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Some questions for comrade Karat on the killing of Afzal Guru: Satya Sivaraman and Manisha Sethi

February 11, 2013

Guest post by SATYA SIVARAMAN and MANISHA SETHI

Shri Prakash Karat,

General Secretary,

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Dear Comrade,

Afzal Guru was hanged yesterday in utter secrecy, denied in his last moments the right to meet his wife and children one final time. Denied to him also was the ultimate judicial resort, due to every condemned convict after his/her mercy petition has been rejected.

The entire legal proceedings against Afzal were shot through with contradictions, fabrications and travesties of legal procedure. The Supreme Court bench that finally sentenced him to death did so to ‘appease the national conscience’ despite inadequate evidence of his role in the Parliament attack case.   

And yet this is what your colleague in the Polit Bureau Sitaram Yechury had to say to the media on this issue, I think, the law of the land with all its provisions has finally been completed as far as the Afzal Guru case and the attack on the Indian Parliament is concerned. The issue which had been lingering for the past 11 years has finally completed its due course.”

‘Law of the land’ has ‘completed its due course’? Is this the official stand of the CPI(M)  on the Afzal Guru case? Or is it just Com. Yechury trying to ‘appease the national conscience’ and joining the UPA in harnessing the ‘Hindu vote’?

Surely you and your colleagues in the Polit Bureau have heard that Afzal was unrepresented from the time of his arrest till he made his alleged ‘confession? You may have also perhaps heard of the letter that Afzal wrote to the Judge pleading he had no faith in the lawyer appointed for him by the Court, asking to be represented by any from a list of four lawyers he named. The Court records show that two of these lawyers refused to represent him but there is no information whether the other two on the list were even ever asked.

A lawyer, who had never met Afzal, admitted documents in court incriminating him. Or has your Polit Bureau been watching too many telecasts of his ‘confession’ -  considered inadmissible in any court of law – as damning evidence of his guilt?

But never mind. Lack of legal representation for your Party does not seem too major an obstacle in implementing the ‘due course of law’. When elections are looming on the horizon, and your Party’s mass base is dwindling, a little injustice – like the murder of an innocent man- does not matter of course.

If the Congress is fast becoming the B Team of the communal Hindutva brigade should the CPI (M) try to become the C Team? Has your Party learnt nothing from the defeats it has suffered due to similar unprincipled stands it has taken in the past? Are we being completely delusional in expecting a Party named with grand terms like ‘Communist’ and ‘Marxist’ to take a stand different from that of political formations taking the nation fast forward towards all out Fascism?

Sincerely,

Satya Sivaraman
Manisha Sethi

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2013 12:33 PM

    Sitaram yechuri has also lost his conscience too and forgot the party policies.

  2. Harshad permalink
    February 11, 2013 1:37 PM

    Suddenly all those who feel an injustice has been done have become vocal. Is questionong the courts is in vogue? Of late it appears that we like to excercise our freedom by criticising courts. I can understand this happening in cse of lower courts. But if we start we are more learned and pricipled than the Supreme Court judges then God save our country. And please, I am not CPM sympathiser but a common man who believes that our judicial system does owrk albeit slowly. We have ourselves compromised pillars of our democaracy and take pride in taking such sensational stand without due thought for the consequences.

    • February 11, 2013 6:03 PM

      Harshad, for your information you should know that it was the same Supreme Court of India who had cleared Afzal of all charges, and had acquitted him under POTA. I don’t think people at large doubt the credibility of the Supreme Court – it is the politicisation of justice that we have a problem with.
      The Constitution of India is the supreme law of the land, and it was a defeat for our Constitution at Afzal was hanged without legal representation, without due process of law and without a chance to even see his family for the last time.
      I suggest you read the letter Afzal’s wife had written to the government, published in Outlook 2005.

    • seeta permalink
      February 12, 2013 4:23 PM

      hahahhahahaha.
      when else, if not when one feels injustice has been committed is the time to speak?
      you mean our justice system works like when it lets off modi for ‘circumstantial’ evidence in case of thousands of deaths but not a kashmiri surrendered militant who was forced to sign his confessions under threat of physical harm to his family by the police? you mean a justice system that says that an upper caste cannot have raped an untouchable because said victim is untouchable? you mean the justice given to hundreds of those that are too poor/downtrodden/weak to afford justice?
      please read a little more of even journalistic reports on afzal guru before pledging your complete and total surrender to the judgement of the supreme court.
      what is a bigger compromising of democracy than to refuse to hold those in power accountable in the name of an unimaginative and dead sort of patriotism or deference to the so called learning and principles of judges!

  3. Linus permalink
    February 11, 2013 2:22 PM

    How can you decide if Afzal Guru was innocent ? Just because he was not allowed a lawyer of his choice does not mean he was innocent. He was arrested and tried because he was involved in some way. No doubt that the hanging was for political reasons. But to say that he was innocent is also not correct. Have you actually gone through each every evidence presented and studied every proceedings of the courts before making such a statement. Misinterpreting the supreme court statement is also wrong. The court made the statement in the context of awarding of the “death penalty” to the criminal and not because of lack of evidence.

  4. Biju permalink
    February 11, 2013 3:55 PM

    The state did the mistake in Afzal’s case considering the timing and secrecy…in a similar way it is killing Irom Sharmila also inch by inch in the name of AFSPA

  5. February 12, 2013 1:07 AM

    Let me point out a few inconsistencies in your writing by first declaring that: 1. I think the timing of Guru’s execution was for political reasons, and 2. It isn’t nice to not have a death-row convict’s family informed about his execution, but I believe the govt may have had reasons to delay this because of reasons not known to me.

    Nevertheless, I have to point out a few things that amuses me:
    1. “The entire legal proceedings against Afzal were shot through with contradictions, fabrications and travesties of legal procedure.”
    These are big words, and without the evidence of contradictions, fabrications, and travesties as you suggest, they sound very hollow and motivated to me. if you have the evidence to support your claims that Guru was not given a fair trial, then this is the place to put it on record.

    2. “despite inadequate evidence of his role in the Parliament attack case”
    Inadequate evidence was the case made for SAR Geelani because of which he’s acquitted. The Supreme Court, in the case of Guru, has taken cognisance of a number of damning evidences, such as his signature on the post mortem report of the Parliament attackers, the fact that one of these terrorists called Guru up minutes before the attack, the fact that the phone was bought and given to them by Guru, the fact that Guru had carried out surveillance for these men and sheltered them, the fact that Guru had received monetary compensation from them… and the list goes on.

    In fact, the evidence against Guru was strong enough for the Supreme Court to pronounce the damning judgement in the same spirit that it acquitted Geelani of his charges, not because he wasn’t implicated, but because of technical errors in the evidence-gathering process.

    I’m writing this down because I want to make sure that if you publish my comment, your readers would get a balanced view of things which you seem not intent to portray.

    3. Guru himself admitted that the four lawyers he pleaded for denied to represent him. Since I have no axe to grind with either you or Guru, I may well concede the point.

    However, by the same logic (that is the veracity of Guru’s inetrviews/admissions) would you also concede the point that Guru never ever denied, nor apologised, nor showed solidarity for those innocent lives lost in the Parliament attacks?

    What, according to you, should be the state’s response to this according to the law of the land?

    4. “a little injustice – like the murder of an innocent man- does not matter of course.”
    I thought the legal premise was “innocent until proven guilty”. I double checked and find that you’re pronouncing the man innocent AFTER he’s been proven guilty. That’s admirable. Pray tell me the source of this sublime sanction you give yourself.

    5. “If the Congress is fast becoming the B Team of the communal Hindutva brigade should the CPI (M) try to become the C Team?”
    So that’s your vantage point – the sublime sanction – that allows you to call anybody by any name if they don’t happen to agree with your communist cabalistic views.

    By that one statement you’re giving away more than you’d like – because you’re not just parroting your foolish “communal” propaganda against the cause of Hindutva, but also colouring the execution of the nation’s enemy in communal tones.

    And for what? Do you, with due respect to your intelligence, want people to believe that a party which engages with communal fringe forces like the MIM is secular (your B team), a party that declares reservations for Muslims just before elections is secular (your C team), and a party that openly endorses the cause of 80% of the population is communal?

    A very revealing and amusing write-up indeed. I’m going to visit kafila again!

    • February 13, 2013 10:04 AM

      One would have wished for some investigative work on this, especially as this bears potential for shaping the deceased as ‘Afzal Garu’ (a post-fix ascribed as honorific…you know, the (vernacular)equivalent

      Re MIM/IUML, one would do well to go beyond identities and self understandings as merely autonomous assertions; in contexts like these, responses could become reciprocal and manipulable (from group experiences, perceptions of ‘the others’ attitudes/dispositions, ongoing mobility processes/’cultural decline’ etc). Particular histories and their abstractions come to be preferred/diffused and even deployed by an astute politics (of all concerned)

      But it seems we must depend on the headlines/media lines, rather than be supplied by (nuanced) social science perspectives that attempt to read between those lines (and avoid indignation from those purporting to speak for the (monolithic) 80%

      • February 13, 2013 3:31 PM

        Not sure what the said social science perspective on the non-monolithic nature of the 80% referred to would be… especially factoring in “cultural decline”, “group experiences”, etc. etc. I mean, where would you draw a stop and what time, range of data, composition of representation would you use to take a position other than the one the media portrays.

        I can agree with you inasmuch as the method of arriving at a conclusion should be as exposed (if not more) as the conclusion itself. And none of it would be feasible without the data that I don’t have, and presume you, and the writers of this post don’t either.

        I guess then we’re better off saying that bad criticism is a poor foil for questioning or debunking what might be bad or questionable media ethics and justice.

  6. February 15, 2013 11:33 PM

    I absolutely agree with you and condemn all those who were a party to this judicially sanctioned murder of an innocent man. My heart bleeds for him and his family. Are we returning to cave age that an innocent man’s life has to be sacrificed to satisfy the collective conciousness of people. I am ashamed to be part of a nation where people who have no knowledge of Afzal’s case are shouting patriotism at his tragic hanging.

    • February 17, 2013 4:37 PM

      I’m afraid you’ve not understood me my friend. Allow me to reiterate that two wrongs do not make a right; nevertheless, as a response to this kind of biased perspective (motivated?) of events, I would like to present a contrast.

      Kehar Singh, one of the accused in the case of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, was charged of criminal conspiracy and awarded the death penalty. A telling parallel, I should say, since Singh too was executed in Tihar. Interestingly, none of the Kafila writers seem to want to refer to this – or the fact that the perpetrators of the anti-Sikh riots and genocide that followed thence has yet not been punished. You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kehar_Singh

      More ecently, the Bangladeshi courts and government declared a mitigated sentence for Abdul Quader Mollah, one of the leaders of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e- Islami (an Islamist fundamentalist party). Mollah was charged with cohorting with the then Pakistani army in the systematic murder, rape, and other atrocities on many people, including women and children. (Millions of people, mostly minority Hindus, were exterminated during the 1971 war of independence. Varying estimates of the number of Hindus killed during this genocide put the number at 1.5 to 2.4 million.) The sentence was considered too flimsy by large numbers of people, who began flocking the Shahbag district to demand capital punishment for Mollah. A blogger, Rajib Haider, was killed for his online criticism of Jamaat-e-Islami. You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Shahbag_Protest
      And here: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201302160018-0022552

      Closer home, the systematic killing and routing of the Kashmiri Pandits are largely ignored by the so-called secularists. Read about it here: http://kashmirblogs.wordpress.com/genocide-of-kashmiri-pandits/
      And here: http://www.kashmir-information.com/history/genocide.html

      Same goes for the indiscriminate killing of the Kashmiri sarpanches (most of them are Muslims by the way) who agree to participate in the electoral system in an effort to bring normalcy back to the valley.

      My point is: It is abominable of anyone to condone the deliberate killing of innocents. For that matter, I’m not too fond of capital punishment either. However, bleeding hearts who write about Muslim persecution in India and choose to remain silent about Hindus being killed and persecuted in their own country – and raped, tortured and murdered in the Islamic theocracies in our neighbouring countries – sound extremely fishy to me. This is not secularism. This is plain moral chicanery.

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