‘The hanging of Afzal Guru has diminished India’


On the eve of the winter  budget session of Parliament and with the Gujarat Karnataka, MP, Delhi, Rajasthan elections around the corner, the scam and scandal-ridden Congress-led UPA has stumped the scam and scandal-ridden BJP-led NDA with its early-morning announcement of the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the 26/11 siege of Bombay Afzal Guru, the convict in the 2002 attack on Parliament.

Within a matter of hours, a weak government is being seen as assertive by the lynch mobs which routinely bay for blood, and a “soft-state” is slapping its thighs in delight, although the implications of the hanging—on India-Pakistan relations Guru’s home-state Kashmir, which goes to the polls next year, on the fallout in the country, on the fate of Sarabjit Singh Rajiv Gandhi‘s killers, Beant Singh‘s killers etc—are still to be weighed.

Above all, in the very week two months after India refused to be a signatory to a United Nations resolution banning the death penalty, the hanging of Ajmal Kasab Afzal Guru, almost as if to satiate the public and political need for revenge and retribution, throws a big question mark over India’s presumed humanism of the land of the Mahatma.

Editorial in The Hindu:

Afzal Guru was walked to the gallows on Saturday morning at the end of the macabre rite governments enact from time to time to propitiate that most angry of gods, a vengeful public. Through this grim, secret ceremony, however, India has been gravely diminished….

In case after case, the course of criminal justice has been shaped by public anger and special-interest lobbying. Indians must remember the foundational principle of our Republic, the guardian of all our rights and freedoms, isn’t popular sentiment: it is justice, which in turn is based on the consistent application of principles.

For one overriding reason, Guru’s hanging ought to concern even those unmoved by his particular case, or the growing ethics-based global consensus against the death penalty. There is no principle underpinning the death penalty in India today except vengeance. And vengeance is no principle at all.

Editorial in Deccan Herald:

Even where a person has killed another, or many others, in any circumstance or for any reason, there is no justification for taking his life. The provision for capital punishment is based on a primitive idea of retribution and should have no place in the statutes of a civilised society.

Afzal  Guru did not kill, and there is no absolute certainty about his role in the events that he is said to have been involved in. Then why did he have to be executed? The question will haunt the nation’s conscience in the days and years to come.

Also read: Would Gandhi have condoned Kasab‘s hanging?

CHURUMURI POLL: Hang Afzal Guru, pardon Sarabjit?