01:02
Hats off to Mr Arindam Chaudhuri for being well balanced and objective. I wish to just add one question to his three questions: 4. What's the fun in burying the hanged prisoners in the jail premises? Is it a museum of a sort? This raises many eyebrows, as to what treatment was meted out to him before the 'hanging'!
Posted By: Harpreet Singh Dhillon | Nanded | February 19th 2013 | 10:02
I would appreciate Arindam, if you investigate about Balwant Singh Rajoana & write truth about it as well, how govt. has showed their cowardness towards the person who is still fighting for his rights
Posted By: nasneen anwar | Andaman and nicobar islands | February 19th 2013 | 00:02
Thank u, for bringing out- what problems muslims face everyday in India being an "INDIAN", most of the time we muslims of India are considered as outsiders... which is wrong.
Posted By: Monika | Bhatatpur | February 18th 2013 | 22:02
It is debatable that is our government such a coward that the hanging is not previously announced but hanging of a terrorist can not be questioned as right or wrong, and the families of the victims were informed about their sudden deaths in attacks? I don't think there should be any mercy for the terrorists...
Posted By: Aayush | Dubai | February 17th 2013 | 16:02
Sir, i wish you were the lawyer of Afzal Guru. i am damn sure with your intelligence and facts in hand, Azfzal Guru cold have been proved innocent..but alas he became a political bone of contention between BJP and Congress. shame on them
Posted By: AAyush | Dubai | February 17th 2013 | 16:02
Sir, I wish you were the lawyer on Afzal Guru. I am dam sure with your intelligence and facts in hand, Azfzal Guru cold have been proved innocent..but alas he became a political bone of contention between BJP and Congress..shame on them
Posted By: Avanindra Jha | New Delhi | February 17th 2013 | 13:02
The chaos regarding the hanging of Afzal Guru by the muslim community is understandable, after all they aren't quite the heartfelt Indians ... whenever they are struck into a scenario of choosing between India and muslims they give the precedence to the later ...pity ! Afzal Guru was involved in a terror activity and he should have been hanged much before as simple as that ... why create drama out of it ?
Posted By: Deepak | Dubai | February 17th 2013 | 12:02
It is surprising to see so much sympathy for a terrorist. So what if he was hanged in secracy. So what his body was burried in jail. He was just a bloody terrorist and does not even deserves a discussion
Posted By: kazim | Dubai | February 13th 2013 | 17:02
The west has done its part by portraying every Muslim from anywhere in the globe to be suspected as a Terrorist. I must remind you that it was not a Muslim who brutally murdered approx 20,000/- civilians in Gaza not long time back. It is a shame we fail to research the real facts and just believe what the TV BOX tells us. The people of the Sub-Continent need to stick together and tell them "ENOUGH"
Posted By: gulzar | Mumbai | February 12th 2013 | 23:02
With all due respect to all the muslims, I wonder if the ones wanting to go with pakistan have any inkling as to what they are getting into. A jump from one of the fastest growing economies to a failed state cannot be pleasant!!??
Posted By: Freddie | New Delhi | February 12th 2013 | 20:02
It was not hanging of a person like Afzal Guru who did not deserve death penalty but it was the democracy that was hanged by the shameless politicians for their personal interests.
Posted By: Irfan | South Korea | February 12th 2013 | 12:02
I couldn't agree more, hats off Sir !
Posted By: Mahendra Sharma | Delhi | February 12th 2013 | 11:02
Average Muslim in India is safe. They have now realised that they are also Indians and posses the equal rights. They do not need self styled leaders as their saviours. May be few hundreds are brainwashed by Pakistan/Jaise Tayyaba etc who think they have the agency of Islam. Divisions have come from the congress only and not from the Muslims/Hindus.
Posted By: Harpreet | Amritsar | February 12th 2013 | 11:02
The decision of the govt is completely acceptable.
Posted By: salman | Indore | February 11th 2013 | 17:02
I don't know why Muslims are always leveled as terrorists. None inquires about the reasons they take to guns. They are considered as outsider most of the time. It's sad they are misunderstood most of the time. They should be given sympathetic understanding and should not be judged based on few examples.
Posted By: Star | Delhi | February 12th 2013 | 23:02
Mr Salman if u are living in India try living in Pakistan for 1 year than u will not be able to utter one word U just said. In Baghdad several musjids were demolished to broaden roads where even Mohammad saheb paid namaj.
Posted By: Adnan | Lahore | February 17th 2013 | 16:02
Fair enough bro... Totally agreed...
Posted By: simardeep singh | Raigarh,chhattisgarh | February 11th 2013 | 17:02
I completely agree with you on this.
Posted By: PN Singh | Pune | February 11th 2013 | 16:02
Why so much kolaveri after the hanging?
Posted By: abhay gupta | Morena | February 11th 2013 | 16:02
When it's Afzal Guru, he is being talked and discussed so much. But no one cares about a true Muslim who works hard and honestly for the country. The political class has completely ignored our former President APJ Kalaam. What a pity?
Posted By: burhan qazii | Kashmir | February 11th 2013 | 15:02
I realy want to salute you brother. Thank you very much for speaking truth. Thanks because speaking truth in India has become a crime.
Posted By: Arjun | Mumbai | February 11th 2013 | 12:02
Is Arundhati Roy an Intellectual ??
Posted By: Shabeer | Mumbai/Bangalore/Kerala | February 11th 2013 | 12:02
Thank you Arindam for this article and being bold to state the situation of Muslim in India. Thank You
Posted By: Pratik | India | February 11th 2013 | 12:02
It was indeed written very convincingly but the plight of Muslims as mentioned needs clarification, they are treated as equal as any other person of any other religion and to prove this point just have a look at the no of Muslims who cleared IITs, who are in the government jobs (so hard to get). If a family is to be sacrificed for the sake of national interest it is worth because informing a family was not as important as the tensions that might have rose among the Muslims. Also, I would like to include one more thing that if the government is




Issue Dated: Apr 27, 2014