Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

Afzal Guru: Justice or blotch on India’s justice system

Posted in News by osamabinjavaid on February 9, 2013

No formal curfew but cable and internet service is suspended in Indian occupied Kashmir.

The steps have been taken after the man accused of plotting to attack the Indian parliament (in 2001) has been hanged.

Many believe that  Afzal Guru’s trial does not meet international standards for a fair trial.

He should have had due process, legal counsel and the presumption of innocent until proven guilty – all elements which were denied to the accused.

Afzal Guru was a fruit vendor from a small Kashmiri town alleged to have links with the banned group Jaish E Muhammad.

He was arrested with four others in 2001. One of the accused was acquitted and the death sentences of the other two were commuted.

The accused who was acquitted says the Indian machinery has carried out a grave injustice.

SAR Geelani says Guru was not provided a lawyer and even his family wasnt informed.

Guru’s wife Tabassum says she did not know that her clemency appeal had been rejected.

Under the law she has the right to meet her husband before the execution.

She insists the family has been threatened for years and her husband was tortured in jail.

But apart from the family and co-accused, rights groups have also blasted Indian authorities.

Human Rights Watch has condemned the execution. The group said in a statement that ‘the hanging of Afzal Guru, following closely behind the hanging of Ajmal Kasab in November, shows a very worrying trend by the Indian government.’

And the trend is deep entrenched in jingoistic media which has cheered executions – even in muddled circumstances.

Zee TV and others, with the consent of the government were involved a long media trial and even a film which falls under trying to prejudice an ongoing trial.

The police used the media to build their “guilty” plea by forcing Afzal Guru on a TV confession.

Sensible journalists’ pleas that he was disturbed and questions about a Bollywood-style confession were not heard by the courts.

Even Afzal Guru’s retracting his confession didn’t matter.

Questions will continue to haunt the dispensers of justice about the evidence and confession under duress which they used to build a case against Guru.

The death sentence is based on circumstantial evidence shrouded in procedural irregularities.

It’s unclear why Delhi High Court acknowledged that the investigating agency fabricated evidence yet upheld the verdict.

Opinion in India itself  is divided on whether a death penalty was warranted.

Dealing with terrorism is tricky business and involves treading a fine line between justice and joining the extremes.

Whether it was Kasab or Guru, they were both executed in a build-up to elections and the budget. Political considerations have played a huge role in these executions as the BJP and Congress fight for votes.

Justice in the world’s largest democracy remains shady despite India signing the International convention on civil and human rights back in 1979.

As one of my favourite authors aptly puts it “Democracy without justice is Demon-Crazy”

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Another good read: Clemency — for the right reasons http://www.hindu.com/2006/10/09/stories/2006100901901000.htm