From Maqbool Bhat to Afzal Guru: history repeats itself

The 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...

The 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 pray to the bullets of security forces while others scumb to the guns in civilian hands.
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 jail a couple of decades back. Every sane person agrees to the fact that his hanging did not stop there. Maqbool Bhat is taking scores of lives every day 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 Goru on October 20th; once again in the dreaded Tihar jail in Delhi.
In the present scenario when almost the whole world has abandoned the capital punishment, hanging Afzal Goru can easily be pronounced as worst kind political vengeance and this will definitely open another chapter of Kashmirs' freedom moment, that I am afraid will be more forceful. The statement of Afzal's mother (Greater Kashmir September 29th; 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 similarity to that given to Mr. Bhatu some thirty years back 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. If we have a look on recent global events it will not be difficult to read between the lines. The bomb blasts in Srinagar were followed by Israel's bombardment on Lebanon and then train blasts in Bombay resulting in a tense atmosphere in the subcontinent. It is during the same period that India had to shop arms worth billions of dollars.
Indian government has a history of foresight and wisdom in dealing with issues of national interest. The nation has gladly subscribed to such decisions. Kashmir conspiracy case, where scores of Kashmiri leaders were charged for treason and the penalty is death by hanging was shelved in the larger national interests. Similarly Hazratbal murder case and many such controversial issues were closed for obvious reasons.
Judiciary stands for humanizing justice which inturn demands to look over the rigid legalities. In fact its grace lies in flexibility that is why an accused gets the benefit of 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, that way it loses its sanctity. In societies where capital punishment is still prevalent the head of the country feels privileged to execute his discretionary powers of clemency.
Dr. Mirza Ashraf Beg
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