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Peaceful Protest Against Afzal Guru’s Execution at Jantar Mantar Broken Up by Right Wing Goons and Delhi Police

February 9, 2013

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A small group of citizens, mainly young people from different universities in Delhi, and people associated with civil rights groups and initiatives, had gathered at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi this afternoon at 1:00 pm to express their protest against the execution by hanging of Afzal Guru at 8:00 am this morning in Tihar Prison.

The protest was dignified and entirely peaceful. It was interrupted suddenly when a large mob gathered and began heckling the protestors. I was present there, and I clearly heard this mob of young men hurl, unprintable abuses at the men and women who were peacefully protesting against the execution of Afzal Guru. Some of them wore saffron scarves that clearly identified them as being the storm troopers of the far right. They repeatedly chanted violent and incendiary slogans which included the following – “shoot them all”, “kill the traitors”. These alternated with patriotic chants. I have never seen a more nakedly bloodthirsty exhibition of the far right wing version of Indian nationalism on the streets of Delhi. The mob made threatening gestures and advanced towards the line of protestors.

I could see several of the young women and men, some, but by no means all of them visibly Kashmiri, back up against the wall at one edge of the Jantar Mantar space. Some of tried to come between the young protestors and the aggressive wall, and I saw one of my friends being hit severely in the groin. The police, which was present in large numbers, stood by and watched. It would not be wrong to say that they were egging on the mob. Because the mob clearly understood that the police would not prevent them as they advanced to assault the protestors. Some of the young men from the protestors group tried to step forward, mainly to shield the young girls and the one middle aged woman among them, and they were severely beaten up. The media too – both television and print – was present in large numbers, and was recording everything.

Then, at a certain time, the police bore down on those protesting against Agzal Guru’s hanging. And dragged them physically, using considerable force, to a waiting police bus. They were then taken to the Mandir Marg police station. I witnessed the force that the police used against the protestors, and I also witnessed the fact that not even one person from the aggressive mob that had tried to assault the protestors was in any way obstructed by the police. Delhi Police did a repeat performance of what it had done just a few days ago (on the 6th of February) at Delhi University, where it assaulted the young students who were protesting against the fascist Modi’s presence at the University, and it shielded the right wing hoodlums who had tried to intimidate and attack the protestors.

Eventually, several people, including lawyers, professors, teachers, filmmakers, civil rights activists went to the Mandir Marg police station to see that the detained protestors would come to no harm. After a few hours, and after their names and addresses were recorded by the police, the protestors (- the 21 people who had been taken to Mandir Marg police station) were let off.

It is a very sad day when we come to realize that those protesting peacefully against a gross miscarriage of justice are dispersed held (however briefly) by the police, while those who intimidate and make threats of violence are allowed to have a field day. The conduct of Delhi Police, be it in the course of the protests against sexual violence, during the protest against Modi at Delhi University, or today, at Jantar Mantar – points to a hardening, and a tacit support by police personnel for the forces of fascism. And this is the situation when Narendra Modi is not yet in power in Delhi.

The execution of Afzal Guru for his alleged involvement in the 13 December ‘Attack on the Indian Parliament’ is a gross miscarriage of justice. My case is not to assert Afzal Guru’s innocence or guilt, but to insist that due process was not followed diligently in his trial, and that he was denied adequate legal representation.

Those interested may read an earlier essay by me on this subject, but I do want to take this opportunity to quote that essay, if only to make a point that I feel needs to be made urgently at this hour.

“…we do need a reminder (and that is why I have no hesitation in being monotonously repetitive about this) of the fact that Afzal’s alleged involvement in the planning of this attack is the only reason why he is being sentenced to die. Unlike, other instances of the award of capital punishment, the so called ‘rarest of the rare’ (as if the matter of weighing human life and death were somehow like ordering steak at a bespoke restaurant), the accused are likely to be people who have actually killed other people in particularly heinous ways, Afzal is accused only of being an an actor in a conspiracy, a cog in the wheel of terror. His was not a hand that held a gun on that day. He fired no shots, killed no one. He was caught because his phone number was in the phone directory in one of the mobile phones found on the person of the dead terrorists. In a letter written to his Supreme Court defence lawyer, Afzal points out that his mobile phone has numbers of STF personnel, and the same logic by which he is implicated in the conspiracy of December 13 should logically lead to an investigation of the STF personnel’s role in the event.

If that is so, then it would be natural for us to expect that all leads as to who else may be implicated in this conspiracy would have to be exhausted before any one of the conspirators or actors (in this case Afzal) is given the ultimate punishment. We know that Afzal Guru did not have adequate legal representation in the course of his trial, but we also know that he made statements that the court took note of, in the sense that they are on the court record, which include statements that implicate officers of the Special Task Force in Jammu and Kashmir. These are public documents, and they have been meticulously collated in NIrmalangshu Mukherjee’s courageous and disturbing book on the December 13 case – (December 13: Terror over Democracy. Published by Bibliophile South Asia, New Delhi. 2005). This book is available at any good bookship in Delhi, and I am amazed that the media has not in fact made more of this story than it has…”

[For more details of why Mohammad Afzal should not die, also see Nirmalangshu Mukherjee’s excellent summary of the main arguments outlined in his book in – ‘Should Mohammad Afzal die?’, The Economic and Political Weekly, September 17, 2005.

Also see – ‘Framing Geelani, Hanging Afzal : Patriotism in the Time of Terror’ by Nandita Haksar, Promilla & Co. Publishers, New Delhi,2007 and ‘The Afzal Petition : A Quest for Justice, Promilla & Co. Publishers, New Delhi,2007.

For a general background on the 13 December Case – see – ’13 December : A Reader’ Edited by Arundhati Roy, Penguin Books India, New Delhi ]

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Pritam Singh permalink
    February 9, 2013 7:35 PM

    Very very sad and worrying developments.

  2. juned permalink
    February 9, 2013 7:43 PM

    i was present in Delhi university protest against Modi. i have been visit all the resettlement colony in Ahemdabad. there is no basic amenities available in these colonies. all the times Delhi police is support fully to the youth wing of so called BJP party as well as Sang people.

  3. anonymous indian permalink
    February 9, 2013 7:46 PM

    Did these protestors ever protest about the Kashmiri Pandits who were systematically ethnically cleansed in 1990?? The Kashmiri Pandits who have been thrown out of their homeland have had to organize by themselves to bring to the notice of the world of their plight.

  4. indian permalink
    February 9, 2013 7:51 PM

    By this argument Hafiz Saeed was only a conspirator and so should be forgiven for 26/11 like Afzal Guru.

  5. Indian permalink
    February 9, 2013 7:58 PM

    I don’t find it surprising in the least bit. The Police are clearly biased against the Muslims, and we don’t have to look at this protest today. It has become a matter of fact, that if I sport my identity, I will be labelled a traitor in no time, no matter what I believe in. I feel ashamed to be born in this sham democracy. Freedom of Expression is only meant to deride Islam and Muslims in every possible way. the oppressed don’t stand a chance to voice their opinion. Ever.

    Whatever happened to the Electronic media which was crying foul over the suppression of ‘free speech’ because one Mr Rushdie was not allowed to land up in Kolkata. Where were you today, Mr Arnab Goswami? Shame!! The likes of Barkha Dutt seem to be just another cog in the wheel today. If you have been championing the right of Freedom of Speech and Expression, this should have been all over the news today. Shameful Conduct!!

  6. J.S .Sidhu permalink
    February 9, 2013 8:17 PM

    In Afzal’s execution Congress has entered into a competitive Hindutava arena vis-a-vis BJP to outwit latter’s Kubh Mela’s Hindu chauvinistic trappings. Both Congress and BJP are out to please the majority community before the coming Parliament elections to the chagrin of already bullied minorities.

  7. imran permalink
    February 9, 2013 9:12 PM

    what a shame, is this a democracy, or rapistsan or hangistan,,,,,,, people who raped and killed thousands in gujrat, and other riots, soldiers who killed one lac people and raped thousands in kashmir, hundreds of time in 90s fired on protesters like ajmal kasab did, where they ever punished ?

  8. Sahil permalink
    February 9, 2013 9:21 PM

    If only phone call or phone number in the mobile hand set would have been the reason, i suppose then all other accused including Gilani too would have been the hanged (the phone call were made on their numbers too).I think we r holding back and concealing the facts.

  9. Mahvish Hamid permalink
    February 9, 2013 9:38 PM

    Reblogged this on Kashmir- My isolated existence.

  10. February 9, 2013 9:57 PM

    Why does the Mainstream Media not show this.. When a group of people take up a position which goes against the conventional societal views – what recourse can they take to ensure their voices are getting heard. Is writing a post on a blog the only solution. Are we really living in a democracy?

  11. February 9, 2013 10:44 PM

    Well done police. If the Sangh parivar elements are a threat, then these left-wing lunatics are also a threat to Indian democracy.

  12. February 9, 2013 11:29 PM

    Bajrang dal done good things…..

    These ppl are traitor including you …

    why you corrupt new channel not against the protest done by people at jantarmantar against rape case…

    You sympathy is only for muslim specially those muslim who attacked parliament.. i wish some terrorist attacked to india and first they kill news chanell like u…

    • Tejaswi permalink
      February 10, 2013 7:05 AM

      - As humble traitor I ask you thanku. You wise Bajrang Dal Makhni make good pointedly. Why this corrupt new channel not against protest? –
      Beats me, especially since the rape must have been a good thing according to you. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with your need to see terrorists “attacked to India” and if they kill news channels (Hahahaha) I would be delighted, probably a lot more than you. Thank you for your considerate thoughts. It is indeed liberating to see more people like you coming out of the woodwork. India needs more of your kind, not us “traitor ppl”

  13. Sadhana permalink
    February 10, 2013 1:41 AM

    Indians are stuck between violent goons on many sides. Selective outrage is not credible and not going to get them out from in between.

  14. True indian permalink
    February 10, 2013 1:43 AM

    Police is doing their job to tackle the protestors ,worst has been done with those r@pe protestors and at ramlila ground when water cannons and stick were used ,… and the people who are talking about humanity here never care when kashmiri pundits driven out ,nor any news paper is reporting .

  15. February 10, 2013 1:45 AM

    Handwaving apart,go to brasstacks. From Supreme court Judgment read sec 18 http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1769219/ &listen to Afzal’s taped interview http://youtu.be/9zJcFO8VvqA though legal niceties can be questioned,wasn’t Afzal guilty for (a) Buying explosives (b) renting accommodation (c) conspiring . Are all the witnesses lying? Or is supreme court of india lying?

  16. mohit permalink
    February 10, 2013 1:49 AM

    strange you wrote about how right wing heckling you but you only able to gather pics of police taking you in custody .

  17. Vivek permalink
    February 11, 2013 10:59 AM

    I agree with first part of your article. But in the second part, when you write against the execution of Afzal Guru:
    1. “…we do need a reminder (and that is why I have no hesitation in being monotonously repetitive about this) of the fact that Afzal’s alleged involvement in the planning of this attack is the only reason why he is being sentenced to die.”

    2. “the accused are likely to be people who have actually killed other people in particularly heinous ways”

    3.”Afzal is accused only of being an an actor in a conspiracy, a cog in the wheel of terror.”

    4. “His was not a hand that held a gun on that day. He fired no shots, killed no one.”

    5. “He was caught because his phone number was in the phone directory in one of the mobile phones found on the person of the dead terrorists.”
    ————————————————————————————————————————
    A tragic event is a chain of critical events and some links play a vital role in the execution of such events.

    And when you say, it was not Afzal’s had that held a gun on that day. He fired no shots, killed no one. It doesn’t seem logical to me. In the interview below, he confessed that he was the planner behind Parliament Attack.

    1. If we go by your arguments, then it will be like to say if a building/bridge collapses (because of poor design) then the laborers who build that building/bridge are more responsible for that mishap than the architect who designed the blueprint.

    2. There are many air crash incidents that happen because of ATC faults (improper planning). So, by your arguments because ATC was not the one who “held” the control column in the cockpit so he/she is less responsible for the tragic event as he/she has not “actually” killed the people on-board.

    • ishfaq ahmad permalink
      March 18, 2013 2:40 PM

      afzal guru was innocient, kashmiri knows even indian people knows as well,if any body even a child read the story how he was involved.they can understand the real situation.but people of india dont want to listen.afzal guru said 100 times the names of sp,s dsp,s who were involved. even if the governmentwill check the phone calls of afzal guru.they will know the truth but they dont do this,it means govtis himself involved.we kashmiri were not against hanging.terrosist should hang till death,but the real terrorist not innocient peoples.real terrorist who were behind parliament attack r free.indian people,please dont satisfy ur self that u have hanged a terrorist,u have murdered an innocient man.
      now come to president shinde,he says according to jail manual body of afzal guru will not return to his family.but i wantto ask him according to jail manualwhy u dont give last changeto meet his family.and why on ajmal kasabs hanging u told pakistan to take his body when pak was refusing to take it,and u waited five days for burried his body.why this double standard.there are so many questions which has no ansew for indian government

  18. XYZ2 permalink
    February 19, 2013 3:18 PM

    “Afzal Guru was executed for “his crimes” (which he had confessed) and not for “his identity”.
    “In the interview below, he confessed that he was the planner behind Parliament Attack.”

    Confessions that is inadmissible in a court of law and could have been extracted by blackmailing.

  19. XYZ2 permalink
    February 19, 2013 3:21 PM

    @vijay & vivek

    if u believe in taped confessions, you should also be demanding death sentence for Sarabjit Singh.
    after afzal’s hanging, it can be said that paki have treated him much better. they also must be giving him makke di roti and sarson da saag – that too for more than 20 years now.

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  1. Do We Have A Right To A Peaceful Protest? : Warisha Farasat « Kafila

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