The capital question
Will, not bill,can tackle a serious issue like Capital Punishment
ANALYSIS BY DR. MIRZA ASHRAF BEG
Delicate and tricky issues like hanging Guru or not definitely need a will to solve and not a bill. I remember during Alfatah case when scores of Kashmiri sons of the soil were on trial, many politicians advised Mirza Afzal Beg not to plead for the accused in the J&K high court and he said, “ that will be against my principles. I will defend them even at the cost of my own life.” I also remember after his exit from government in 1977 while he was staying with me at Pahalgam he was approached by a Jammu based business tycoon carrying a brief case full of money to plead for him in a property dispute. Mr. Beg replied, ‘Lala Ji I have great regards for your dynasty. My honest opinion is in order to preserve family prestige and honor domestic disputes must be resolved at home and yes though I am an attorney, money is not my sole consideration. There are some traditions we must respect. Going to court to redress the household disputes tantamount to washing dirty linen in public.” By tweeting in favor of a debate on Afzal Goru case in J& K legislative assembly Omar Abdulah has answered a call from his conscience. Hence he needs to be respected for the act. In a democratic setup it has nothing to do with his party affiliations. At the same time his party National conference will not be doing anything wrong when it supports the bill in the legislative assembly in the forthcoming debate as the ball has already been set rolling in the Tamil Nadu assembly. After all we claim to be a part of the same democratic setup. Hence in order prove its secular and democratic character Congress despite the BJP rhetoric needs to strengthen the hands of all those who favor the bill. Engineer Rashid of Langate will be remembered for his humane approach against the death penalty. At the same time we need to take cognizance of the fact that PDP has played her cards making it easy for others to play their trump card.
All of us know that last sixty years have proved turbulent between Kashmir and New Delhi. The only explanation for these persistent bitter relations that comes to mind is the fact that Kashmir issue was not settled in accordance to the commitments of Indian leaders. India and Pakistan have fought a couple of wars yet they are undecided what to do and where to go. This uncertainty is the root cause that scores of innocent lives are lost every day. Some of these innocents fall prey to the bullets of security forces while others succumb to the guns in civilian hands. Some perish in different jails while others are sent to the gallows. That is why we have mass graves scattered all along the ceasefire line from Poonch to Uri. I am confidant whatever we do someday someone will have to answer for all that and shall have to pay the penalty. Interlocutors have expressed their fears suggesting reading a lot between the lines and we need to understand Afzal Goru case is a volatile political issue.
Having a look on the present armed rebellion in the state it is evident that besides other things it owes its origin to the unfortunate hanging of Maqbool Bhat in Tihar jails a couple of decades back. Every sane person agrees to the fact that this hanging did not stop there. Maqbool Bhat is taking scores of lives every now and then to add to the pool of martyrs. As if that was not enough, unless a better sense prevails, an equally black chapter is likely to be written by hanging Afzal Guru in the same dreaded Tihar jail in Delhi.
In the present scenario when almost the whole world has abandoned capital punishment, hanging Afzal Guru can easily be pronounced as worst kind of political vengeance. This will definitely open another chapter of Kashmir’s struggle against the atrocities —that, I’m afraid, can be even fiercer. The statement of Afzal’s mother (Greater Kashmir, Sep 29, 2006) should be an eye opener in this direction. Moreover, since Afzal was not directly involved in the said attack on Indian parliament, the judgment pronounced against him has a lot of similarities to that given to Mr. Bhutto some 30 years ago in Pakistan.
There are people who believe that the act is being implemented to torpedo the recent confidence-building measures and abort the peace process between India and Pakistan. After all, why not? Once there is peace between India and Pakistan, the vested interests of different nations with stakes in Indo-Pak conflict will naturally be shelved forever.
Indian government has a history of foresight and wisdom in dealing with issues of national interest. The nation has gladly subscribed to such decisions. Fabricated Kashmir Conspiracy Case, where scores of Kashmiri leaders such as Shiekh Muhammad Abdullah and Mirza Afzal Beg were charged with treason and where the penalty is death by hanging was shelved in the larger national interests. Similarly the fictitious Hazratbal Murder Case and many such controversial issues were closed for obvious reasons.
Judiciary stands for humanizing justice. This in turn demands to look over the rigid legalities. In fact, its grace lies in flexibility. That’s why an accused gets the benefit of the doubt; and mercy pronounced without asking makes it divine. I must say, mercy can never be like alms to be given in a begging bowl. It would lose its sanctity in that sense. In societies were capital punishment is still prevalent, the head of the country feels privileged to execute his discretionary powers of clemency.
(The columnist is the author of “Kashmir: In Search of Peace.” Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 23 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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