By Fahad Shah
‘Muhammad Afzal Guru’, name of a Kashmiri man, who has been transformed into an election manifesto headline, “We will hang Afzal, if voted to power.” Everyone is preparing hard to bid him farewell from the world after being in jail for more than nine years now. No one knows facts, for they were never made public. These political parties who want to see him hanged to gain their vote bank politics.
Do we know the man?
Do we know his crime for which they are going to send him to gallows?
It was at 11:30 am, December 13, 2001, five armed men in a white ambassador car attacked the Indian parliament. Two days later, on December 15, Delhi police claimed they have cracked the case and Afzal was among the four Kashmiri persons who were arrested. Afzal is a resident of Sopore, Baramulla, Kashmir. He is a surrendered militant and now was living his life by running a surgical instruments distribution shop, on commission basis, at Baramulla town. He was arrested in connection with the Indian parliament attack case. He was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India in 2004. But after protest demonstrations against his death sentence erupted in Kashmir, it was delayed and his family is seeking a presidential pardon for him, but his request was very far on the list.
So the mercy petition is also taking time. But politicians don’t miss any occasion to use Afzal’s death sentence as their tool for vote bank politics.
In the 15th Lok Sabha election, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) election manifesto announced “Afzal will be hanged within no time if we will be voted to power. The BJP president Mr. Rajnath Singh said, “If NDA was voted to power it would immediately hang Afzal guru …….we would fulfil apex court order immediately.” This didn’t end here, also the congress leader, who visited Kashmir before parliamentary elections for campaigning, Rahul Gandhi joined in and came out with, “Afzal guru will be hanged at his turn.” He accused BJP for releasing ‘Maulana Masood Azhar’ in the Indian airlines plane hijack to Kandahar.
Do people know that Afzal hadn’t a legal aid neither in Kashmir nor in Delhi?
Afzal has written to the President:
“The Supreme Court held that no prejudice was caused to me even though I did not have a lawyer to represent me and my lawyer at one point told the court he did not wish to represent me.”
Adding further he writes, “…records clearly show that I was not involved in the actual attack on the Indian Parliament. I did not murder anyone and I did not injure anyone. I do not think that the attack on Parliament served the cause of the Kashmiri people and I am genuinely sorry for the family members of those who died doing their duty. I feel no personal enmity towards the nine persons killed or the sixteen injured. It is unfortunately the poor and the vulnerable who suffer. Even if no one believes me I can honestly say that I do not justify or rationalize the pain of the children who lost their fathers on that day as I feel the pain of the seven year old son who is living with the nightmare that his father may be hanged any day.”(1)
What was Afzal, who was he, how he, a shopkeeper reached Delhi?
“In his statment before the Court, Afzal says that he was introduced to ‘Mohammad’ and instructed to take him to Delhi by a man called Tariq, who was working with the STF. Tariq was named in the police charge sheet. Who is Tariq and where is he now?” (2)
The mystery is deepens further.
People have to summarize the answer, is Afzal got trapped in the political system of India or, is he really guilty of attacking the Indian parliament? Shouldn’t he get a fair chance to represent himself with facts in public?
(1) The Many Faces Of Nationalism by Nandita Haksar in 13 Dec: The Strange Case of The Attack On The Indian Parliament.
(2)Arundhati Roy in Introduction to 13 Dec: The Strange Case of The Attack On The Indian Parliament.