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India: Concerned Citizens Statement on the Execution of Afzal Guru

9 February 2013

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Statement on the Execution of Afzal Guru

We, concerned citizens from different parts of India, are shocked by the secretive manner of the execution of Afzal Guru who was accused in the Parliament attack case and condemn the continued use of death penalty. We are also dismayed to know that his family members were not informed about the hanging and his body was not handed over to them as per colonial prison rules that should be revised immediately. As there are a number of doubts in his case regarding the evidence produced that was primarily circumstantial in nature and that he was not provided proper legal assistance at the trial stage, sentencing for life should have been the preferred option.

The timing of the execution with elections around the corner is giving rise to strong suspicion that this decision could have been guided not just by judicial considerations but also by political exigencies, and hence is a matter of concern for democratic traditions and civilized values of our society.

All acts of terror and criminality deserve exemplary punishment but death penalty should not be used as a punishment as we all recognize that the process of justice always contains the possibility of error and misjudgment. Hence all judicial decisions should have the scope for review and redress. Death Penalty has no such scope. Further, the choice of awarding life sentence or death penalty rests solely on the judge hearing the case. Thus the personal stand of different members of the judiciary can have crucial bearing on the judgment.

In the US, the state of Texas has the largest rate of death penalty and the largest number of lethal crimes. The history of capital punishment has shown that it does not have any deterrent effect on crime. And thus there is nothing in its favour. A number of countries across the world have already abolished death penalty. Larger and larger sections of democratic opinion in this country and all over the world have been demanding that Capital Punishment be removed from the statue books since it is cruel, violent and violates the sanctity of human life. We demand immediate steps to abolish the death penalty.

  • Admiral L. Ramdas - Ali Bagh
  • Mahesh Bhatt - Mumbai
  • Prof. Achin Vanaik - New Delhi
  • Prof. Rama Melkote - Hyderabad
  • Prof. Ritu Diwan - Mumbai
  • Dr. Sandeep Panday - Lucknow
  • Lalita Ramdas - Ali Bagh
  • Dr. Mazher Hussain- Hyderabad
  • Dr. Ram Puniyani - Mumbai
  • Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy - New Delhi
  • Irfan Engineer - Mumbai
  • Dr, Samata Roshni - Hyderabad
  • K. Sajaya - Hyderabad
  • Anuradha - Hyderabad
  • Ambica - Hyderabad
  • Jatin Desai - Mumbai
  • Jeevan Kumar - Hyderabad