The verdict pronounced last year to ‘satisfy the collective conscience of a nation’ was still there in the minds of the Kashmiris, when the Indian Supreme Court gave its verdict on commuting the death sentences of three of those convicted in the assassination of Indian ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, thereby applying different laws in the case of Kashmiris and the rest of India, and proving that the Kashmiris under Indian occupation are treated as ‘political untouchables’.
On 17th February, 2014, the Indian Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of three of the killers of ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to life imprisonment, citing delays in the case. The top court headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam handed the three lifes in prison on the grounds that the successive Indian presidents had taken 11 years to decide their pleas for mercy against execution. The ex-Prime Minister of India was assassinated in a suicide bomb attack in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, on 21 May 1991. Fourteen others were also killed in this suicide bomb attack.
In 1999, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for being part of the group that conspired to kill Rajiv Gandhi.
A look at the last year execution of alleged Indian Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru and the verdict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case clarifies certain things regarding the Indian Kashmir policy. This verdict signifies how the Kashmiris are given step-motherly treatment by the law enforcing agencies, political parties and the central government of India.
It must be noted that for 11 consecutive years, the family of Afzal Guru waited and wondered about the verdict of the Indian Supreme Court deciding his fate and the approval or disapproval of the mercy petition from the then Indian President. Guru’s mercy petition was pending before the former president Pratibha Patil.
In reply to this long wait and hope from a ‘democratic’ country, the family got a letter from the government of India informing them of the imminent hanging, after two days of his hanging. The most inhumane and undemocratic part in this secret hanging was denying Afzal Guru’s wife and son the chance to meet him for the last time before his execution. Afzal Guru was hanged by the same Indian court on 9th February 2013.
The same sort of secret execution was carried out in the case of the Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab.
Secondly, this verdict exposed the Hindutva mentality running deep down in the Indian political and judiciary system. They have rules and regulations; but for the Kashmiris, the laws are mended to satisfy their collective conscience. Laws are made to hang the Kashmiris, free the armed Army personnel involved in treason, loot, murder, killings and rapes in Kashmir and satisfy the collective conscience of democratic India. Self-made and biased laws are used to punish the Kashmiris for a crime that they never commit.
The recent verdict of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case cleared all the theories about India being a democratic and secular country. By this decision, the Indian Supreme Court once again made the people of Jammu and Kashmir realize that there is a separate set of laws for Kashmir and the rest of India. Despite calling Kashmir an integral part, India dares to satisfy the ‘collective conscience’ of their country by hanging a Kashmiri with minimal proof and least or no evidence against him. But for the killers of Rajiv Gandhi, the judgment is delivered on a mercy plea, though having ample proof and evidence against the killers/culprits.
By this decision, they have prompted a feeling of alienation in Jammu and Kashmir. Verdicts concerning the Kashmiris have always been pronounced keeping in view the petty political and national interests, while for the rest of the Indians, verdicts are pronounced as per the humanistic approach. At some place, the mortal remains are a threat to their integrity while elsewhere, living killers are welcomed.
Both the mainstream and pro-freedom parties in Kashmir rejected this double standard of the Indian government.
Tabassum Guru, wife of Shaheed Afzal Guru, said that her husband was a victim of the so-called collective conscience of the Indian society and his hanging was a blot on justice.
“Today I want to ask the Indian Supreme Court why it strangulated justice and hurriedly pronounced its biased verdict”, she added.
Such executions raise questions which need to be answered. Is India an anti-Muslim country, where executions are only carried out on the basis of religion? A fake democracy, where human rights are least respected! A country where people are sentenced to death on the basis of region, color and creed! A country where animals have more rights than humans! A country where a son like Ghalib cannot see his father’s face for the last time! A country where a wife is denied to meet her husband for the last time! A banana republic which loves to see the red of the Kashmiri blood spilled!
But oppressive states must bear it in mind that such double standards will not do any good to their already sinking ship, but only alienate the oppressed people more and more.