Reality Check India

An unsophisticated state Vs Mohd Afzal

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 8, 2006

afzal.JPG

There is a whole lot of debate going on in the blogosphere about the convicted terrorist Mohammed Afzal. As with so many other issues, the Indian blogosphere is light years ahead of the mainstream media in terms of analysis – even without having the same access to the corridors of power.

The bottomline is that we are increasingly becoming an unsophisticated state. We unable to see through deviousness nor communicate it when we do.  How quickly the same newspapers who urged for a harsh punishment for the perpetrators have now forgotten their own editorial opinions ? Just for curiosity’s sake – I pulled up the archives of newspapers dated Dec 14, 2001 – the day after the terrorists struck.

… the five militants who stormed the Parliament complex have been killed, they could not have perpetrated this outrage without the support of a well-knit organisation. It is vital that those responsible for investigating the attack determine the identity of the group and come down both quickly and heavily on it. A failure to do so will only heighten the vulnerability of a nation which has been rudely shaken by the attack…

The Hindu Dec 14, 2001 Read full edit here

We wonder what does “come down heavily” mean to the Hindu ?

We are so unsophisticated that we cant even place a check on the most obvious : “Mohammed Afzal is not asking for clemency – others are asking for him on his behalf”

To the village idiot, this small detail means nothing. Does it really matter whether Afzal or his wife asks for clemency ? Probably not even worth writing a story on, right ?

WRONG! This is the core of the issue. 

You see Mohd Afzal is a hardcore jihadi, this is self-evident from his refusal to ask for clemency himself. A jihadi will never cry and ask for mercy that too from a kufir state like India. Yet, they will make political hay by asking others to lobby on his behalf and thus preserving his violent terrorist holy warrior image. Our media will faithfully carry his views that “I have lost faith in Indian justice” and so forth. The flip side is he and his followers can trash talk India, its judicial framework, its police, its government, and how he is being executed because he is a Kashmiri. Our media will faithfully broadcast the rantings of a convicted terrorist on death row.

Even a moderately sophisticated government would first insist on a WRITTEN clemency note from Afzal himself and a VIDEO RECORDED clemency petition.  No wife(s), minor sons,cousins, well wishers, co-accused, or politicians.  Just insist on this and see how the equations change.

Blogosphere roundup:

  • Most bloggers are confused by their opposition to the death penalty vis-a-vis the clemecy petition. See, if there was no death penalty – we would have no clemecy petition, would we ?.  Please state your arguments for a total ban on the death penalty independent of Mohammed Afzals case.  Polite Indian on death penalty,
  • Bloggers believe the people who discredit our judiciary and weaken our state. If he did not get adequate legal help, then Arundhati Roy, Nandhhita Haksar, congress party (except Digvijay Singh), J&K politicians, JKLF leadership – should have pooled in money and setup a “Save Afzal Fund” and arranged for legal help. Dont worry, there are enough lawyers in India who will defend anything for money! You cant clam up and come to the surface after the trial is over and three courts have pronounced him guilty. Why didnt Nanditha Haksar a so called “civil rights activist and closely associated with the rights of defendents in the Parliament attack case” tell us about this earlier ? Why did she not put together a “Save  Afzal Fund” ? These kinds of funds are setup in the USA for many defendents fighting the death sentence.  The irony is that Nandita herself is a leading Supreme Court lawyer – why was she not able to clear him in court ? Every convict will claim that the courts suck and every acquit will say the court system rocks. This dont mean nothing.  Anoop Saha
  • They are neither wrong nor right, they are just against some people. In stunning displays of naivete they will oppose an issue just based on who supports it.   Dilip at Other India , Shivam Vij

To sum up: Reality Checks position on this issue.

  1. The clemency petition has to come from Afzal directly. This is a must to avoid granting clemency to a remorseless killer. You cannot and must not establish a precedent here. 
  2. The state must adopt a scheming course of Chanakyagiri here, dont be afraid of being evil and cunning when dealing with these people. 
  3. If you can discredit Jihadism and extract assurances and statements of remorse from the various terrorist supporters of Afzal – AND – if you are sophisicated enough to play the media and appear to be a benevolent state who granted mercy on a terrorist who has himself discredited the jihad concept – then by all means grant the clemency. The gains must be immediate and obvious – the bulk of the terrorist outfits and people like Geelani must stand discredited and the state must stand as a benevolent but strong master to a killer who has openly expressed remorse for his actions – and who has openly denounced the concept of Jihad.
  4. If we cant pull off (3), then please dont interfere with the law. Let it run its course and at least ensure justice is delivered to the families of the six brave men who defended the soul of our democracy one fine December morning five years ago.

Thanks for listening.

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70 Responses

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  1. Apollo said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:47 am

    Couldn’t agree u with more RC. But it is increasingly clear that it is not because of stupidity or naivete that the media is rooting for the other side. It is very deliberate. it is a worldwide trend that leftists are increasingly siding with islamic terrorists. pls read littlegreenfootballs.com and biased-bbc.blogspot.com and eureferendum.blogspot.com.

  2. Sharique said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:52 am

    Interesting contrast between an unsophisticated and sophisticated state. I agree when you say that there is no point in the clemency if the accused himself doesn’t insist.
    BTW don’t start bitching about the blogsphere 😛

  3. atlantean said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:30 am

    “The state must adopt a scheming course of Chanakyagiri here, dont be afraid of being evil and cunning when dealing with these people. ”

    Agree COMPLETELY! Some birdbrains are making this an “evil shouldnt be reciprocated with evil” and “capital punishment is evil” issue. Giving punishment to a demon is NOT evil at all!

  4. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:34 am

    Some well known bloggers are funny people. They are neither wrong nor right, they are just against some people. In stunning displays of naivete they will oppose an issue just based on who supports it. For example: they will also not hesitate to use tear jerking stories of oppression to support policies that in fact benefit someone else. The only reason for that is, if they oppose a certain state policy it would put them squarely on the same side as a certain group and that is a worse than kryptonite.

    RCI, you are getting more and more derogatory by the day. Did you even read my post, respond to it? My point is that no one should ever be hanged.

  5. realitycheck said, on October 8, 2006 at 8:11 am

    Shivam,

    I am not being derogatory at all. It was just an observation. In any case, I fixed the paragraph because it took the focus away from the main theme of the post.

    If you are totally against the death penalty even for the most heinous of crimes, then you have a fair position. This is along the lines of what our friend Polite Indian has written.

    If you are against all death penalty, then do not focus on the Afzal issue by talking about the investigation or the judicial proceedings. It means nothing because you are saying that “even if Afzal is guilty as sin, he or anyone else should not be hanged”. There is no point trash talking our justice system and brave police forces.

    This case cannot be used as a backdrop for an argument against the death penalty. A better case might be a rape/murder where startling exonerating evidence such as DNA mismatch comes to light after the capital verdict.

    My own position on the death penalty:

    Every culture is different, we need to judge for ourselves what value can be placed on the death penalty as a deterrent in the Indian context.

    I dont want to get into that since I dont think Afzals case is the right backdrop for that discussion.

  6. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    You are strange, good sire. Polite Indian links to my post and quotes from it to make his point. Do you even read posts?

    So I should not use Afzal’s punishment to make an arguyment against death penalty. I suppose I should use the jhatka/halal divide to make my case.

    If the judgement that wants to hang Afzal is flawed, disputed, why should it not be a ground to defend Afzal? In short, why can’t I argue against hanging Afzal? What sort of intellectual fundamentalism is this?

  7. Polite Indian said, on October 8, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    Reality Check,

    No doubt you make sense. I am against the death penalty in general as you correctly observed. It would be interesting to see a discussion on the death penalty in the Indian context.

  8. Polite Indian said, on October 8, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    Shivam,

    I linked to your post to highlight this argument from my post

    It leaves no room for verdict reversal in case proof of innocence appear later on. Think about this for a moment…Is any judiciary in the world infalliable?

    I think any case could be used to discuss the relevance of Death penalty. Whether Afzal or no Afzal.

    Shivam is perfectly justified in voicing his views. If it is Afzals case that brings that opportunity then so be it.

  9. realitycheck said, on October 8, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    You are of course free to write what you want, what fun is it if everyone writes the same thing.

    Please tell us what is the exonerating evidence in Afzals case. The convict himself has not expressed any remorse and in fact has said that he would not appeal for clemency. In that case why is everyone so keen on letting him off the hook. This is not just a murder of 6 people but a dastardly act of a spectacular magnitude.

    I think Dhananjoy Chatterjees’ case might have been a better backdrop for this argument. He expressed deep remorse for his actions and wanted to repent in jail.

    As long as we have the death penalty in law, we cannot forgive a remorseless killer.

  10. Polite Indian said, on October 8, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    RealityCheck,

    Your stand is well apreciated and it is sad we didn’t have this discussion during Dhananjoy’s case. But just that it didn’t happen then it shouldn’t happen now, is no good reason.

    I don’t think anybody is claiming Afzal being innocent. What I and a few others are questioning is capital punishment as a form of punishment in general.

    As long as we have the death penalty in law, we cannot forgive a remorseless killer.

    Agreed, but what will it take to start talking about abolishing death penalty, if that is a desirable goal. At least few of us think that death penalty in general should go.

  11. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    I think Dhananjoy Chatterjees’ case might have been a better backdrop for this argument. He expressed deep remorse for his actions and wanted to repent in jail.

    There was indeed far more debate on capital punishment back then than there is in the Afzal Guru case:
    http://www.google.co.in/search?hs=Bob&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=%22Dhananjoy+Chatterjee%22&btnG=Search&meta=

    We hanged him. We mustn’t continue making mistakes. Some 20 mercy petitions lying with the President of India.

    As for the specifics of Afzal’s case, they are important, because, as the saying goes, justice must not only be done but also seem to be done.

    But RCI’s problem, and Atlantean’s, is that they are so abhorred by the idea of a jehadi – not just a terrorsit, but a jehadi seeking jannat – helping in the attack on no less than India’s Parliament to kill people – that they want him killed. What is the purpose of jurisprudence? Revenge? Lynch mob mentality?

  12. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    An excellent posy here: http://chinmayiarun.blogspot.com/2006/10/sacrificing-afzal.html

  13. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    This is the kinda stuff that happens in a society that institutionalises violence:

    Girl enacts hanging, dies

    RANAGHAT(WEST BENGAL), AUG. 21. A 12-year-old girl today paid with her life while trying to imitate the recent hanging of Dhanonjoy Chatterjee, convicted for rape and murder, at Paikpara here today.

    Manati Malakar, a Class VII student, died while play-acting the August 14 execution with her brother, Bitoo. Her parents were not present in the house when the incident took place. — UNI

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2004/08/22/stories/2004082202140900.htm

    And sorry for spamming you, my site is down!

  14. realitycheck said, on October 8, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    Shivam,

    Yes, your site has been down since the morning.

    I dont want to go into the specifics of the case either. I do not want to second guess our learned judges and our judicial processes. I trust their judgement.

    I have obviously not written this post clearly enought because my main point was that Afzal himself has not filed any clemency petition. This is too glaring to be missed and a hallmark of a jihadi attitude.

    We cannot, repeat cannot, bow down and hand out a clemency to a person who is defiant and abuses our country and its processes every chance he gets. Read his statements in court and his wifes letter – they just pour out stories of atrocities and project himself as representing thousands of Kashmiri disillusioned youth.

    Given such a defiant character who himself does not give a damn, we must not even entertain the prospect of clemency. It is kind of unfortunate the president met his family.

    A clemency may be considered if he openly expresses remorse and expresses sympathy to the family of the victims and disowns jihad. If he continues his diatribe against India, its judges, its brave security forces, and wants a jihadi terrorist martyr image, I am sure we can arrange for that as well.

    The choice is his.

  15. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    So your only problem is that Afzal himself has not asked for clemency, and your presumption that this is because of his ‘jehadi attitude’. Does that mean you are retracting your other points?

    But do you realise that we may be playing into his plan by making him a martyr, giving other jehadis an icon, etc?

    But what does Afzal have to say anyway? http://outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20041021&fname=parliament&sid=2

    But you won’t read it, because he’s a jehadi and hence beyond reason.

    I am against granting clemecy to Mohammed Afzal Guru; I am in favour of dropping the capital punishment clause altogether, and this is as good a time as any other to do that.

  16. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:08 pm

    And I’d really like your response to this:
    http://chinmayiarun.blogspot.com/2006/10/sacrificing-afzal.html

  17. Apollo said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    Shivam, u r arguments are really strange indeed. RCI is right when he says that if u are opposed to death penalty as a principle then u should not be worried whether someone is innocent, framed, not given a fair enough trial or plain guilty. Ur opposed to the punishment per se. so your efforts should be focussed on taking the death penalty statute off the law books.

    I even agree that u have the right to say whatever u want whenever u feel like it. so lets not say that because it is a jehadi in question u don’t have the right to talk about the merits or demerits of the death penalty in reference to this particular case.

    But what i don’t get is why u should be worried about the quantum of debate about death penalty that happened during dhanajoy’s case Vs happening now. It doesn’t really matter doesn’t it? what matters is the essence of the debate, isn’t it?

    Then again i wonder where your head is stuck when u say this

    “This is the kinda stuff that happens in a society that institutionalises violence:

    Girl enacts hanging, dies”.

    How do u even know that this interpretation of the incident is correct? Every year thousands commit suicide for various reasons. How do we believe that the entire thing was not conjured up by some journo trying to make up a case against death penalty at any cost, whether someone is innocent, framed, not given a fair enough trial or plain guilty. there is not even a name on the news report.

  18. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    Oh yes, Apollo, if my point is against capital punishment per se, why am I bothered about Mohammed Afzal Guru and the specifics of his case? I thought I had answered that above, but let me say more.

    The Afzal case is a good example of some of the problems with capital punishment. The legal issues that are being cited – circumstantial evidence, no lawyer, his crime not being punishable by death under POTA – are an example of how there may be a small chance of error whereas the error cannot be corrected once the accused has been hanged.

    It is certain that they would also have sent SAR Geelani to the gallows had it not been for intervention by Nandita Haskar backed by civil society groups. SAR Geelani’s phone records were deliberately misinterpreted by the Delhi Police.

    The sentencing to death of a surrendered militant from the politically volatile state of J&K where passions against the Indian state tend to run high amongst some sections; providing an opportunity to give the militancy there a martyr that they can idolise and draw larger numbers of Indian youth in that state to their ranks, is an opportune time when we must reflect if capital punishment has been useful in reducing the crimes that its recepients were accused/guilty of.

    As for your not believeing the Hindu report about the death of the 12 years old girl, how can you even believe that there is actually a man called Afzal Guru, or that there was actually an attack on the Indian Parliament? Could it all have been a movie you were watching, my friend!

    Of course, nowhere do my arguments against hanging Afzal Guru demonstrate Reality Check India’s malicious statement, “They are neither wrong nor right, they are just against some people. In stunning displays of naivete they will oppose an issue just based on who supports it.”

  19. realitycheck said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:50 pm

    >> I am against granting clemecy to Mohammed Afzal Guru; I am in favour of dropping the capital punishment clause altogether, and this is as good a time as any other to do that. >>

    Fair position. We can talk about that independent of Afzal. His case clearly falls under the rarest of rare cases. Lets us talk about Dhananjoy instead.

    If you want excellent reading material please read the SC judgement here

    http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp.asp?tfnm=27092

    Read the quality of the judgement and how well it is built up taking all possible mitigating evidence. It does not even rely only on his confessions, the evidence against him is overwhelming.

    Not having proper counsel can never be grounds for clemency. After all, if a defendent gets a negative verdict, it is obvious his counsel was not able to save him. Therefore all convicts can claim that their counsel was not “good enough” – just for the simple reason they could not get him/her a favorable verdict.

  20. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    Realitycheck, not having a counsel and having a ‘bad counsel’ are two different things. No obfuscation please.

    Now why are you digressing into Dhanonjoy Chatterjee?

  21. realitycheck said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    >> They are neither wrong nor right, they are just against some people. In stunning displays of naivete they will oppose an issue just based on who supports it >>

    Awright brother, I take it back if it hurts you. I owe it to you for the good work you did with the blog ban.

  22. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    It doesn’t hurt me. Please let it stay. You had written more malicious stuff. Please put it back as well. Just shows that obfuscation is not enough for you that you need to resort to malice as well

  23. realitycheck said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:11 pm

    Shivam,

    He did have counsel – more than one. The judgement addresses all of these issues.

    Mr Attar Alam, Ms Seema Gulati, Mr Neeraj Bansal (who has experience with POTA related cases) all represented Afzal in the trial stage.

    To top it the top legal minds in India at the moment, Ram Jethmalani and Shanthi Bhushan represented both Afzal and Geelani (FREE OF COST) in the Supreme Court. Not many death row convicts have this luxury.

    He nor his supporters at any time during the cross examinations objected to these people being nominated as counsel.

    Please check your incorrect assumptions about the case.

    Finally, in a conspiracy cirumstantial evidence is the key. That is why it is a conspiracy. However, our judicial system is quite strong, it does not just accept tidbits of circumstantial evidence – they must be well defined and form a sequence that indicate a conspiracy. All this and we are not even talking about the open confession he made.

  24. realitycheck said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    >> Just shows that obfuscation is not enough for you that you need to resort to malice as well
    >>

    A reality check is never a pleasant experience. 🙂

  25. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:22 pm

    You just can’t have enough of spreading lies and propaganda!

    The Supreme Court noted that Afzal was denied access to any lawyer at the stage of interrogation. The Court held: “The access to a lawyer at the stage of interrogation serves as a sort of counterweight to the intimidating atmosphere that surrounds the detenu and gives him certain amount of guidance as to his rights and obligations of the police.”

    Afzal comes from an economically poor family and did not have the means to engage a lawyer. He was the only one of the four accused who had no lawyer even though he was the most vulnerable. Afzal asked the designated court to appoint a lawyer for him and even gave a list of at least eight lawyers. However, the lawyers refused to represent him out of fear of being dubbed anti-national. When Mr Ram Jethmalani, senior counsel and Member of Parliament offered to defend Geelani the Shiv Sena goons ransacked his office in Mumbai. Such is the patriotism of the Hindu fascist forces.

    Finally, the designated judge passed an order on July 12, 2002 appointing a junior lawyer as his amicus curiae and gave Afzal the right to cross examine the witnesses.

    Everyone knows that a criminal trial requires knowledge of criminal law procedures and it is impossible for a layman to conduct a proper cross examination without legal assistance.

    Afzal tried to get legal assistance and if you read his letter to the All India Defence Committee for SAR Geelani and to his lawyer at the Supreme Court you will know how cruelly Afzal was denied an opportunity to defend himself.

    Afzal had a lawyer at only one stage of the case, which is when he wrote this to his lawyer:
    http://outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20041021&fname=parliament&sid=2

    But you won’t read it.

    And why should the President of India not met his family?

  26. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    And when I said, “Realitycheck, not having a counsel and having a ‘bad counsel’ are two different things. No obfuscation please,” I was not referring to Afzal but to Dhanonjoy, because you wrote: “Not having proper counsel can never be grounds for clemency. After all, if a defendent gets a negative verdict, it is obvious his counsel was not able to save him. Therefore all convicts can claim that their counsel was not “good enough” – just for the simple reason they could not get him/her a favorable verdict.”

    Afzal was at some stages of the case denied counsel. So I don’t see why your brought Dhanonjoy into it. Shifting goalposts?

    Anyway, the reason why the issue of ‘proper counsel’ is an important one is cos studies have shown that most of those who are hanged as a punishment by law are poor and can’t afford expensive counsel.

  27. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:27 pm

    From http://outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20061005&fname=afzal&sid=2

    :

    With respect and esteem I would like to inform your honorary Committee that in The Trial of Parliament attack Case in the designated session court Patiala house I (Mohammad AFZAL) accused was not given defence aid/Amicus curie in spite of giving three applications for the lawyer of my own choice. Throughout the trial I was not allowed to most of the witness, police and others to cross-question to their statements recorded by the session court. Not a single witness was cross-questioned on behalf of me by any legal aid. There were most of the witnesses which I have seen for the first time in court and the court went on recording their one-sided fabricated and self designed statements without any argument or cross-questioning. I remained speechless mute helpless spectator as I was not allowed to speak except few times.

    When I was allowed to cross-question one of the media interviewer of National T.V. Channel Aaj Tak named Shams Tahir, he confirmed and replied that I (Afzal) was under duress and threat at the time of interview as I was threatened by the A.C.P Rajbeer Singh before mediamen on replying to one of the questions which infact proved the complete innocence of S.A.R Geelani.

    The Court did not also gave me the recorded statements of The Trial, which was going on, so it was impossible for me to know what the court had recorded.

  28. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    A reality check is never a pleasant experience. 🙂

    As you indeed should know.

  29. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    By the way, you recently wrote, “We all know who Praful Bidwai is and tend to ignore his extreme anti-american and pro-communist views.” source: https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2006/10/03/a-litmus-test-of-impartiality/

    So now who “will oppose an issue just based on who supports it”?

  30. Shivam said, on October 8, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    Also, the mercy petition is very much a legal document with a legal procedure, and has been submitted by Nandita Haskar, so I’m prsuming it is legally not as flawed as Reality Check India is making it out to be. He did not go to the President probably because he is in jail!!!

    http://www.teluguportal.net/modules/news/article.php?storyid=16399

    Rename this blog ‘Propaganda Spread India’.

  31. Barbarindian said, on October 9, 2006 at 12:28 am

    I hope they hang the bastard high.

    Ironically, propagandists like Shivam are carefully ignoring the fact that their beloved Arab countries have some of the most stringest capital punishment provisions.

  32. realitycheck said, on October 9, 2006 at 2:09 am

    Shivam,

    Calm down and take a deep breath.

    I brought in Dhananjoy only in the context of discussing the abolishing of the death penalty itself. Look, he expressed regret and so far we have no reason to believe that Afzal has. If you want to stay with Afzals’ topic, I have no problems.

    You were not clear about who did not have counsel. Ram Jethmalani himself was Afzals counsel in the Supreme Court. I can assure you even a rich Indian cannot afford his services for a day. He did it for free.

    If he could not afford legal services, why did Nandita Haksar who was involved from the beginning in the case not arrange a “Save Afzal Fund” ?

    Read the supreme court judgement in full. I dont think we have the liberty to second guess our honble judges in this country.

    I dont see the point of the telugu portal link you have posted. Afzal’s kid should ask his dad why he was purchasing 60 kg drums of Ammonium Nitrate ?

    I do not know about the legality of the clemency petition. I was trying to point out what our government should insist on legalities aside. It must come directly from Afzal and must contain a statement of remorse and a disowning of his jihadi activities. After such a long drawn out legal process – at the very end – we cant let it culminate in a pardon to a remorseless killer.

    Sorry but at the moment the only statments we are hearing are along the lines of ” we didnt get justice in this country” – “the courts suck, your police sucks” , “dont have faith in Indian judicial system” and so forth. This wont cut it (atleast with a sophisticated state).

  33. Anoop Saha said, on October 9, 2006 at 7:50 am

    @realitycheck
    Questioning our state, its actions and motives, is definitely not weakening it. It in fact the opposite to that. Any society that doesn’t question the state is in danger of implosion.

    Md. Afzal has not personally asked for clemency because he has deep mistrust against the state, and justifiably so. And not to appease the hardliners, or to celebrate the attack on the parliament. As a surrendered millitant, he has already disowned the jehadis. The question is, did our state allow him join the mainstream?

  34. realitycheck said, on October 9, 2006 at 8:47 am

    >> Md. Afzal has not personally asked for clemency because he has deep mistrust against the state, and justifiably so. >>

    Not good enough. Tons of people are aggrieved in every part of India. You dont think Osama, Mohammed Atta, Al Zawahri, Beant Singh, had grievances ?

    If you have any exonerating evidence or facts please share with us. The media creation that he had no counsel is a lie. He was represented by three counsels in the trial stages and by the top legal minds Jethmalani and Bhushan in the Supreme Court. There are many who went to the gallows without such eminent help.

    If you are against the death penalty altogether even for the most heinous of crimes and for terrorist acts that amounts to a “war on the state” – then state it independent of Afzal. You cant mix and match the two issues. I did read your blog – if you presume Afzal is guilty then you must accept the top punishment the land has to offer. If you want to change the laws itself on a wider interest, then we can talk about that some other time.

    Cmon, he didnt file for an appeal himself just so his jihadi image might be tarnished. His surrender is in the past and he has admitted to going back to his jihadi ways. He cant have it both ways, he can either choose a violent jihadi freedom fighter image or he can choose life after openly renouncing jihadism again and expressing remorse. He cant have it both ways, but an unsophisticated state might let him have it both.

  35. Anoop Saha said, on October 9, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    Md. Afzal was wronged as a surrendered millitant. The STF did everything to undermine the values of this country. As he mentions, the trial court judge was openly communal, the defence was not to his choice. He was cross-questioning the defence witness himself. What kind of evidence do you want? The supreme court does not go into the evidence, it is an appeal court.
    “His surrender is in the past and he has admitted to going back to his jihadi ways.”

    Md.Afzal never expressed a desire to die. His point is, ‘He doesn’t believe my appeal will be accepted, as none of the arms of the state was ever fair to him’. He never said that the attack on the parliament was good. He has never glorified terrorism. He has himself said that he was disillusioned in the camp in Pakistan. He cooperated with the police for a very long time. What more do you want?

    Even if we accept ‘the top punishment the land has to offer’ for him, there is a strong case for his death sentence to be commuted. If we are against capital punishment, we have to start from Md. Afzal. A couple of years back, by similar public outrage we killed Dhananjay Chatterjee. Next year, it will be Dara Singh’s turn, or of the killers of Rajiv Gandhi. We have to start somewhere to stop this inhuman practice. Why not now?

  36. realitycheck said, on October 9, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    1. His past history means nothing in the present case. If he was wronged by the STF, then shit happens, I will join you to initiate a probe into the STF personnel who wronged him. We might even consider this angle if he killed the STF jawans who wronged him.

    2. If we want to talk about the total abolition of the death penalty then it must be on the ground assumption that he is a remorseless killer. THis is because if he is not a killer, then he must be set free. No clemency or life term.

    3. If you want to call into the possibility that he is not a killer at all and he is infact innocent. Then *you* have a lot of ground to cover. Since you are questioning the wisdom of the judges, you have to write a long blog post that takes apart the overwhelming evidence against him.

    4. This is not the time to talk about incompetent counsel. In the initial stages he did not appoint a counsel, so the court appointed one for him. Why did Mr Geelani not come forward to pitch in monetary help and arrange a counsel ? Why did Nandita Haksar not argue his case – if she thinks it is a slam dunk ? In which country can defendents demand that a particular counsel represent them ? Can we set a banana precedent here ? The justice system is all about precedents – tomorrow every criminal will demand to be represented by Shanti Bhushan – and will not accept a unfavorable verdict argued by someone else.

    These antics are not helping him one bit. The real friends of Afzal would plead with him to write a clemency note himself and if possible send a video recorded clemency plea. This would be his chance to disclaim jihad and express remorse for his acts.

    Attacking our countries’ judiciary, police, and our collective society does not help him.

    He can make a strong case for clemency if he openly denounces jihad and if that results in a whole lot of terrorists getting discredited.

  37. Barbarindian said, on October 9, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    The so called socially contientious who descend down like vultures everytime we are about to send a murderous lunatic away from where he can not return will not comment on polygamy laws. Priorities people! India has handed down a minimal amount of death penalties since the inception of the state and everyone knows judges will never allow it unless they are absolutely sure. On the other hand we legally allow the violation of rights of Muslim women!

  38. Dilip D'Souza said, on October 9, 2006 at 6:51 pm

    my main point was that Afzal himself has not filed any clemency petition.

    Is this a serious statement? Are you seriously saying that the main point of this entire discussion, for you, is that Afzal himself has not asked for his death sentence to be commuted? And that therefore, because he has not done so, nobody else can?

    I mean, let’s tease it out a little, turn it around a little, shall we? Billa and Ranga, remember them? They went to trial for their murders and didn’t themselves ask for the death penalty. Yet others (the prosecution, in particular) asked for the death penalty for them. Should the court have taken the position that because B&R have not asked to be executed, nobody else can ask it either?

    If we want to talk about the total abolition of the death penalty then it must be on the ground assumption that he is a remorseless killer. THis is because if he is not a killer, then he must be set free. No clemency or life term.

    And what is this supposed to mean? You’re saying the argument against the death penalty stands only if the guys scheduled for execution are “remorseless killers”? I mean, one of the strongest arguments some people make against the death penalty is that there have been times when the wrong person has been executed! Meaning they certainly were NOT remorseless killers.

    Besides, why should he be set free if he is not a killer? Plenty of people who are not killers serve long prison sentences.

    The bottomline is that we are increasingly becoming an unsophisticated state.

    Why? Because Afzal’s death sentence has set off this debate? If there was not a single murmur about that sentence, would we be a sophisticated state? Not to me.

    Every culture is different, we need to judge for ourselves what value can be placed on the death penalty as a deterrent in the Indian context.

    OK, I’m calling you on this. Please explain to me just how our culture is “different” to the degree that the death penalty is a greater (or lesser) deterrent than it is elsewhere. I expect you to point me to specific parts of our culture that have some bearing on the death penalty. Thank you.

    Allow me to say: I will reply only to civil responses to this, if any.

    As an aside, what happened? You asked me about my grandfather and I never heard from you again.

  39. Barbarindian said, on October 9, 2006 at 8:12 pm

    Is this a serious statement?

    Clemency based on acceptance of guilt is one of the very standard features of most judicial systems. We have extremes such as plea bargaining in the US to abolute udgements handed down under Sharia (unless there is blood money involved).

    In other words, the philosophy of degree of punishment is always contingent on the following:
    1) How strongly the state/judiciary feels about the crime
    2) Practical aspects such as money and expenses involved in spending a whole lot more money
    3) The view of the people directly involved, i.e. the guy who got blown up by the bombs – his wife, mom, sis, bro, father in law etc.

    1) A criminal who attacks the very foundation of our democracy, what else can you say? The guilty party does not accept guilt, does not plead for clemency. It is a direct insult to the state. This is not surprising because he views his act as an ideological act.
    2) This is a mute point, the entire process is finished.
    3) We never asked them, did we?

    Now back to the question of death penalty. It is a trade off really. If you let one dreaded criminal go, he might kill many innnocent victims. There is strong evidence that death penalty acts as a strong deterrent, again like most fields in reasearch this is debated. The whole thing depends on the threshold of doubt. The particular threshold at which a judge can hand in a life sentence is pretty much acceptable for death sentence as well.

    Afzal is a notorious terrorist with many acts of cowardice to his credit. He could be hanged for multiple offences, this is not a guy who was at the wrong place at a wrong time. This was a guy who wanted to do what he did and feels proud to have done it.

  40. realitycheck said, on October 10, 2006 at 3:33 am

    >> As an aside, what happened? You asked me about my grandfather and I never heard from you again. >>

    OMG, Sorry Dilip – I totally forgot about that. I just sent you an email about it.

  41. realitycheck said, on October 10, 2006 at 4:00 am

    Should the court have taken the position that because B&R have not asked to be executed, nobody else can ask it either?

    Sorry Dilip. I dont get it. B&R were defendents, they dont get to choose their sentences. Can you explain ?


    Are you seriously saying that the main point of this entire discussion, for you, is that Afzal himself has not asked for his death sentence to be commuted?

    This is my main point. It appears to be inconsquential but it is the key. Unlike other bloggers I am not rejecting the possibility of clemency outright. I am just weighing it against the potential benefits it might have to discredit terrorism in J&K.

    The situation is this: We have caught, tried, and convicted Afzal Guru. He seems to want clemency, but does not seem to want to ask himself. This could be because he does not want to tarnish his jihadi image. There could be other reasons, but as a sophisticated state let us assume the worst. I hope you are with me till here.

    From our (Indias) point of view, Afzal might want to keep his jihadi image by not expressing remorse nor discrediting jihadism. Yet, he wants clemency because his wife and various others are asking for it. If he did not want clemency, he could have easily said, “If you grant me clemency I will continue the holy war”. That would have sealed it.

    What is most disturbing is that his petition and his wifes letter basically lambast and heap invectives on our institutions, our military and paramilitary (BSF), our police and judicial systems. He wants clemency on the grounds that “your systems suck..you know what i dont even care..”

    We should turn that around, and make him ask for clemency on the grounds that, “i feel sorry for the attack, i now realize terrorism is not the way forward, if granted clemency i will spend the rest of my days talking disillusioned kashmiri muslims out of terrorism,.. ”

    If we grant him clemency on the current grounds (ie. heaping invectices on our core institutions while not expressing remorse) – it means, “you know afzal, you are correct. our systems suck. three courts cant even conduct a basic trial. our police sucks too – thanks for pointing that out. we agree to grant you clemency without even asking because we suck as a country and no one can get justice in our systems like your wife has pointed out in her letter’.

    Only a weak state would agree to a clemency petition on those grounds.

    If you want precedence, Nalini who was granted clemency asked for it herself. Three others on death row in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case have not got clemency, but they too asked for it to the governor and president.

    Remember, clemency today will be a demand for release tomorrow. Nalini who was on death row, not only got her sentence commuted to a lifer, but now political parties are asking for her release. (DPI in TN)

    If clemency is to be considered for Afzal, India must act quickly and secure the maximum advantages against terror.

    If we cant do that, do not interfere with the law. Let it run its course and atleast ensure justice is delivered to the six brave men and one woman who gave their lives protecting the seat of our democracy.

  42. realitycheck said, on October 10, 2006 at 4:30 am

    Some other comments.

    Besides, why should he be set free if he is not a killer? Plenty of people who are not killers serve long prison sentences.

    I meant if he is not guilty, he has no business to be in jail. He must be scot free enjoying the snows of the Kashmir valley.

    We can only talk about the larger issue of death penalty using Afzal as a backdrop on the ground assumption that he is guilty.

    If we want to bring into question his guilt itself, then you have to take a step back and refute point-by-point the very studied judgement. You have too much ground to cover because you are essentially calling into question the wisdom of our judges. The judgement is available online and is so studied that it examines each and every one of your points from various angles and what if scenarios.

    OK, I’m calling you on this. Please explain to me just how our culture is “different” to the degree that the death penalty is a greater (or lesser) deterrent than it is elsewhere.

    Our culture is different from the Chinese, in that we dont place too much regard to the collective good. The Chinese execute droves of convicts every year – because their culture is in a hurry, collective good is the key. The death penalty suits them perfectly at this point in their history.

    Our culture is different than the Saudis, we dont allow for barbaric punishments such as mutilation. Even though it might be the case that such barbaric punishments act as a strong deterrent.

    My own views on the death penalty have more to do with the practical rather than the ethical. I think as we become a more developed country and our collective quality of life improves, we can consider repealing the death penalty. If you are in france or spain, people enjoy a high quality of life outside (wine, women, great food, sunshine, whatnot).

    The contrast between the “outside world” and the “slammer” is large enough to significantly increase the deterrent value.

    To highlight my point further, consider a state like Rwanda. There is not much contrast between the outside and the slammer. Atleast in the slammer you are guaranteed safety to your life and food. The deterrent value of a lifer is much lesser.

    Now, India falls somewhere in between. I think for the poor and oppressed in India – the idea of spending a lifer in the slammer is not such a great deterrent. For the rich however, it might be worse than the death penalty.

    Get my drift ?

    To sum up – I think we are not ready to do away with the death penalty. Although I think the ideal position would be to do away with it when we have sufficiently advanced.

    The current position – death penalty only in the rarest of rare cases seems to be the perfect trade off. We can keep this position until our standard of living is advanced enough to make the possibility of a lifer a stronger deterrent compared to the death penalty.

  43. Anoop Saha said, on October 10, 2006 at 8:15 am

    Our culture is different from the Chinese, in that we dont place too much regard to the collective good.

    Capital punishment has nothing to do with culture. The Saudis and Chinese use it in large measure, not because the people or their culture, but because of exceptional power accorded to the state in these countries, and brutal repression of human rights of the citizens. The sole purpose of retaining capital punishment is to assert its power by the state on its people.

    Funny that you mention Rwanda. The last execution in Rwanda was way back in 1998, and the only crime for which capital punishment is awarded is genocide.
    Some of the not-so-advanced countries that have abolished death penalty include: South Africa, Armenia, Cambodia, East Timor, Nepal, Bhutan, Senegal, Namibia, Niger, Morocco, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Angola and most of South America. Even in Algeria, Myanmar, Israel and Morocco, it is not used in practice. Some of these countries have seen lot more bloodshed in the past and have sufferred from worse terror attacks than India. The facts refute your argument.

    The judge rightly said that Afzal needs to be hanged to satisfy the ‘collective conscience’ of the country. Our collective conscience has been dumbed down by the instruments of the state, that we can’t see something that is so obviously wrong.

  44. realitycheck said, on October 10, 2006 at 8:46 am

    Some of the not-so-advanced countries that have abolished death penalty include: South Africa, Armenia, Cambodia, East Timor, Nepal, Bhutan, Senegal, Namibia, Niger, Morocco, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Angola and most of South America.

    Excellent, this is the line of argument we must adopt if we want to talk about the larger issue of capital punishment. I think you have demonstrated very well that it is possible to argue effectively for a ban on capital punishment without the backdrop of Mohd Afzals clemency plea.

    The culture of a people, whatever that means affects how a society responds to power and organizes itself. The Chinese allow a super strong government because they want that kind of arrangement – atleast an overwhelming majority do. As you point out, culture may not be the only or even the most important factor.

    Since my opinions on the death penalty itself is ambivalent and dictated by practical consideration, I do not have strong views on it. I am not well informed to contribute much to that debate.

    What I do have strong views on is giving respect to the laws that currently exist today.

    If we repeal the death penalty next year, and we are confronted with another Mohd Afzal – say related to the Mumbai blasts, then I would have no problem with that person being sentenced to life in prison.

  45. Barbarindian said, on October 10, 2006 at 11:18 am

    RC,

    Thanks for the great debate on the topic. You are right, death penalty definitely has something to do with culture and status of economic development. That is why the Scandinavian countries were the first ones who abolished it. Among the advanced countries, US, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea still retain it and execute people in large numbers.

    As far as our culture goes, we have a strange situation. We have the communist lynch mob trying to put down an imaginary oppressive class and also double up as teary eyed activists who plead for the removal of capital punishment. We have tacit support for the train bombers and Naxalites. This same Dilip D’Souza argues day after day on his blog that the train bombings were justified.

    This crowd has no sense of moral absolute. For them everything is fuzzy and a matter of accident and chance and a result of circumstances, starting from a middle class kid securing high marks in an exam to a person’s deliberate choice of a life of crime.

  46. Dilip D'Souza said, on October 10, 2006 at 11:25 am

    I just sent you an email about it.

    Nope, haven’t got any such email.

    B&R were defendents, they dont get to choose their sentences. Can you explain?

    What was your argument? Afzal has not asked for clemency, so nobody else can do so. So I put it to you: B&R did not ask for a death sentence, so should nobody else be allowed to do so? In any case, Afzal and B&R are all defendants.

    Our Prez, I believe, will or will not grant clemency on the merits of the case that is presented to him, taking all views into consideration. I don’t believe he is going to say, let me announce a clemency because the country I head sucks. I don’t believe he is going to say, let me turn down this clemency because I need to show that the country I head is not a weak state.

    In other words, decisions about appeals like these don’t rest on one-dimensional cardboard arguments (“we will be a weak state” and the like).

    It makes no sense to say to someone asking for clemency (or making any kind of appeal), draft it in this other way, make all these declarations, and only then will we consider it. The Prez has to consider the appeal he gets. He’s free to turn it down, but he has to consider what he gets.

    I meant if he is not guilty, he has no business to be in jail. He must be scot free enjoying the snows of the Kashmir valley.

    Why? He may not be guilty of a crime that attracts the death penalty; he might still be guilty of a crime that attracts imprisonment. Is the choice restricted to death penalty or freedom to frolic in the snow?

    Our culture is different from the Chinese, in that we dont place too much regard to the collective good. The Chinese execute droves of convicts every year – because their culture is in a hurry, collective good is the key.

    You lost me there. What is meant by saying a culture is in “a hurry”? In what sense is “collective good” the “key”, and to what? What does this have to do with the death penalty?

    Our culture is different than the Saudis, we dont allow for barbaric punishments such as mutilation.

    Could you tell me in what sense execution is less barbaric than mutilation?

    I still don’t have an answer to this: “Please explain to me just how our culture is different to the degree that the death penalty is a greater (or lesser) deterrent than it is elsewhere.” I’d like some hard facts, not some unsubstantiated assertions about a culture in a hurry, and that death is not a deterrent to the poor. Thank you.

  47. Barbarindian said, on October 10, 2006 at 11:42 am

    B&R did not ask for a death sentence, so should nobody else be allowed to do so?

    A really strange argument. Is he really that dumb?

  48. realitycheck said, on October 10, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    A really strange argument. Is he really that dumb?

    Barb, I still dont get it.

    B&R were two murderers in the 70’s, I dont have much more information about their specifics. I believe they were both executed for their crimes. Google search is not throwing up any light on the case either.

    Some accused do ask to be given the death penalty, an example is Zacharias Mossaoiui. I dont think the judges will entertain whatever the defendents ask for.
    They dont get to choose their sentences.

  49. realitycheck said, on October 10, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    Dilip –

    I sent mail to ddd at rediff dot co dot in. I will try again because it did not bounce.

    It makes no sense to say to someone asking for clemency (or making any kind of appeal), draft it in this other way, make all these declarations, and only then will we consider it.

    If our country ie. India, grants him clemency, it would only be appropriate to extract as much advantage via that act against terrorism. This is a much wider issue that just one persons clemency – the same way his supporters are using the political situation in Kashmir.

    My whole point in the post was if clemency is granted, we must make a lot of sound and fury about it. We must extract statements of remorse and disillusionment with jihad from him. The government must play the media to the maximum to project his denouncement and disillusionment with terrorism. Nothing is non-negotiable, if his clemency results in thousands of J&K youth giving up terrorism then it is worth it. If he does not express remorse and is defiant, then we get nothing.

    What you are saying is, the media will broadcast all his rantings against India, then quietly grant him clemency or not depending on the presidents advice. Keep in mind the cabinet is deeply involved in the decision, the president is not totally independent.

    This might well be what will happen. The hallmark of an unsophisticated state. We cant fight this war on terrorism without adequate Chanakyagiri.

  50. realitycheck said, on October 10, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    Why? He may not be guilty of a crime that attracts the death penalty; he might still be guilty of a crime that attracts imprisonment. Is the choice restricted to death penalty or freedom to frolic in the snow?

    In the case at hand, he is A-1 accused number 1. The primary charge against him is punishable by the death penalty. If he is not guilty of the primary charge he is a free man. I dont think we can invent a minor misdemeanour change for him such as forgery. Look at Geelani’s case, his death sentence was overturned by the SC and now he is on many TV channels.

    Yes, if the primary charge against A-1 cannot be proven then the case essentially falls apart and it is tough to sustain minor charges just for the sake of it.

    I’d like some hard facts, not some unsubstantiated assertions about a culture in a hurry,

    Yes China is currently in a hurry. At the moment, they dont have time for “nice” things like liberty and individual rights. Most Chinese will tell you that their idea is to first get there, and then take care of these things. This scheme flies in their country because of the ‘collective good’ culture. Sorry, I cant present hard facts about a issue such as culture.

  51. Dilip D'Souza said, on October 10, 2006 at 1:19 pm

    B&R were two murderers in the 70’s, I dont have much more information about their specifics. I believe they were both executed for their crimes.

    I am sincerely sorry for assuming that others remember a celebrated case just because I do! (Really).

    B&R murdered Sanjay and Geeta Chopra, siblings (16 and 18 I think) who hitched a ride from them, in Delhi. Outraged the country. They were tried and hung.

    One last attempt at explaining this. (Facts of B&R case not important). You said: we cannot entertain demands about what should happen (clemency) to a particular defendant (Afzal) unless that defendant himself makes that demand. Right? With me so far?

    OK, so apply the same logic to B&R. Is it true that we cannot entertain demands about what should happen (death sentence) to them unless they themselves make that demand? In other words, when B&R’s prosecutors asked for the death sentence for them, should the judge have said: “But they are not asking for the death sentence themselves, so how can you ask for it?”

    Of course it is an absurd question. That’s the point. I find your statement (“my main point was that Afzal himself has not filed any clemency petition”) just as inexplicable. Whether Afzal decides to ask for clemency or not cannot stop others from asking for it for him.

    Section 432 of the CrPC, for one example, refers to petitions to suspend/remit sentences, and has an explicit clause (5b) referring to “where such petition is made by any other person”. No mention at all that the jailed person has to file such a petition for it to be considered.

    What you are saying is, the media will broadcast all his rantings against India, then quietly grant him clemency or not depending on the presidents advice.

    I’m saying this? Where? Where did I say anything about the media broadcasting his rantings, about the media granting him clemency? Please let me know.

    I couldn’t care less about the media and I hope the Prez is not paying the media any attention either.

    What we make of the decision to grant (or not) clemency, the statements we might extract, etc, are also irrelevant. Sure, we can try to do those things. But the decision has to be based on the merits of the case, period.

    The primary charge against him is punishable by the death penalty. If he is not guilty of the primary charge he is a free man.

    Not at all. Section 433 of the CrPC is about commuting sentences, and says, “The appropriate Government may, without the consent of the person sentenced, commute — (a) a sentence of death, for any other punishment provided by the IPC.”

    Meaning, he can still be guilty of a charge which attracts the death penalty, but it can be commuted to a term of imprisonment (for example).

    At the moment, they dont have time for “nice” things like liberty and individual rights. Most Chinese will tell you that their idea is to first get there, and then take care of these things.

    Arguable at best (how do you know “most”?), but leave it there. What does this have to do with their particular “culture” that does or does not support the death penalty?

    I cant present hard facts about a issue such as culture.

    Then please don’t make claims like “Every culture is different, we need to judge for ourselves what value can be placed on the death penalty as a deterrent in the Indian context.” Or if you do, please be prepared to back them up with something a little more substantial than “China is currently in a hurry.”

    In any case, forget China, I would still like an answer to this: “Please explain to me just how our culture is different to the degree that the death penalty is a greater (or lesser) deterrent than it is elsewhere.”

    I would also like an answer to this: “Could you tell me in what sense execution is less barbaric than mutilation?”

    Still no email. Test email from another account to that address just arrived OK, so the address is fine.

  52. Dilip D'Souza said, on October 10, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    Tell you what, since there appears to be a problem with the email, why not leave your email here, then I’ll send you a note.

  53. realitycheck said, on October 10, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Ok send me email to vivnambi77 at rediffmail dot com. We can take it from there. It is nothing major, I just want to find out from you whether it is possible to get your grandfathers views on the effectiveness of the current quota situation in the south. He is probably the foremost authority on the subject and I would be extremely interested in first hand opinion from him. Nothing more.

    With regards to his clemency, there are many ways to handle it.
    a) You can grant him the clemency without him asking for it nor expressing remorse for it.

    b) You can grant him clemency only if he explicitly asks for it and expresses remorse and disowns his jihadi ways.

    Both ways are possible. A sophisticated state will choose the way that provides it the most advantage vs the terrorists. It will choose the path that will demoralize and paint a poor picture of a jihadi. An unsophisticated state, may choose the second option. This option gives the state no advantage vs the terrorists. Even worse the terrorists are emboldened and the security forces are demoralized because it is like accepting his rantings against the state.

    Lets let the B&R analogy slide. I dont understand it.

    Lets also let the China analog slide, I cant provide hard “cultural” data.

    Mutilation is more barbaric than execution. That is my opinion. There is no Barbarism Index that is used to measure it. It is commonly accepted that mutilation is barbaric – which is why the west and even China do not mutilate but have no problems with execution. Mutilation was considered barbaric even in the middle ages. You may disagree and I am fine with that.

    I think we have pretty much run this topic into the ground. Would you agree ?

  54. Barbarindian said, on October 10, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    RC,

    Ranga and Billa were given the death sentence for killing two kids (teens). Search on the above names, you will get details. Although you will be left with a distaste in your mouth when you get the details.

    The case was sensational. The children fought bravely for their lives which even the perps admitted later. The victims were kids of a pretty high army officer. Later on a child bravery award in the name of the kids was instituted to be handed over to a kid who had demonstrated exceptional courage, on every republic day. I was a kid then, but I do remember everyone discussing the case.

    The provision of granting clemency by Prez was put in place for simple humanitarian reasons. Perhaps since the time of the event new facts (moral, not legal) have come to light. Perhaps there is a war and the guilty is a scientist who is needed. It was a crime of passion or the guilty has shown exceptional remorse.

    The disturbing thing is, like every other simple fundamental principle, this thing is being given a political twist now. Dilip and his cronies never would have talked about clemency back then. In fact at that time hanging those bastards was like a national celebration. The politics of the time demanded they be hanged and likewise when R&B submitted their clemency petition, the Prez office sent a brief note back, a slightly civil version of “go xxx yourselves”.

  55. Barbarindian said, on October 10, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    So, what are the “rarest of rare” cases in which the death penalty is expected in India nowadays?

    1. Sexual violence with murder
    2. Murder of exceptional gruesome circumstances such as those of children etc. and/or murder of large number of people as in serial killing
    3. Terrorist related activities (the recent Bombay blast judgements indicate only if death occurs as a direct result of such activities)

    The only two major arguments for abolishing capital punishment:
    1. Error in judgement
    2. Possibility of reform

    Possible clemency grounds:
    1. Crime of passion (i.e. someone kills the rapist murderer of his wife/sister. In this case the death penalty might not have been there in the first place, see above).
    2. Change of circumstance – perp ill, too old etc.
    3. Perp has national importance
    4. There is general concensus (including that of victims family) that death may be an excess
    5. Perp expresses great remorse and has a high chance of remorse

    The prez can not just forgive on his whim. Although the politics of the day and our ministers behavior suggests that they can do as they please without any logic/reason/data whatsoever.

    Hope this puts the matter in perspective.

    By the way, a search on dcubed blog reveals no discussion of death penalty or capital punishment, not even a mention of the Dhananjoy case, prior to the Afzal saga. As you can see, you can’t really separate the man from his politics (and ensuing gains thereof).

  56. Barbarindian said, on October 10, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    “Afzal should be publicly hanged”
    – Family members (TOI news)

    So there. Sharia anyone?

  57. realitycheck said, on October 10, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks Barb for your comments,

    To be honest I did not expect this much opposition for this moderate position. Unlike others, I am not rejecting clemency outright. I just want the government to explore some other options to see if some advantage can come out of this for our ground forces and for the kashmiri youth. We must reserve the right to grant clemency on our terms, not on his.

    I think the daughter of the Mahila CRPF who was killed has threatened to return her mothers Ashok Chakra too. This woman ran and closed the perimeter gate while being felled by a hail of bullets.

    The left have not articulated clearly their vision for India.

  58. Apollo said, on October 11, 2006 at 2:18 am

    shivam #18,

    i don’t know whether i was watching a movie or maybe imagining all those parliament attack happened or not but definitely u have been running high on dope called “No death penalty” at any cost.

    How can u support death penalty and chop blocks in Saudi arabia on one hand while u want the democracies of the world to become more and more soft towards terrorists hell bent on the destruction of those very democracies on the other hand is really a wonder.

    btw selective emphasis and reporting seems to be the norm among left-wing journos like yourself. I asked u specifically that why does not the Hindu news report propoganda carry the name of the reporter? That brave guy/gal who risked his life and limb to get us that information. or did that rag just make it up all up out of thin air? As a journo yourself don’t u think that’s a legitimate question to ask?

    and i expected a better response from a professional journalist propogandist than a personal attack against me. This really shows the sorry state of the Indian media with distinguished woolly headed people like yourself in its ranks.

  59. Confused said, on October 11, 2006 at 6:14 am

    So the point nice folks are making it is that Guru is not guilty because he was not given a fair trial. He was wrongly convicted by SC, due to extraneous factors. The same court system which set aside Geelani’s convection. Ok.

    Then why is the demand being made to grant him clemency only from hanging? Why is it ok to lock up a person who is not guilty for the rest of his life, but it is not ok to hang him?

    Why should not Guru be set free? Why is that demand not being raised? Since the folks here have access to so much information, I am sure they ”know” Guru is not guilty, just like folks know Quotas work, in that case please demand that Guru be set free henceforth.

    And to the nice gentleman who was wondering abour R&B case, by his logic, if one may call it so, even the fine gentleman who entered the parliament did not get a fair trial.

    Did they asked to be shot down?

  60. Barbarindian said, on October 11, 2006 at 11:32 am

    Confused,

    RC made the same point that if a fundamental argument in Dilip’s comments is that Afzal may not be guilty at all, then why not set him free? Why just commute the sentence?

    If you read Dilip’s blog, especially since the Bombay train bombings, you will notice that he is actually trying to glorify Islamic extremism in India. Dilip, Annie, Uma, and the other India folks are trying to paint an alternate reality here. According to their story, Hindu upper caste privileged have been oppressing Muslims and keeping them poor. They also commit riots, totally unprovoked, and kill large numbers of Muslims. Therefore, the Muslims are currently engaged in a freedom struggle in India, a guerilla war so to speak. In their war, they have been successful in killing the target people because they travel in first class or work in rich financial centers and speak certain languages. Dilip and his cronies hope that Muslims (and Dalits too) regain the control of India and drive the infidels out of the country.

    Of course the various other India bloggers have different motivations and flavors of the argument. To understand specifically how Dilip feels about you, you must attend some Church sermons in India – or at the very least read John Dayal’s stuff on the internet.

  61. Apollo said, on October 11, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    Confused and barbarindian have hit the nail on the head.

    1) if the apologists like dilip and shivam feel that Afzal is not guilty, did not get a fair trail, did not have steaming hot kababs and coffee served during boring court sessions and did not have AC, satellite TV, fridge, sofas and kurl-on mattress with persian carpets and had no Asian paints distemper painted on his cell walls and was not allowed callgirls in his cell then why don’t they seek his retrial and release why just commute of sentence. wonders never cease :).

  62. Apun Ka Desh said, on October 12, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Well Written.
    Agree with we being a totally UNSOPHISTICATED State.

    WHY? The state as we know is nothing more than a bunch of Politicians and Bureaucrats sitting at the top. Sure they are bothered about the country. The former is looking at votes, the latter at the latest bungalow to live in.

  63. Barbarindian said, on October 17, 2006 at 10:14 am

    I am curious to see if the seculars will bat for Santosh Singh with equal zeal.

  64. Barbarindian said, on November 6, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    RC,

    Do you know if proper procedure was followed in the Afzal clemency case? I thought they had decided the date of hanging as Oct 20, then chickened out a day or two before. Isn’t there a drop dead date (no pun intended) for petitions?

  65. realitycheck said, on November 7, 2006 at 7:08 am

    Barb-

    I guess so. The petition was pending as of the execution date Oct 20. So it cant go forward unless the petition is disposed of.

    Nalini, who was granted clemency after receiving a death sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi has now approached the government asking to be set FREE ! So you go from ‘death penalty’ to ‘life’ to ‘walk free’ in this country. One wonders what is the purpose of the courts.

    The key to remember in Nalini’s case is 18 people were killed in addition to Rajiv Gandhi. This included 9 brave policemen who were only doing their duty. Neither the Congress nor Sonia has the right to decide on clemency, because 17 others were killed too.

  66. Barbarindian said, on November 9, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Looks like Afzal filed his mercy petition now. So, on what grounds was the hanging postponed?

  67. realitycheck said, on November 9, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    Barb,

    I just saw the news story. Now we are talking.

    I do not know if he expressed remorse in his petition. Lets wait and watch.

    The government should insist of major expression of remorse, and disillusionment with the jihadi movement. As I said before, if we can (a) discredit the jihadi movement in kashmir and the likes of geelani and others _and_ (b) we can play the media well enough so that our security forces on the ground as well as kashmiri youth stand to gain – then fine, clemency is ok.

    The clemency petition should be along the lines of, “god I am sorry for what I did, I was disillusioned with propaganda from jihadis, I apologize to the families of those killed, if granted clemency I will spend the rest of my life weaning kashmiri youths away from terrorism”

    If we cannot pull this off, then carry out the execution. This is my stand from day one.

    There appears to be a technicality (loophole) that it is not necessary for the convict himself to file a petition.

  68. Barbarindian said, on November 9, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    I am not in favor of mercy, no matter the tone of the petition. If you can, read the book “America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It …” by Mark Steyn.

    Technicality in filing the mercy petition does not create a necessary and sufficient condition for pardon. I believe that technical provision was provided for cases where the condemned might be indisposed or otherwise unable to file the petition. Just that it was never spelled out.

    Let me lay out this case:
    1. Afzal was a hardcore terrorist, who had surrendered.
    2. He carried out the bombings on the parliament, killing innocent men, ac extremely contemptuous act against a sovereign state.
    3. We grant the death penalty only in the rearest of rare cases. If parliament bombing is not a rarest of rare case, I don’t know what is.
    4. Past behavior suggests that there is a high likelihood of Afzal reneging on his promises.

    What are we waiting for?

  69. realitycheck said, on November 9, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    No doubt, your line of thinking is correct, and honorable.

    But, we need some “dirty tricks” too to control and eventually turn Kashmir around. Using Afzal as a chess piece in our grand strategy is not necessarily bad, if it impacts the ground situation considerably for our security forces and Kashmiri youth.

    The worst thing that can happen is if we grant clemency to a remorseless killer who is basically saying, “free me because your country, your police, your judiciary sucks”.

  70. Barbarindian said, on November 9, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the matter. I just hope we do not set an extremely dangerous precedence and repent it later.


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