The Hanging of Afzal Guru and the Strange Case of the

  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • The Hanging of Afzal Guru and the Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament
  • Arundhati Roy
  • 05 August 2016

10 thoughts on “The Hanging of Afzal Guru and the Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament

  1. says:

    Who is Afzal Guru? If this uestion is asked to any average Indian you will get the following answer “The mastermind of the 2001 parliament attack conspiracy”On 13 December 2001 five armed men in a white Ambassador car loaded with explosives drove through the gates of the Indian parliament in an attempt to blow it up In the ensuing gunfight all the five were killed along with six Delhi Police personnel two Parliament Security Service personnel and a gardener The police swung into action and in a rare show of supreme efficiency all the conspirators were apprehended within a week and confessions extracted The legislative also swung into action and the draconian POTA Prevention of Terrorism Act was pushed through on 19 December Since the confessions of the arrestees all Kashmiris confirmed their terrorist and Pakistani links massive military mobilisation on the border resulted with a very frightening standoff between the nuclear armed neighbours The accused were 1 Mohammad Afzal Guru a surrendered militant; 2 Shaukat Hussain Guru cousin of Afzal Guru; 3 Afsan Guru Shaukat’s wife who was Navjot Sidhu before marriage and 4 Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani a lecturer from Delhi The special court found all of them guilty within a record period of six months All the three men were found guilty of various crimes under Indian Penal Code and the draconian POTA and sentenced to death Afsan was sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonmentLater on defences sprang up for the accused put together by concerned people who were in no way convinced of their guilt The Delhi High Court reversed the decisions in case of Afsan and Geelani but upheld that of Afzal and Shaukat The Supreme Court later commuted Shaukat’s sentence to ten years’ rigorous imprisonment while upholding Afzal Guru’s death penalty After languishing for eleven years on the death row he was hanged on 9 February 2013 Personally I did not follow the parliament attack case with an avid interest as 2001 was a year of great personal importance for me and I was or less cloistered within the confines of my personal cocoon aren’t most Indians like that? I became settled again only in 2007 by which time the case was done and dusted – and Afzal Guru was awaiting the hangman’s rope Like most Indians I had no doubt that the Indian law enforcement and judiciary had given off their best and that Afzal was guilty as charged When he was hanged in 2013 I objected to it as a matter of principle I had come to believe that capital punishment was inhuman by then but not because I felt that there had been a miscarriage of justiceThe first bad feeling I had about the hanging was when I read the personal experience of Kobad Ghandy a jailed Maoist of his time with Afzal Guru in the book ‘Behind Bars’ The man did not come across as a religious fanatic or terrorist Also by the time there was a lot of noise being made across India in the name of his ‘wrongful arrest and execution’ So I thought it was time to have a look at the other side of the story when I chanced upon this bookIt is a collection of essays by the various people who were not convinced of the guilt of the conspirators and tried to save them from the gallows They were successful in the case of two but could not save Afzal Three fourths of the book cover the period when he was on death row waiting for a possible presidential pardon; the last part relates to his hanging and its aftermathAll the writers concur on two things 1 the guilt against Afzal Guru has not been proven at all and there has been serious miscarriage of justice; and 2 there are layers of secrecy covering the parliament attack case which have not been brought to light After going through all the essays I must say that they have done a good job of convincing meHowever as in all such cases we can choose to believe whom we wish to I will limit my summary of the book to the incontrovertible facts and testimony which has been agreed to by people on both sides of the issue and leave the readers to form their own opinions First of all before going on to the facts of the case I would like to share a paragraph of the Supreme Court verdict upholding the death penalty on Afzal “The gravity of the crime conceived by the conspirators with the potential of causing enormous casualties and dislocating the functioning of the Government as well as disrupting normal life of the people of India is something which cannot be described in words The incident which resulted in heavy casualties had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender” While I have no uarrel with the enormity of the offence had it been proven a phrase made me cringe Awarding capital punishment to someone to “satisfy the collective conscience of the society”? Anyway one cannot uestion the wisdom of the apex court so let us leave it here and see whether the case against Afzal and his ‘co conspirators’ have been proven beyond doubtNone of the accused has committed any act of violence All they are accused is of criminal conspiracy and the evidence against them is solely circumstantial even the SC remarks on that Now let us look into the nature of the evidence1 Afzal Guru according to the police was reached through Geelani though telephone records from his mobile phone However the records are available only for 17 December while all the accused have been arrested by 15 December2 All the ‘evidence’ against Geelani was thrown out in the High Court The main argument that he had received calls from Pakistan was proved to be false None of the eighty witnesses produced by the prosecution alleged that the accused were part of any militant organisation3 The police alleged that Afzal’s mobile number was written on all the fake I cards of ‘Xansa Web City’ recovered from the dead militants But the SIM for this number has not been found; over the fake I cards recovered from the site has not been sealed It is enlightening to note that Head Constable Ashwini Kumar who did the crime scene investigation refutes that any number was so written4 The only material evidence against Afzal is that he took one ‘Tari’ to Delhi and helped him to buy the car which was used in the attack Afzal does not deny this but he says he did it at the insistence of the police While he could be lying it is worthwhile to note that he is a surrendered militant constantly under the eye of the STF5 Afzal’s confession was obtained under torture as confirmed by him as well as Inspector Rajbir Singh of the STF Procedural safeguards were not followed He was forced to confess to the press and when he exonerated Geelani in the confession the police shouted at him and urged the press to ignore that part6 One of the slain terrorists was identified as Mohammed Yasin Fateh Mohammed alias Abu Hamza of the Lashkar e Toiba who had been arrested in Mumbai and handed over to JK Police in 2000 by the Police Commissioner of Thane SM Shangari7 Three Pakistani militants were supposed to be controlling Afzal; Tari Ghazi Baba and Maulana Masood Azar The said Tari was supposed to be in Delhi However after the closure of the case no further investigation regarding these connections seems to have taken placeThese are only a few of the inconsistencies in the case against Afzal The book is full of them if one is willing to spend the time and effort it would be easy to list at least a dozen Now let us come to the trail Apart from using the illegal confession drawn under torture to incriminate him Afzal was not even provided a counsel When he reuested either one of four out of a list of names provided as public counsel by the court the reply was that none of them were willing to represent him Ultimately the advocated provided by the court after doing a half hearted job many incriminating evidence was admitted without challenge withdrew under the excuse that she was moving on to represent a co accused Then the court provided an amicus curie means “friend of the court” to handle the case from Afzal’s side This person was openly hostile to Afzal and even communal according to him so that Afzal was forced to cross examine witnesses himself while Ram Jethmalani was arguing for Geelani No wonder he lost the caseCiting all this prominent advocate Indira Jaising filed a curative petition which also was surprisingly rejected Remember a man under death sentence is asking only for a just hearing and is being refused in my opinion to call this a travesty of justice would be mildAdd to this the media trial Based on the information provided by the police the national media constructed a terrorist tale worthy of the best of Bollywood Zee TV even dramatised it That this kind of sensationalism while the trail was going on would influence it fell on deaf ears as it was the common opinion that our judiciary is not influenced by popular opinion Later on when most of the ‘news’ was proven false none of the media cared to apologiseIn this context I am reminded of the ‘ISRO Spy Case’ in Kerala where the media and police together created a sensational tale and ruined a great scientist’s life and career in the process Just Google ‘Nambi Narayanan’ and you’ll seeAnd one thing – the details of the tortures suspected Kashmiri militants are subjected to gleefully recounted by the police You can hardly read through it without wanting to vomit And we call ourselves a democracy Was Afzal Guru guilty? Maybe Even after all the holes in the prosecution evidence the contradictions and the procedural lapses there is a slim chance that he may have been clever enough to plot the attack and obfuscate it to this extent But I seriously doubt itShould Afzal have been hanged? In my opinion an emphatic NO Apart from my objection to the death penalty in principle in case where there is a reasonable doubt regarding the guilt the benefit of the same should go to the accused It is our collective duty as a civilised democracyBut the main thing I took away from the book was that it is imperative to change our approach on Kashmir if we want lasting peace in the valley We have alienated the Kasmiri youth so much and so much poison has been injected into the mind of the average Indian regarding the ‘Kashmiri Terrorist’ that it would be a gargantuan task to rebuild the confidence But it is high time we made the effortIf only to prevent the genesis of future Afzal Gurus

  2. says:

    The book “The Hanging of Afzal Guru” with a note of introduction by ‘Arundhati Roy’ carries the articles interviews opinions and essays of lawyers journalists academicians and social activists It introduces untapped angles of the attack on Indian parliament There are straight to the point articles that talk about the unfair trial of Afzal Guru’s However these people do not distrust the ruling of the apex court but use their right to raise their voice It is a good point about the book that it does not try to impose its findings view points and opinions on the readers On the other hand it empowers the reader with facts to know the complete truth behind this attack on democracy which never came in public view It reports the heinous crimes conducted by security forces during custody of Kashmiri youngsters who live in out of valleyhttphuesofasoulwordpresscom2013

  3. says:

    every indian should read this

  4. says:

    Public Consciousness This word in this court verdict made me laugh

  5. says:

    This is such a lucid way to put forth just how many injustices were done in the name of the law and democracy to one man who should have been let off after 10 years at best A must read for critical thinking individuals this collection of essays tries to shed light on all facets of the causes and aftermath of the Afzal Guru case Definitely a book I'm going to revisit many times over

  6. says:

    Repetitive after a point but shocking and educational It's a book everyone who has an interest in Indian democracy should read It's a work of resistance For Kashmir

  7. says:

    So Muhammad Afzal Guru was hanged to satisfy the barbaric conscience of Indians but I also get the impression that the whole Parliament attack episode was staged not so much as to get rid of some individuals but to shamelessly justify India's attack of Pakistan which never happens

  8. says:

    While reading this book there was several uestion was been in my mind The most Important uestion was in mindDoes government of India knows what was the motive of attack on the Parliament Afazal Guru was a pawn in this case Somehow compensation was being paid to the family of martyred soldiers and citizens of India Which organization agency country was behind this attack As a citizen of India will our government will ever to expose this to usBJP wanted to gain political mileage In 2014 there was an assembly election and BJP wanted to gain this on the name of Nationalism Fake Nationalism Propaganda is being made on nationalism as if entire Indian State is in Danger Fake nationalism worked and BJP was in PowerCondition of valley Though India is on the economical growth but the valley is still waiting for its turn No internet Only army vehicle could be seen across the valley Only guns and firing could be heard Forget about the lovely roses and musical strings Just think about the children who are being grown up there Only guns no roses Blood is being flooded through the valley Will they see a better day like usA good book to read Afzal Guru interrogation conviction and execution tell how strong is the law One can not escape from it But at the same time it raises uestion on agencies too Will those culprits will be hanged who has been enjoying Pakistan

  9. says:

    A dark account of shoddy police investigation and blind judicial system which led to hanging of a man who was not given a fair chance of defense You are bound to lose trust in Indian Judiciary Media and Investigating agencies once you come across the details of the horrendous trial

  10. says:

    Collective conscience But how do you judge whose collective conscience it really is how representative it is; and most importantly how was it even built in the first place?

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About the Author: Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy is an Indian of Afzal PDF É writer who is also an activist who focuses on issues related to social justice and economic ineuality She won the Booker Prize in for her novel The God of Small Things and has also written two screenplays and several collections of essaysFor her work as an activist she received the Cultural Freedom Prize awarded by the Lannan Foundation in .