Recently, Devinderpal Bhullar’s, the man behind the Delhi car bombings of 1993, death penalty was relaxed by law. This when seen in contrast with the secret hanging of Afzal Guru, bears a frightful meaning for Indian democracy.

The commutation of Devinder Singh Bhullar’s death sentence into the life imprisonment has triggered resentment in the hearts of the people who think that the case of Dr Afzal Guru could also have been treated like that of Bhullar. Bhullar’s case was no less serious than Afzal’s and more importantly, Bhullar’s involvement was more obvious than Afzal in their respective attacks. Still the two cases have been given a differential treatment for all the anger and strikes in the valley of Kashmir. India, one of the largest democracies of the world, is witnessing the cases of bias and double standard even after 66 years of independence. Why Afzal’s case wasn’t treated the same way as Bhullar’s?  Wasn’t Afzal’s hanging a conspiracy and a politically motivated action? We shall try to examine the whole and get to the answers of these and many other related questions. Let’s start.

Devinder Singh Bhullar

save bhullar Afzal and Bhullar

Bhullar was convicted for his direct involvement in the 1993 car-bombing of Delhi which killed 9 people and injured 25 including Maninderjeet Singh Bitta, Chairman of All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF). For the same, he was awarded death by the law in the year 2001. His mercy-petition and the subsequent curative-petition were rejected in the years 2011 and 2013 respectively keeping in view the gravity of the crime. Many anti-terrorist organizations pleaded for his immediate execution but his mercy-petition was left hung for eight years and he was shielded. Finally, as we came to know recently, his death sentence has been commuted. The central government has hailed the decision of four-judge bench, though not directly.

Afzal Guru

The case of Dr Afzal Guru was convoluted partly due to his non involvement with any terrorist group and partly because of the assumed hatched conspiracy of the corrupt police officers. The charges are that he helped militants in the execution of parliament attacks in December, 2001 which he had confessed earlier. However, he took back his confession saying he was forced to confess as his family was constantly threatened and he was tortured severely. He was awarded death sentence just a year after the attacks. Her wife had submitted a mercy-petition in 2006 which was ultimately rejected by the president in 2013. Hardly a month after the rejection of the mercy-petition, Afzal was secretly hanged on 9th, February, 2013 and buried close within the Tihar jail. The government, surpassing all the judicial boundaries denied Afzal’s family the right to perform religious rituals with Afzal’s departed soul. That has downed the whole idea of democracy.

Letting aside the charges, the court trial of Afzal has been termed unfair. In the letters written by Afzal in the jail which were made public only after his hanging, he has clearly pointed out that he didn’t support terrorism and he was trapped in a conspiracy. Even the political and social activists like Praful Bidwai and Arundati Roy have made it a point saying Afzal was not given a fair trial to defend himself. And in a statement, the Supreme Court of India has stated that the decision of execution of Afzal was taken hastily to satisfy the ‘collective conscience’. One can clearly predict the future of the judiciary that starts taking decisions to satiate the public. Adding to the problem, Afzal’s family wasn’t informed prior to his execution which is incompatible with the existent law.

If we compare the two cases, we can easily recognize a similarity which has been used as a ground to prevent Bhullar’s hanging: the time between the submission of the mercy-petition and its rejection by the president. The court held that the delay in deciding on the petition can be used as a ground for the commutation of the death sentence as the victim lives between the light of life and shadows of death till a decision is made over his fate. A man of raw intelligence may ask, “Wasn’t this provision applicable to Afzal’s case”? Since the beginning of the current year, 19 death-row prisoners’ have been given a relief by changing their death to life-term including the assassins of the late Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi. But when it was Afzal’s turn, the system didn’t work. This can be conceived as a worse political gimmick where the ruling government tried to satisfy the Hindu majority to yield a huge vote-bank. After comparing the cases like these, all the unbiased noses smell yucky politicization of the cases. We ask to abolish the bent judiciary. We opine that the judiciary, in no case is supposed to be biased and take sides on the basis of religion or region. If it the point is not taken into the consideration, the nation would head towards chaos and the cases of terrorism would rise. And also, we have to be prepared for more raged uprisings in the states like Jammu and Kashmir if the trials are treated partially. The slogan goes, “Abolish the bias, and make the peace”.

By Aarif Qadir

Also See:
Justice Denied for Far Too Long

Image Source: Save Prof. Devinderpal Singh Bhullar@Facebook

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