In my capacity of Mohammad Afzal Guru’s lawyer and as a member of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties I am enclosing the statement of Afzal Guru.
There is no doubt that the attack on the Parliament has to be condemned as totally unjustifiable on several basic grounds. But there were several questions about the way the entire investigation into the crime was carried out and how the accused were sought to be demonised via the electronic media even before the trial was started.
And once again within hours of the horrific bomb blast outside the Delhi High Court on 7th September, 2011 in which so many lives were blown up, the name of Afzal Guru has been dragged in. The media, quoting an e-mail whose veracity has not even been established are broadcasting on prime time that the blast was motivated by a group supporting Afzal Guru.
The corporate media is not accountable to anyone, and there is no effective authority to monitor the functioning of the 24 hour TV channels and protect victims of violations of basic journalistic ethics. All the discussions on the talk shows are heavily loaded against anyone trying to put forward any view that the anchor does not support. Though the electronic media talk loudly against corruption, yet it does not realise its own corruption of having power without any responsibility.
The media portrays anyone talking on behalf of Afzal Guru as anti-Indian as if patriotism is the monopoly of the national security experts, anchors of the corporate media and the Hindu Right alone.
Our Save Afzal Guru campaign brought into focus the following aspects of Indian democracy:
1. The corruption of the investigating agencies and the lack of professionalism in their work was exposed. The Investigating Officer in the Parliament attack case was many times decorated but later he was shot dead because of his involvement in shady real estate dealings involving crores of rupees. By hanging Afzal we will take away attention from the corruption of the policemen of the Special Cell.
2. The fact that judiciary was more influenced by the media campaign rather than constitutional and legal principles with the result that the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence only to ‘satisfy the national conscience of the country’. This is not a legal ground for sentencing anyone to death. By hanging Afzal it would mean Indian citizens can be hanged to satisfy Indian right wing and corporate interests.
3. The charge sheet in the Parliament attack case accused three Pakistanis i.e. Maulana Masood Azhar, Ghazi Baba and Tariq Ahmed as master minds of the attack. The said master minds were not caught. Those who were involved in the actual killing were dead. And so even if Afzal was a part of the conspiracy he could not be given a death sentence because he neither masterminded the attack nor participated in it. By hanging Afzal the responsibility of finding the real culprits and dealing with real causes of terrorism would be put aside.
4. The human rights campaigners proved that two people arrested were innocent. This included a pregnant Sikh woman who gave birth to her baby in the jail. Her life has been completely wrecked. We never saw her on the TV channels and the terrible tragedy of her life. It showed how dispensable some citizens are.
5. The people of Kashmir saw that there were people in Delhi and other parts of the country who genuinely showed solidarity with them and campaigned for justice in the case. Hanging Afzal will breach such delicate bridges built between the people of Kashmir and the people in rest of India.
6. Afzal Guru was never given a fair trial and he was not represented by any lawyer of his choice because lawyers were not willing to take up his case. Even the most important witnesses were not cross examined. By hanging Afzal we will undermine the right to fair trial which is guaranteed to every person under the Indian Constitution.
The whole experience of the Parliament attack case exposed the weakness of our democratic institutions but it also showed that if a small group of committed activists and lawyers chose to fight for democratic space it was possible. If Afzal Guru is hanged that space would be jeopardised. The Hindu right wing can celebrate with fireworks; the corporate media may get something dramatic to report on for a few days but Indian democracy would suffer a body blow. That is why Afzal Guru must not be hanged.
I enclose his statement for publication as requested by him so that people may hear the voice of a man who has been more wronged against.
9th September, 2011 N D Pancholi
Encl: Statement of Afzal Guru below.
It is a serious matter of concern that some criminal elements and anti-social persons committed that heinous and barbarous crime of bomb blast in Delhi High Court. It is a cowardly act and must be condemned by all. No religion permits killing of innocent persons.
I am disturbed that my name has been un-necessarily being dragged in this connection. Some agencies/groups are playing dirty game by falsely involving my name. This is not for the first time that my name has been dragged by some mischievous persons /groups for such heinous crimes. It has become a routine that whenever such blasts take place my name is sought to be dragged in order to de-characterize and malign me to cultivate public opinion against me.
I am sending this statement through Shri N.D. Pancholi my advocate and request the press to publish this statement.
Sd/- Afzal Gurus/o Habibullah
Click here to return to the September 2011 index.