Friday, October 06, 2006

Mohammed Afzal: Indian Drama

Mohammed Afzal is convicted for his role in attack on Indian Parliament on 13th December 2001. He is given a death sentence.

Indians are not just happy carrying out the verdict of Supreme Court. They want to debate. Good that they debate. They should debate- how else would we have a democratic institution. But then, we don’t know when to stop. Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, along with other activists made an appeal to Indian Parliament and President of India to provide clemency- otherwise Kashmir would see 50,000 youth protesting and the valley would be up in flames. This is when we make a travesty of our Indian democratic setup.

Can a convict plead for clemency?

Can a convict plead for review of his trial because he or his family members or anyone else believe that he did not get a fair trial?

Can a President pardon a convict who has been given a death sentence?

But can a convict be given clemency on the basis that it will cause huge political turmoil in the country?
Absolutely NO!

If India goes ahead with clemency on the reasons that this death sentence will derail Kashmir peace process, or that it will cause mass-scale riots, or because Kashmir will go up flames once again causing agitation on grand scale, it will set an extremely wrong precedent. And we all have to hang our faces in shame that this is what we brought our country to.

Tomorrow every political group or outfit will ask for clemency on the basis that their state will go in flames otherwise. Where is respect for law of the land? And when will learn where to draw the line?

If Afzal was given too harsh a sentence, it should be challenged in court- another appeal can be made. If Afzal was not given a fair trial, there can be a review of the trial. If Afzal is given clemency by the President of India because of certain personal reason, we should abide by it. Whether one agrees with death sentence or whether one agrees with freedom movement in Kashmir are irrelevant. Law of the land should be upheld. Otherwise we will make mockery of all our institutions that we painfully built for all these years.


  1. Polite Indian:
    I think it is a letter written by distraught wife who is about lose her husband to a death sentence. She wants to do every thing she can to save him.

    I can't comment on the veracity of the incidents. But yes, there is a good possibility that some of the incidents she described might have happened. When Army rules a place, brutalities are bound to happen. Nobody likes to be under Army rule. When I was young, I used to hear people cry from police stations- they were one of most horrible cries I ever heard in my life- of men in extreme pain. When these men were let out, they could not walk- and were completely beaten up. The women had to carry them home- most often they were poor people from the nearby villages. Our place was under Section 144 because we had naxalites in our region. While we were growing up, we were told to never get close to any police man. We were always afraid of police in our region. If there was shootout, we were adviced 'to run towards naxalites - they may spare you, but if you run towards police, you can be sure you will be killed.'

    I have heard stories of Indian Army brutalities in North-east and Kashmir.

    Regarding her letter, its hard to say how much of it is true. Is Afzal so innocent as she portrays? Can't say!

    BUT YES, she has a right to appeal.

  2. Sujai:

    Note that the letter was written in September 2004. The death sentence is a recent thing.

    If I assume just one thing to be correct from her entire letter then her story seems plausible. If I accept that he did surrender to the BSF then you one can imagine that he could have still been tortured to ferret out information by the Army.
    If he did surrender then obviously there is not much funding coming from the terrorist organisations to help his wife out.

    Do you think, If someone from Kashmir is charged as a terrorist and the guy is not resourceful, is it possible for him to get a fair trial in India?

    Well, whatever I am saying is all speculative.
    If this is the judgement he gets after due process, then I guess we should all accept it.

  3. Polite Indian:

    I didn't realize it was written long ago. However, I don't we should get biased her letter. If it is proved in the court, then she is right, otherwise it makes a good letter for support.

    Her letter is very critical of Indian Army- it will not go well with many Indians for whom Indian army is another sacred symbol.

    Yes, there could be a bias against someone targeted for such a big crime against nation. However, Geelani was acquitted.

    Usually I don't like to comment on whether the verdict was right or wrong. Its upto the law of the land. However, if he did not get a fair trial, he deserves a retrial, and we should support it.

    If he is condemned to death by the court. He should be put to death.

  4. Living in India I think you shud know something of the brutal interrogation tactics of the Indian Police..Trust me..Under the 3rd degree that they adopt..u, me or anyone wud confess to any damn thing including even the Kennedy assasination (If the Americans had Indian police on the case, I believe it wud have been "solved" long ago)..Forget all that..Think of the recent Malegaon bomb blasts.."Frontline" carried a story in which the police were offering a bribe of 500,0000 to anyone willing to "accept" a role in the crime !!!!!
    And just for a minute Sujai, ponder on the more general question of the thousands of Indians jailed and put up in sub-human conditions w/o a fair trial..(If u think there is a such a thing as a "fair trial" in India, then u might as well as believe in the tooth fairy or perhaps ask the ghost of Jessica Lal :( )

  5. Rightly said Sujai, both the blog entry and the comments.

    Your fan

  6. These things should have been anticipated... and perhaps something done about them early on.

    But, here no body is thinking about the future. Politicizing the worst thing that can happen.

  7. //me or anyone wud confess to any damn thing including even the Kennedy assasination//

    Just for a lighter mood

    It was rumored that there is a tiger killing cows in Japan. Since Japanese police could not find the tiger, they called help from Scotland Yard, FBI and then Indian Police (you decide the state)

    FBI guys tried for two weeks and could not succeed. Scotland Yard Guys tried for another two weeks.

    When the Indian team which went into the forest did not return, others were apprehensive. FBI and the British teams went inside the forest to look for the Indians

    They saw the Indian Police, having tied a cat upside by its tail and it was hanging and a police was hitting the poor cat. The cat was crying "Leave me, I am not a tiger. But if you want, I will tell that I am the tiger in the court"

    This was a common skit we used to have in college days


    More than Veerappan, it is the STF which played the role of a state-sponsored gang of criminals who indulged in large-scale sexual violence on women, lootings, killings and third degree torture of innocent civilian population. Veerappan could not be apprehended, not just because of his popularity as ‘Robinhood’ but because of the inhuman, cruel and ruthless methods of oppression and atrocities on local masses resorted to by the STF. It was the secret behind the bandit’s long drawn elusiveness.


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