Have mercy, leave communal politics out of Afzal hanging

Law and order consequences as a dangerous ruse for impeding justice

ashishs

Ashish Sharma | May 19, 2010



The more procedures, the less justice. Paraphrasing Cicero only states the fact, though, and does not even begin to unravel the sinister politics at the heart of the matter. The curious case of Mohammad Afzal, or Afzal Guru, is merely cloaked in procedures devised by ingenious governments in India to legitimise their designs to delay, thwart or subvert justice whenever they so choose. So Afzal Guru must wait his turn for justice to be executed, the Centre has been telling us these past four years, while Ajmal Amir Kasab may not have to wait for more than a year, the Union law minister in the same government has said.

Even when the Delhi government finally acted on Afzal Guru’s mercy petition, it advised the Centre to be prepared to deal with the law and order consequences in case the death sentence was executed. As the media has reported, according to procedure the home ministry asks the state government involved to submit its opinion on this specific issue. Since the Centre is in charge of Delhi Police, the Delhi government has followed the procedure and advised the Centre to prepare for the consequences. Both the home ministry’s query and the Delhi government’s reply amount to unwarranted, communally-motivated politicisation of the worst kind and, of course, militate against the idea of justice. Punishment must follow crime, come what may.

Should justice be delayed indefinitely because the government fears, or claims to fear, some kind of unrest? Is that, in turn, because Afzal Guru is a Kashmiri Muslim? In that case, why did the government bother about even going through the motions before stopping short of delivering justice? Is that not a mockery of the due process of law and justice in this country? Or is the government really guilty of vitiating the atmosphere by politicising Afzal Guru’s regional and religious identity?

The dangerous ruse of the so-called law and order consequences not only impedes justice but also weakens India’s resolve in the ongoing war on terror. It sends out undesirable signals to the world at large as well. If India cannot bring to justice the guilty within its boundaries, how can it expect Pakistan to act against the Pakistan-based terrorists it considers the masterminds of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai? For that, the Congress party, which has ruled Delhi since 1998 and led the ruling coalition at the Centre since 2004, must be held squarely responsible.

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