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?
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.