The Indian state is right now in its worst ever killing spree. Putting people mercilessly in the gallows and killing them in cold blood! The secret hanging of Afzal Guru has once again brought to the fore the barbaric practice of death penalty which the Indian state continues with, even after a great majority of countries have abolished it. Death penalty gives the state complete impunity to kill and is the worst form of cold-blooded judicial murder. While 140 countries in the world have abolished death penalty, as per the records of the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB),in India according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, a total of 1,455 convicts or an average of 132.27 convicts per year were sentenced to death penalty during 2001 to 2011. Death penalty, which the Indian state claims that it applies only in the “rarest of rare” case, is in actuality a routine tool in the hand of the ruling classes to browbeat and intimidate the oppressed and struggling masses. It is estimated that the number of those executed after 1947 is over 4,300.
by Democratic Students Union, Delhi University
“..what a state of society is that which knows of no better instrument for its own defense than the hangman.” – Marx
One fine morning in the
After tying behind the back
The hands that fought for sunrise
After blindfolding the eyes
That looked for sunrise
After putting the noose
around the throat
That spoke for sunrise
You turn that side
Only to find the sky blood red
In that crimson lap
Someone’s eyes have just opened.
– Varavara Rao
Now after executing Afzal, the Indian state continues with its killing spree and has rejected the mercy petition of Simon, Meesakara Mathayan, Bilavendran and Gnanaprakasam who were a member of Veerappan’s gang and had spent 18 years in jail already. The state had sat on their mercy petition for nine long years before rejecting it finally. In their case the state even more cruelly has merely communicated the execution orders orally and has given nothing in written. All the four convicts are above 60 years old, with the senior-most being 70. The decision to execute these old men who have spent nearly two decades in jail, display the violent retributive & vengeful character that Indian judicial system has acquired.Along with continuing with this barbaric system, the Indian state off late has gone a step further in making it a clandestine affair. So the Indian state’s cowardice goes hand in hand with its ruthlessness. Both Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru, contrary to the legal provisions and previous practices, were informed of the rejection of their petition and the news of their execution right before they were about to be killed. In Afzal Guru’s case his family, who was the petitioner for clemency was not even informed about the imminent execution. This denied Afzal a chance of judicial intervention after the rejection of mercy petition. The Supreme Court intervened after the President rejected the mercy petition of Devinder Singh Bhullar, the Guwahati High Court had intervened after Mahendra Nath Das’s petition was rejected and the Chennai High Court intervened after the mercy petition of Perarivaran, Saanthan and Murugan were rejected. But in accordance of the Indian state’s self styled fascist tactics, people are now being executed secretively in the dark of the night that prevents any kind of further legal and political battle to thwart such barbaric attempts. Especially after the state was forced to backtrack even after declaring the date of execution for Perarivaran, Saanthan and Murugan owing to huge public outcry in 2011, they have adopted this tactics of cowardly secret executions.
Capital punishment is nothing but a judicially-orchestrated elimination of political dissidents. The fascist tactics of execution have been used time and again to set an ‘example’ or to ‘teach a lesson’ to the people who dare to challenge the might of the Indian state. The history of Indian state since the transfer of power is replete with numerous such instances of political executions and hangings to crush peoples’ struggles, reminding us of the days of the British Raj. Much like the murder of Bhagat Singh being branded as a ”terrorist” by the British, Maqbool Butt, one of the prominent freedom fighters of Kashmir, was executed in 1984 as a warning to the entire Kashmiri nation who raised the legitimate demand of Azadi. Similarly, in the cases of Perarivaran, Santhan, Murugan – Devinder Singh Bhullar – Bhai Jagtar Singh, Bhai Balwant Singh – Jiten Marandi – Afzal Guru, SAR Geelani – apart from the gross flouting of legal procedures and farcical trial, what connects all of them is the same desperation of the Indian state to resort to capital punishment in order to eliminate a political dissident, to silence political dissent. While some among them have been summarily executed, few have been acquitted owing to peoples’ pressure, while others still languish on death row. Time and again death penalty is awarded only to either people from the most oppressed sections of the society or to the revolutionaries and the struggling masses who challenge the oppression and exploitation of the powers that be.
A killer state has no right to kill in the name of ‘democracy’. Under the same judicial system, Brahmeshwar Mukhia, the notorious killer of 277 dalit was easily given bail and walked out of prison scot free. Mahendra Karma, the main architect of Salwa Judum had never ever been booked under law and held positions of power. In this country mass killers and main figures behind orchestrated massacres and pogroms like Bal Thackerey or Narendra Modi are never ever booked under any law, but are hailed as national heroes in their life and death. It is a state that cold-bloodedly murders revolutionaries as also civil right activists, executes custodial killings, kills thousands in fake encounters and disappearances in Kashmir & north-east, orchestrates the brutal witch-hunt of minorities, and unleashes its army over the tribals. This murderous state has no right to kill masquerading itself in the name of “people’s conscience” or “democracy”. In our country there exists a gross inequality between a privileged few (read the ruling classes & its apologists) and the aspirations of the millions who live and die on the “wrong side” of the system. As long as this socio-economic disparity exists, voices shall continue to be raised against this oppressive system. And the answer for this lies only in the revolutionary transformation of the society, not in the noose or summary executions, draconian laws or incarcerations. All progressive and democratic voices should thereby stand opposed to Death Penalty.