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Four statements on the execution of Afzal Guru

February 9, 2013

Statement from the PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

The PUCL condemns the hanging of Afzal Guru in Tihar Jail early in the morning (9.2.2013) today.

The tearing hurry with which Afzal Guru was hanged, accompanied by the flouting of all established norms by not giving his family their legal right to meet him before taking him to the gallows, clearly indicates that there were political considerations behind taking this step. More shameful is the explanation of the Home department that the wife and family of Afzal Guru were intimated of the hanging by a mail sent by Speed Post and Registered Post. Decency and humanity demanded that the Union Government give prior intimation to the family and an opportunity to meet him. Such a surreptitious action of the government also deprives the family of Afzal Guru to right to seek legal remedy.

PUCL also condemns the repressive stand of the Delhi police in not allowing a group of people who were protesting against the hanging and detaining them in police stations. We are equally concerned by reports that right-wing goons were permitted by the police to use violence against the protestors. PUCL asserts the right of citizens to dissent and express their opposition to capital punishment in a peaceful manner.

PUCL reiterates its demand for the abolition of the death penalty. PUCL is of the view that India must not retain in its statute book something so abhorrent to human rights as the death penalty. More especially, when more than one hundred and fifty countries have banned or put a moratorium on it. PUCL feels that as the land of Buddha and Gandhi, death penalty has no place.

PUCL feels that starting with Kasab, now with Afzal Guru, the country is going to witness a spate of executions. We give a call to the nation to break this spiral of executions.

Prabhakar Sinha (President)
V Suresh (General Secretary)

*

Statement from AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Today’s execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru indicates a disturbing and regressive trend towards executions shrouded in secrecy and the resumption of death penalty use in India, said Amnesty International India.

“We condemn the execution in the strongest possible terms. This very regrettably puts India in opposition to the global trends towards moving away from the death penalty,” said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.

Indian authorities hanged Mohammad Afzal Guru at 0800 hrs in Tihar Jail, New Delhi on 9 February 2013. His execution is the second in India in three months after an eight year hiatus.

Mohammed Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in December 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy to attack the Parliament of India, waging war against India and murder in December 2001. He was tried by a special court designated under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), a law which fell considerably short of international fair trial standards and has since been repealed, in 2004, after serious allegations of its widespread abuse.

Seven members of the security forces including a woman constable were killed in the December 2001 attack on India’s Parliament complex in central Delhi, as were the five persons who had carried out the attack.

Afzal Guru’s death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in August 2005, and his mercy petition was reportedly rejected by the President on 3 February 2013. Of the other three persons initially arrested for the attack, Afsan Guru was released without charges. The trial court also imposed death sentences on Delhi-based professor S A R Geelani and Shaukath Hussain Guru, but the Supreme Court acquitted Geelani of all charges and commuted Shaukath Hussain Guru’s sentence to 10 years’ imprisonment. He was released from Tihar jail in December 2010.

“Serious questions have been raised about the fairness of Afzal Guru’s trial. He did not receive legal representation of his choice or a lawyer with adequate experience at the trial stage. These concerns were not addressed,” said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.

“Before Ajmal Kasab’s execution in November, Indian authorities used to make information about the rejection of mercy petitions and dates of execution available to the public prior to any executions. The new practice of carrying out executions in secret is highly disturbing,” said Shashikumar.

It is not clear whether Afzal Guru was given the opportunity to seek a judicial review of the decision to reject his mercy petition – a practice that has been followed in other cases.

According to initial reports from Kashmir, Afzal Guru’s family in Kashmir say they were not informed of his imminent execution, in violation of international standards on the use of the death penalty. The body was also not returned to the family for last rites and burial, in violation of international standards.

India is among a minority of countries which continue to use the death penalty. In total, 140 countries, more than two thirds of the world’s countries, are abolitionist in law or in practice. In 2011, only 21 states in the world executed, meaning that 90 per cent of the world was execution-free.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. It opposes it as a violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

*

Statement from the COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

The CRPP condemns strongly the illegal execution of Mohd. Afzal Guru. The central home minister and the home secretary have gone on record saying that every procedure has been followed in the case of Afzal Guru. None of his family members are aware of this decision of the Government of India. Nor do the lawyers of Afzal Guru. It is mandatory on the side of the government to inform the petitioners who had filed the clemency petition. Afzal’s wife Tabassum had filed a clemency petition demanding justice for her husband who never throughout the trial got an opportunity to defend himself and demand justice. She had in that petition even traced his early days in Kashmir and how he was continually being harassed and tortured by the notorious STF of J&K to act as an informer for the state. She showed in that petition how the ordeal has still been continuing in the life of her husband and their family in their quest for justice. The fact remains that neither Tabassum nor any of her family members have been informed about the rejection of this petition.

It is absolutely necessary that once a clemency petition is rejected the petitioner should be informed so that s/he can take recourse to other provisions that are guaranteed by the judiciary of India. There are provisions for judicial review which are quite exhaustive. But Afzal Guru was denied once again his last chance to represent himself and get relief from the gallows.

It should be noted that Mr. Bhullar who is also under death row in Tihar Jail had moved a petition in the Supreme Court to look into the matter of the delay in the execution of death sentence. There are case laws in the apex court wherein pronounced delay in the execution of death sentence is in itself grounds for converting the same into life. The court had appointed Mr. Ram Jethmalani as the amicus curiae in this case and was hearing the petition. That the Government of India under the Congress government has even subverted the Supreme Court in clandestinely executing the death sentence bemoans the real, fascist nature of this government which has scant regards for its own judiciary and law.

The clandestine execution of the death sentence of Mr. Afzal Guru violating all procedures and even the law of the land is nothing but desperate attempts of the ruling class parties like the Congress and the BJP to bet for votes appealing to the frenzy of jingoism. After having alienated the masses of the people and even the middle class through their anti-people, pro-market policies resulting in widespread miseries for the working people these parties have lost their faces and credibility and hence this desperate, brazen display of competitive jingoism on the life of someone who from the day one had never a chance to defend himself properly.

We at the CRPP appeal to all the democratic and progressive sections of the subcontinent to see through these devious designs of the ruling classes and forge a mass movement to abolish the evil of death penalty from the subcontinent.

The CRPP protests against the arrest of Prof.SAR Geelani who is our Working President while on his way to Malviya Nagar by the notorious Special Cell of the Delhi Police. The Special Cell as usual is browbeating in every possible way to terrorise the people from expressing their dissent against the clandestine execution of Mr. Afzal Guru. We demand his immediate and unconditional release. We call upon all progressive and democratic sections to protest against such fascist designs of the Indian state.

In Solidarity,

Amit Bhattacharyya (Secretary General); PA Sebastian (Vice President); MN Ravunni (Vice president); Rona Wilson (Secretary Public Relations)

*

Condemn the Cold Blooded Execution of Afzal Guru by the state: Resolution adopted at the Second Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture, 9 February 2013

This House condemns in no uncertain terms the hanging of Afzal Guru by stealth and in secrecy, disallowing him the last judicial resort that was due to him. We condemn the callous denial to Afzal Guru the last opportunity to meet with his family members.

There is ample documentation to demonstrate that Afzal Guru’s trial was vitiated; that his legal defence was compromised; that fabricated and forged evidence was submitted to, and accepted by the court, the highest of which, admitted while sentencing him to death that this was done to satisfy the ‘collective conscience of the nation’.

We strongly oppose the cold-blooded execution of Afzal Guru in our name.

Signatories/-

Vrinda Grover, Senior Advocate, Delhi

Yug Mohit Chaudhary, Senior Advocate, Mumbai

Manisha Sethi, Sangamitra Sanghamitra Misra, Tanweer Fazal and Rahul Govind, JTSA

V Suresh, Kavita Srivasta, Ravi Kiran Jain & Mahtab Alam, PUCL

Usha Ramanathan, Legal Researcher

Harsh Mandar, Aman Biradiri

Mahmood Farooqui, Writer

Anusha Rizvi, Filmmaker

Dilnawaz Pasha, Journalist

Shweta Ghosh, Filmmaker

Aporvanand, DU

Aftab Alam, DU

Kalaiyavasan, JNU

Priyanka Varma

Peggy Mohan, Linguist and author

Meera Ahmad, Anthropologist

Mukul Dube, Writer-Editor

Iqbal Ahmad, Journalist

Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM

Mona Das, DU

Sadiq Naqvi, Journalist

Inteshar Ahmad

Binno Sen

Neenu Suresh

Prashanto Chandra Sen

Mirtyunjay, Student for Resistance

Md wasim

Asad Ashraf, jamia millia islamia

Mayur Suresh, Advocate

G Anamda Selam, Advocate

Kaveri Gill

Kiran Bhatty

Daanish Hussain, actor

Prince Jindal

Seema Misra

Sohail Akbar

Shalini Gera, Activist

Monu Kohar

G. Venkatesan, CHRI

Mary Abraham, Ambedkar University

Bhawana Mahajan

Raja Bagga

P C Sen

Kusum Lata, SFR

Jitendra Kumar, JNU

S. Prabu

S. Sethu Mahendran

Kathipavan. N, DU

K.S.M. Vimal Kanth

Suchi Chaudhary

Nasiruddin, Journalist

Chitra Chaudhry

Sawmiya Rajaran, JNU

Sriranjini Vadiraj

Shreya Ghosh

Jeevika Shiv

Gauri Jagdale

Suroor Mander

Dheeraj Pandey

Sahba Saiyyad

Manisha Pandey, Journalist

Shahnawaz Malik, Journalist

Malathi M

Anisha Raman

G. S. Anuj Kumar

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Aysha Munira permalink
    February 10, 2013 2:59 AM

    I take pride in being an Indian and what makes me feel proud is primarily our freedom to express our opinions and question those in power in peaceful ways. I don’t think that those who happen to hold power are beyond human fallibility. Hence the right of the public to peaceful demonstration is very important which, ideally speaking, should work as conscience of the nation. Afzal Guru’s hanging seems to be a case of ‘give dog a bad name and hang him’. A surrendered militant who should be taken as an asset and a positive sign of change in the insurgency-marked state and should rather be rehabilitated for the restoration of his faith in Indian democracy was denied a fair trial and the citizens are being denied their right to register protest against the law enforcers’ arbitrary verdict and stealthy execution. There are visible fissures in the way law of the land is being doled out and instead of moving forward our democracy seems to be taking to regressive moves and techniques that are basically hallmarks of repressive and totalitarian governments.

  2. February 10, 2013 10:11 AM

    Some good points raised by Amnesty and others. It will be a while before India abolishes death penalty. Let us also note that in India judicial executions are few and far between, if you take a broader picture. It’s only recently that we witnessed two executions – both related to terrorism – in the space of a few months and this is not the trend. As regards Afzal Guru, it’s puzzling why (i) he was not allowed to file judicial review of the (rejection of) his clemency petition and (ii) his family members were not granted a last meeting with him and (iii) his dead body wasn’t returned to the family. I believe time will answer some of the questions. Dust hasn’t settled yet.

  3. Indian permalink
    February 10, 2013 3:41 PM

    We often come across the term “judicial conscience”. Where exactly does this entity reside? The CJI has observed that the judiciary is the ultimate defender of citizens’ rights. Who will defend these rights if the courts fail us? One of the most twisted problems in legal theory is the assumed neutrality of judges. Not to mention the distinction between forensic and narrative versions of truth. What is the guarantee of this neutrality and how is it manifested? Truth is surely not a mere technical or formal detail. The idea of justice is antecedent to the emergence of constitutional systems or governments. Otherwise we would not speak of natural law. But does justice reside exclusively in the utterances of courts? Law is the basis of an orderly society. It represents the need for a fair resolution of conflicts. Although democratic governments may exist only upon public approval, judges cannot be subject to the whims of electorates. What then, can ensure that those entrusted with the care of justice will fulfil their charge? Ultimately the social contract is a historical gamble. It depends upon the alertness of the citizenry and a public ethos that respects the ideals that lie behind the phrase “the rule of law”. – Dilip Simeon (Extracted from a Note posted by Chandan Gomes on FB)

  4. Kaneez Fathima permalink
    February 10, 2013 4:26 PM

    Condemn Statement by Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee

    Stop Killing of people in the name of idea of India.
    Condemn strongly the brutal execution of Afzal Guru

    Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee strongly condemns the brutal execution of Afzal Guru today morning at 7.30 am in Tihar Jail by the Congress led government of India. It is a matter of shame for the whole civilized world that an innocent person, on whom criminal charges were framed on doubt, was hanged without informing his family members and his lawyers and without fulfilling last wishes of a dying person. It is a matter of more concern that even the last rites were not allowed to perform and he was buried in the Tihar jail premises itself. The attitude of government of India towards Afzal Guru reflects how the state behaves with Kashmiri people. Afzal Guru became the target of Indian state because he was a Muslim and belonged to Kashmir valley.

    Civil Liberties believe that Afzal Guru was an innocent person and became the victim of Indian agencies. The mystery of Parliament attack is not solved even today. Because those who attacked Parliament their identities are not known till now, in fact the government has not revealed their identities. That time, Advani who was Home Minister had said that by faces the attackers look like Pakistanis. In fact Advani also looks like Pakistani because he has born in Pakistan. If a person looking like Pakistani becomes terrorist then what about Advani!

    But Afzal Guru was not a Pakistani, and there is no clear evidence that he was involved in the attack on Parliament except that he was a Kashmiri and a Muslim. Even Supreme Court Bench held that “The collective conscience of the society will be satisfied only if the death penalty is awarded to Afzal Guru.” Civil Liberties want to clear that Judgments cannot be delivered on the basis of ‘collective conscience’ and on the basis of ‘faith of the majority community’. If at all the judgments are delivered on the basis of such things, then there is no meaning of Judiciary and the judicial procedure system will collapse completely.

    Civil Liberties express grave concern that when the President had rejected the clemency of Afzal Guru, then he had right to judicial review of this rejection. But neither was he informed of rejection of mercy petition nor his family and lawyers were informed about it. Instead of informing of mercy petition rejection, he was informed that he is going to be hanged in the next morning.

    Today, it may be a great day for the government of India and Hindutva people of India but for the justice loving people and believers of the Constitution as well as for the civilized world, 9th February 2013 is a Black Day, when an innocent Afzal Guru was brutally murdered by the government of India in the name of people of India, just trying to show concern about the security of Indians.

    Civil Liberties also want to clear that there is a big conspiracy behind the hanging of Afzal Guru. There is a political game behind it. The present Congress government wants to go to early elections on the cold blooded murder of Ajmal Amer Kasab and Afzal Guru to capture the votes from the grip of Hindutva leaders as Rajiv Gandhi had done by opening the locks of Babri Masjid and allowed to perform Shila Nyas. Congress Party wants to come to power on the blood of Humans which is the old practice of Hindutva mythology.

    Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee believes that execution or capital punishment is an inhuman act and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of United Nations is against the capital punishment. Very recently the United Nations assembled to abolish the capital punishment all over the world but unfortunately at this moment, India hanged a person who did not get fair chance to self defense.

    This committee demands to the government of India to abolish the death penalty and follow the International standards of justice and fair trial for all. Also demands the government of India to stop murdering of people in the name of idea of India.

    One thing should be clear that by hanging Afzal Guru, the mystery of Parliament attack does not solve, but it becomes more complicated more suspicious and it can also be said that the government of India instead of solving the case is trying maximum to dissolve it. It is largely believed that the Parliament attack case is not investigated properly and the role of then government and its agencies is highly suspicious. Still people believe that the BJP led government is behind the attack to save its government from falling and gain sympathy of majority community.

    Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee express solidarity with the family of Afzal Guru and also with the people of Kashmir, and their just demand of right self determination.

  5. Aditya permalink
    February 10, 2013 9:30 PM

    It is a matter of concern and worry that the blood-thirsty nation is celebrating a disgusting show of power by this fascist government. People are being slaughtered secretly, just like the British did in India. A series of cold blooded, secret, inhuman executions have started. Prisoners are being picked up one by one, secretly slaughtered and the carcass held up by its legs for everyone to see. These executions are not merely political decisions, they are machiavellian assertions of monarchy. This is the Congress resorting to public butchery in order to exhibit its power, its control over its subjects (You cannot be called a citizen when one like you is being denied basic human rights and inhumanly killed in your name). They have written the words on the sky with blood – written that they are the god who dictates our fate. To instil fear, to drive home the idea that our life and death is in their hands. Hitler’s Germany was a torture house, so was Ghasiram’s Maratha. Those monarchs used the spectacle of suffering to instil fear. Congress’s India is a butcher house, with skinned carcasses hanging on hooks for us to see. This is their way of establishing dictatorship.

Trackbacks

  1. My Problem with the Hanging of Afzal Guru « The Revolution Breathes Fire
  2. Death Penalty – an agenda for abolition: Yug Mohit Chaudhry « Kafila
  3. PUCL- JP Memorial Lecture – New Social Movements, New Perspectives | kracktivist

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