Monday, 4 March 2013

Caught in the cobweb- a political casualty

Murukesh Krishnan

The execution of Afzal Guru on February 9 this year has invited rave and frenzied responses from across the nation. Activists, political democrats, human rights fundamentalists, bureaucrats and rationalists all over the country have been seeking answers from the Government on such a sordid and inextricable move, that too in the heat-up to the coming general elections due next year. This, undoubtedly, raises a plethora of questions: Was Guru given a fair trial? Why was he executed before the assassins of Beant Singh and Rajiv Gandhi, who were also sentenced to death? Why wasn’t his family members informed prior to the execution? Did the government conduct the execution in a hurry? After ten long years of his sentencing, why such a sudden move? Is this just another “political gimmick” that the government has played to strengthen its position and gain the peoples’ trust before the 2014 elections?

Terror originating in Jammu and Kashmir has ceaselessly been a matter of concern for the Indian government as well as the Indian Army. But, has anyone tried to test the waters of that region and analyse as to why J & K has been a violent and unstable state in the country? The extremists say there’s no one to listen to their plight and this is the only way they can draw the attention towards them. I’m sure there are hundreds of Gurus there waiting to revolt and root many more such terrorist attempts against the system.

There were strong and legitimate reasons behind several groups standing up against the execution and that Guru was used as a scapegoat to pacify other extremist groups. Afzal’s several letters, statements made by Tabassum, his wife, and a host of human rights activists show that Afzal was a Kashmiri militant who surrendered to the BSF in 1993; thereafter, fighting odds stacked against surrendered militants, he started his own business in surgical equipments in Kashmir. Seeing him do well, the Jammu and Kashmir Special Task Force and even sections of the Indian army started harassing him for money.

He was picked up and tortured on several occasions; one such instance saw him shelling out Rs. 100,000 to hold off the tortures; the pressure on him -as on all ex-militants- was that he should become a Special Police Officer (SPO) or an informer of the Indian army.

These facts were highlighted only after the Delhi High Court condemned Afzal to death. Around the time his appeal came up before the Supreme Court, it became evident that Afzal had no lawyer during the entire trial court phase. None of the 80 witnesses produced by the prosecution identified Afzal as a Jaish-e-Mohammad militant. Officers from the J&K STF came to the sessions trial in Delhi and threatened Afzal with dire consequences to him and his family if he did not toe their line.

On 20th December, 2001, the Delhi Police Special Cell organized a totally illegal media trial in which Afzal was made to confess his crime under duress.

This very well draws the whole issue towards this conclusion that Afzal Guru was a mere victim of the political duplicity of our government and he was used as a scapegoat to conceal their drawbacks and inadequacies. After all, someone had to get sacrificed, right?!