Four statements on the execution of Afzal Guru
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.
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.
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
Aftab Alam, DU
Peggy Mohan, Linguist and author
Meera Ahmad, Anthropologist
Mukul Dube, Writer-Editor
Iqbal Ahmad, Journalist
Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM
Mona Das, DU
Sadiq Naqvi, Journalist
Prashanto Chandra Sen
Mirtyunjay, Student for Resistance
Asad Ashraf, jamia millia islamia
Mayur Suresh, Advocate
G Anamda Selam, Advocate
Daanish Hussain, actor
Shalini Gera, Activist
G. Venkatesan, CHRI
Mary Abraham, Ambedkar University
P C Sen
Kusum Lata, SFR
Jitendra Kumar, JNU
S. Sethu Mahendran
Kathipavan. N, DU
K.S.M. Vimal Kanth
Sawmiya Rajaran, JNU
Manisha Pandey, Journalist
Shahnawaz Malik, Journalist
G. S. Anuj Kumar