The hanging of Afzal Guru is a stain on India’s democracy

Despite gaping holes in the case against Afzal Guru, all India’s institutions played a part in putting a Kashmiri ‘terrorist’ to death

The Guardian, Sunday 10 February 2013

Police bring Afzal Guru to court in Delhi in 2002

Indian police bring Afzal Guru to court in Delhi in 2002. Photograph: Aman Sharma/AP

Spring announced itself in Delhi on Saturday. The sun was out, and the law took its course. Just before breakfast, the government of India secretly hanged Afzal Guru, prime accused in the attack on parliament in December 2001, and interred his body in Delhi’s Tihar jail where he had been in solitary confinement for 12 years. Guru’s wife and son were not informed. “The authorities intimated the family through speed post and registered post,” the home secretary told the press, “the director general of the Jammu and Kashmir [J&K] police has been told to check whether they got it or not”. No big deal, they’re only the family of yet another Kashmiri terrorist.

In a moment of rare unity the Indian nation, or at least its major political parties – Congress, the Bharatiya Janata party and the Communist party of India (Marxist) – came together as one (barring a few squabbles about “delay” and “timing”) to celebrate the triumph of the rule of law. Live broadcasts from TV studios, with their usual cocktail of papal passion and a delicate grip on facts, crowed about the “victory of democracy”. Rightwing Hindu nationalists distributed sweets to celebrate the hanging, and beat up Kashmiris (paying special attention to the girls) who had gathered in Delhi to protest. Even though Guru was dead and gone, the commentators in the studios and the thugs on the streets seemed, like cowards who hunt in packs, to need each other to keep their courage up. Perhaps because, deep inside, themselves they knew they had colluded in doing something terribly wrong. Continue reading

FBI and NYPD: Luring the migrant into a fake “terror plot” — then jailing him for decades

Report Documents Fake Terror Threats Concocted by FBI and NYPD

Color Lines, Monday, May 23 2011

Shahawar Matin Siraj immigrated to Queens, N.Y., from Pakistan with his family when he was 16. Siraj began working at his uncle’s Islamic bookshop in Queens where, soon after 9/11, an undercover police officer began coming around and engaging Siraj in conversations about politics and religion. Whatever Siraj said to the officer in those conversations, it was enough for NYPD to soon assign another undercover officer to befriend the young man as well.

That second officer showed Siraj images of victims of American wars in the Middle East and of Guantanamo Bay, and began making up stories about secret terrorist organizations inside the U.S. Over the next year, the undercover agent prodded Siraj to devise a plan to detonate a bomb in New York City, as a means of responding to the U.S. government’s violence. Siraj first agreed but eventually refused to actively participate in the plot, saying, “No, I don’t want to do it.” But after more repeated prodding of the young man, Siraj finally agreed to act as a lookout for others.

A week later, Siraj was called by the NYPD to a police station to deal with an outstanding misdemeanor charge. Upon arrival, he was arrested and charged with conspiracy. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The next day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested and detained Siraj’s mother, sister and father. His mother and sister spent 11 days and his father six months in a New Jersey detention center. Continue reading