Friday, March 1, 2013

The hanging of a convicted terrorist - My opinion.

The hanging of a convicted terrorist - My opinion. 

Death penalty is legalized crime. One of the fundamentals principles of Justice is that, no man, however malicious his acts may have been, can be committed to death by law in a democratic polity : unless it is the “rarest of the rare cases”. Around one hundred and ninety countries across the globe have abolished execution as a form a punishment. Since 1995, there have been only four instances when Death penalty has been imposed in India. Ironically, the last two sentences were carried out in a matter of last few months; of Kasab, and now Afzal Guru.

I have no doubt in my mind that we cannot tolerate communal violence in any form, more so in the name of religious or racial fundamentalism and its scary manifestation: terrorism. We have to deal with these ugly weeds with appropriate measures of strength and justice. But the question that remains unanswered in me is this: Can a “hanging” moot out the cause of this psychological decay? Men who commit violence in the name of an ideology are merely acting out a fantasy fed by a diet of steady indoctrination of hate and intolerance over long periods of time. Their upbringing have been so skewed and polarized that it is impossible for them to comply with principles upon which a sane society is formed. So can one man be held responsible for what essentially is the collective responsibility of the system?

The Nazi trials offer a different perspective to crimes against humanity. One of the principal issues before the Nuremberg trials after the Second World War was to ascertain the root cause of the holocaust, and not merely a vindictive act of persecuting its perpetrators. In one of the striking observations of the trial, the justice committee remarked that executing the accused may actually lead to sense of disillusionment in the Germans - Many of whom still believed that Hilter and his regime was incapable of mass murder, even after they have been forced to view the mounds of corpses in the camps. In fact, the allied forces held the German armed forces in conditions that were better than those that they had offered to their prisoners of war : only to make sure that they were sending out the right signals to the people that the war tribunal was only interested in rebuilding Germany and not desecrating it.
By Hanging Afzal guru in a shroud of secrecy, without following the most basic protocols – we are not doing ourselves any good. The fragile stiches that are holding the country together are further being ruptured by such callous actions. We cannot uproot an ideology by making a martyr of a person. Yes, a martyr is what Afzal Guru will become to those innocent young minds being trained and pulverized into vicious hate machines in training camps spread across our borders; to step into our shores to wreak the same course of violence again and again.

In my opinion, Let us as a country work towards securing our defenses better. Despite so many acts of violence, I am not sure, if we have fundamentally understood the basic fact: that the root cause of our problem is our utter lack of sensitivity and preparedness to fight terror. We don’t seem to be learning meaningful lessons from the past. Despite out brouhaha over the hangings, none will disagree that we are still susceptible and blatantly vulnerable to further such acts of insane terrorism. After the dastardly September attacks , The US administration did a thorough analysis of what went wrong and the 9/11 commission report boldly outlined the failures of their Air defense system thus:
“Existing protocols on 9/11 were unsuited in every respect for an attack in which hijacked planes were used as weapons. What ensued was a hurried attempt to improvise a defense by civilians who had never handled a hijacked aircraft that attempted to disappear, and by a military unprepared for the transformation of commercial aircraft into weapons of mass destruction.”

This is the kind of soul searching that must happen in India. But this can only happen only we move away from the parochial arena of political expediency and look at the bigger picture. Until then, we will keep satisfying the hunger of masses by appeasing them with an Afzal guru or a Kasab.

My deepest sympathies to the victims of terror, but I cannot but feel that we are barking on the wrong tree by imposing death penalty. It may momentarily seem as though justice has been served, but the long term repercussions may well be far more painful, than what we may want to believe as a nation.


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