On the morning of 9 February, under the cover of utmost secrecy, the Indian state hanged Mohammed Afzal Guru and buried him inside Tihar Jail in Delhi. His family and the rest of the country came to know only after the fact. The execution of Afzal Guru was a shameless and cowardly act that cannot be justified in the name of law and justice. On the contrary, the evidence shows that there was a blatant travesty of law and justice in his case.
The silencing of Afzal Guru was meant to put an end to the numerous questions that remain in people’s minds about who was actually responsible for the shoot-out in Parliament in December 2001 -- the event in which Afzal Guru was implicated – and what that was meant to achieve. These questions have never been answered by the authorities, who preferred to instead turn Afzal Guru into a scapegoat.
The hanging of Afzal Guru, after keeping him for nearly seven years on death row, during which all kinds of reactionary forces bayed for his blood, is an out-and-out political act, carried out with definite political objectives. It is meant to give a boost to the Indian state’s hype about ‘terrorism’ being the main enemy that the Indian people face today and to project that this state is the saviour and defender of the people’s security. It is meant to deepen communal divisions and stoke bloodlust against those portrayed by the rulers as ‘enemies of the people’. It will increase the already intolerable pressure on the people of Kashmir and on people of the Muslim faith in general, especially the youth.
The truth is that Afzal Guru, a ‘surrendered militant’ in Kashmir under the close supervision of the police, was used as a pawn in a relatively minor capacity in a murky plot which has come to be known as the Parliament attack case of December 2001. Who launched that plot? For what ends? Who all were involved? The answers to these questions have never been allowed to come out even more than eleven years later. The cases against 3 out of the 4 people picked up and jailed for their alleged involvement in the event were so shoddy that they could not be upheld in the courts. In the case of Afzal, it is clear that he was tortured and forced to make confessions and contradictory statements that even the courts recognized were weak and inadmissible as evidence. But on the basis of these so-called “confessions”, with the help of the corporate media, all attention was diverted from the shady unknown details of the plot, which were never probed, and instead Afzal’s ‘guilt’ became the main focus, even though he never had proper legal representation at the crucial trial stage. While today various public figures are piously declaring that “the law took its course”, this is the real story of the course that the law took in Afzal’s case.
The Supreme Court, in its judgement upholding the death sentence in Afzal’s case, admitted that the evidence against him was entirely circumstantial. This is an astounding fact, that a man is sent to his death on the basis of circumstantial evidence alone. The Supreme Court however justified its judgement saying that “the collective conscience” would be appeased by nothing less than Afzal’s death. What is this “collective conscience” which supposedly demanded the blood of Afzal Guru? It is nothing but a monstrous creation of the ruling class and the state, fabricated through media hype, the use of lies and calculated disinformation, the stoking of fears, the whipping up of thirst for revenge, and other despicable means. These are the means that have been used time and again to try and whip up public hysteria whenever a major offensive is planned against the rights of some section of the people or the other, or before an act of war, so that this can be falsely portrayed as the ‘will of the people’. Afzal’s case, and the much-publicized debate carried on for so many years over whether or not he should be hanged, was meant to keep the bogey of ‘terrorism’ in the forefront of public attention and divert attention from other more pressing issues facing the people.
The government and its apologists are now triumphantly declaring that Afzal’s hanging will send out a “strong message”. This is the same “strong message” that was sent out in November 1984, that was sent out again during the bloodshed that followed the destruction of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, and again during the Gujarat violence in 2002. That is the message that in order to achieve its political objectives, the state and the ruling class and its political leaders will not hesitate to shed the blood of innocent people, or to create a climate of terror and insecurity. Even before the country was informed about the execution of Afzal, the extreme step of blocking mobile phone connectivity and internet and even TV throughout Kashmir, and compelling people all over the region to stay inside their homes, was carried out. This only shows the real face of “Indian democracy”!
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar expresses its outrage and strongest condemnation at this dastardly act of the Indian state.