My hanging won't create any problem: Afzal Guru
By: Anshuman G Dutta
Afzal Guru slams Delhi government's observation on mercy plea. The parliament attack convict is depressed and has turned to philosophy and marxism, says his lawyer
Afzal Guru, more than anybody else, knows there are not many people who will care to shed a tear for him.
Probably this is the reason that the Parliament attack convict has scoffed at the Delhi government's observation that his execution might create a law and order problem in the national capital.
Rising clamour: Ever since the Delhi government has moved on the
reminders by the union home ministry, the demands for a swift decision
on the mercy plea of Afzal Guru have gained ground. Several groups are
baying for his head. Pics/Mid day
Serving death row in the city's Tihar central prison, the Kashmiri militant told his lawyer that he was "surprised" at the suggestion. "There is not even a remotest possibility that anybody would come out on the street to protest my execution," Guru's lawyer ND Pancholi quoted him as saying.
After four years of dilly-dallying over the issue, despite 16 reminders by the Union Home Ministry, the Delhi government finally swung into action over the matter last week. The state government forwarded the file pertaining to the mercy petition by the parliament attack convict to the Lieutenant Governor with the observation that hanging Guru might cause law and order issues in the city.
However, the file was returned the same day by LG's office asking for clarifications on several issues. Under intense pressure by the Opposition and the media, the Delhi government in a show of unprecedented dexterity returned the file to the LG office within 24 hours "clearing all doubts".
In an exclusive chat with MiD DAY, Pancholi shared insights into how Guru is coping with the intense media gaze on his case and the controversy surrounding his mercy plea.
"He has never shared his views on the mercy petition. But he is confident that if the government will consider his petition purely on merit, there will be no case made out for his execution," Pancholi said.
But one of the most famous death row convicts in independent India, the man who dared to target the Parliament House, has been in severe depression for some time now. Though he spends his days reading books on Indian politics and following the political situation in the country, the ongoing controversy has reportedly affected him adversely.
|Not fair enough?|
There is an appeal to issue clemency to Afzal from various human rights groups including political groups in Kashmir, who believe that Afzal Guru did not receive a fair trial and was subject to a frame up of corrupt and inefficient police work. Human rights activists in various parts of India and the world have demanded reprieve as they believe that the trial was flawed.
"The delay in a final decision on his mercy petition has affected Guru badly. He is depressed and under intense psychological duress for the last three-four months," said Pancholi, who met Afzal Guru last Friday.
Living in solitary confinement without any one to talk to or spend time with, Guru reads newspapers regularly and listens to music on a transistor which was provided to him by the jail authorities recently. However, the transistor too fails him at times as it does not receive signals properly from outside the high walls of Tihar jail.
A few weeks ago Guru had applied for transfer to a jail in Jammu where he would be able to meet his family members more frequently. Last time he met his family was during Raksha Bandhan (August 2009), but he keeps sending them messages about his well being. "He has asked them not to worry about his health," said Pancholi.
Guru is reading books by communist ideologue Manabendra Nath Roy. "He is reading Politics, Power & Parties and New Humanism both by MN Roy," Pancholi said.
The author of the books being read by Afzal Guru, Manabendra Nath Roy, born Narendra Nath Bhattacharya and popularly known as MN Roy, was a Bengali Indian revolutionary, internationally known political theorist and activist. He was a founder of the Communist Parties in Mexico and India. He later denounced communism as an exponent of the philosophy of Radical Humanism.
A jail official, requesting anonymity, told MiD DAY that Guru keenly followed the case of 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks convict Ajmal Amir Qasab and the news related to his death sentence.
Pancholi, however, clarified that Guru does not think that his mercy petition would be affected due to Qasab. "He understands that both cases are far removed from each other.
According to Pancholi, Afzal Guru, a native of Jammu & Kashmir, who helped militant organisations like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad plan the attack on Parliament, does not want Pakistan to interfere in the Kashmir issue.
12 Number of mercy petitions decided by the President in the last 15 years
3 Cases in which clemency was granted
25 Number of mercy petitions pending with the President
|Grounds on which a mercy plea is considered by the president|
* Personality of the convict (such as age, sex, or mental deficiency) or circumstances of the case (such as provocation or similar justification).
* Has the appellate court expressed doubt on the reliability of evidence but has nevertheless decided on conviction?
* Is it alleged that fresh evidence is obtainable, mainly with a view to seeing whether a fresh inquiry is justified?
* Has the High Court, on appeal, reversed an acquittal or has it, on appeal, enhanced the sentence?
* Is there any difference of opinion in the Bench of High Court judges, necessitating reference to a third judge?
* Was the evidence duly considered in fixing responsibility, if it was a gang murder case?
* Were there long delays in the investigation and the trial?