Statements of Radical Socialist

Radical Socialist Statement on the Hanging of Afzal Guru

Radical Socialist condemns the hanging of Afzal Guru by the Government of India. This act was a political, and not a legal act. Behind it lay a desperate need to drum up nationalist hype, as the popularity of the Congress led UPA government steadily disappears, as working class anger leads to repeated strikes and even general strikes, called even by bureaucratic union leaders, as middle class anger sometimes goes in the direction of the BJP and at other times in seemingly non-party, but definitely anti-Congress directions. Just like the hanging of Kasab, or the decision to introduce death penalty in rape and murder cases, this is a political act. It is significant that the government condones rape in uniform, with Chidambaram saying that in view of the army not coming to a consensus, the AFSPA rape cases cannot be covered. In the same way, Guru, who was, even by the extremely flawed legal process he faced, found guilty only of being involved in a alleged conspiracy, was nonetheless condemned to be hanged, while Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani, found guilty of directly inciting riots, have not been condemned to be hanged. We do not call for their hanging either. But we point out that this is very clearly a case where Muslims will be punished more severely than Hindus, for not only same crimes but even lesser crimes. Even by existing law, death penalty can only be given in rarest of rare cases. But Guru was not one who fired a shot or threw a bomb. He was not present at the scene. Even by prosecution evidence his role was peripheral. The court ruled that he did not belong to a terrorist organisation. In addition, it must be remembered that Guru was not represented at the trial court by a lawyer. He was tortured into producing a confession which stank so much that even India’s higher courts impugned it. And yet he was sentenced to death. And this was ordered by the Supreme Court, in a terrible language, when it said that  he must be hanged for the "collective conscience of society"

Guru was also denied the full legal and procedural rights one is supposed to get. If a clemency petition is rejected, and if the person is properly informed, there are opportunities for judicial review. Guru was denied this opportunity.His family members were not informed about the hanging and his body was not handed over to them.

We also condemn the day long violence on those who raised their voices in protest, such as the arrest of S.A.R. Geelani, or the violence on Gautam Navlakha, and the house arrests in Kashmir.

We demand

·        End secretive hangings

·        Hand over Afzal Guru’s body to his relatives

·        Immediately release everyone arrested in connection with protests over the hangings

·        Take action to punish those who attacked and those policemen who were complicit in the attacks, at Jantar Mantar

We also urge all democratic Indians to join a campaign to abolish the death penalty, in view of the extremely selective, flawed and politically motivated manner in which death penalty is carried out, even apart from any principled opposition to it that many have.

Radical Socialist, 9/2/2013