Pending a final decision for almost six months now, the mercy petition of Mohammed Afzal Guru, the death row convict in the Parliament attack case, has bounced back into international reckoning with the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering, raising the issue during a meeting with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in Strasbourg last week.
The fact that Pottering broached the issue is a victory for British and European human rights campaigners who have said there has been a “miscarriage of justice”. But the BJP has denounced the European Parliament’s interference in an internal issue of India. Kalam, who has only a few months to go before he remits office, has clarified that the fate of Afzal Guru will be decided as per “the law of the land”.
Questions: Should Afzal Guru be pardoned given the facts of the case and the mounting international pressure? Or should India cock a snook at the rights’ activists and hang him, regardless of the diplomatic ramifications? If Afzal Guru is pardoned, should all the other 22 mercy petitions before the President be dealt with similarly? Is the UPA government buying time and playing votebank politics? Or is it being fair and just in dealing with a human life?