Politicising the hanging amounts to dehumanising Afzal Guru
by Jaibans Singh on 11 Feb 2013 7 Comments

“Do not politicise the issue”, Congress leader Digvijay Singh said repeatedly while answering questions about the execution of Afzal Guru, one of the masterminds behind the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. Unfortunately, ever since news of the execution broke out on 9 February 2013, it is only politics that is being played out by one and all.


What is the political agenda behind the execution of Afzal Guru? Was he given a fair trial? What will be the fallout in the Kashmir valley? These and a plethora of issues continue to be dissected in the electronic media; the newspapers of February 10 are predictably full of opinions on the subject; magazines will also dwell on the same in great detail.


Why so much importance to a purely law and order matter? The Congress party nominated a battery of spokespersons to hop from studio to studio to give sound-bites on the execution. Was this necessary? The ruling party had no responsibility in the matter; it was the Government (of which it was certainly a dominant partner) that had merely implemented, that too belatedly, a judgement meted out by the courts to a person who was part of a conspiracy to wage war against the nation and its people. The police had already said that all procedures laid out by law had been followed to the letter. By coming out in the media the ruling coalition, especially the Congress, proved that it is out to gain political mileage from the execution.


Thankfully, the response of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party was muted. It expressed satisfaction at the implementation of the court’s verdict while saying, very rightly, that the same should have happened a long time back. All other national political luminaries came on air simply to register their presence, and mercifully, they too were moderate.


Since Afzal Guru hailed from the Kashmir valley, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had a critical role to play in the proceedings. For long, Omar Abdullah managed to stave off the execution of Afzal Guru by predicting chaos in Kashmir subsequent to the hanging. The prediction was based on a flawed assessment. The Chief Minister was not talking of the entire state which includes the Jammu and the Ladakh regions besides the Kashmir valley. He also failed to elaborate that trouble would be expected only in a few urban centres of the valley. Such trouble could be expected from other places in the country also, and did not constitute a reason to delay implementation of the court orders. Now, after the hanging, curfew has been imposed only in 10 out of the 22 districts of the State and these have also not reacted as violently as predicted.


Omar Abdullah has not hesitated from drawing political mileage for the hanging. While appealing to the people to maintain calm, he appeared on various channels and sent members of his party to participate in panel discussions. Wore, the Chief Minister used this opportunity to take political pot shots at his current bête noir, the Indian army. He is emphatic in declaring that the situation is being handled well enough by the JK Police without calling out the army, thus blatantly furthering his agenda of proving that the State can do without the Armed Forces Special Powers Act; very sad indeed.


The role of the media leaves much to be desired. One heard radio jockeys making obnoxious references to the hanging as if it was a cricket match won by India against Pakistan. The electronic media, as is the norm, went overboard in calling all sorts of so-called experts who dwelled long on inane issues. It is difficult to decide who is exploiting whom and for what purpose. Is the media exploiting the politicians and the intelligentsia for the sake of sensational copy, or are the latter exploiting the media to get free publicity? Either way, it serves no purpose in the long run except for reflecting both establishments in poor light.


To discuss the hanging of Afzal Guru in an insensitive manner amounts to dehumanising the person after his death and is against the norm of a civilised country like India. Afzal Guru had to be hanged in accordance with the law of the land; this was a professional requirement that imposed on the State a burdensome responsibility. Now that the deed is over and done with, the nation needs to introspect on the reasons that led to the creation of an Afzal Guru in the first instance.


One can look at the hanging of Kasab with some equanimity since he was a foreigner. Afzal Guru was an Indian gone astray; surely, what has happened is not something that India should be happy about. The nation should give some dignity to the person in his death and resolve to ensure that no more Afzal Gurus are created. Instead of discussing the hanging until the cows come home, this is the challenge that should be posed to the leadership of the country.


The author is editor, Defence.Info.com

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top