Afzal Scapegoat of Judiciary Trying to Balance Justice & Populist Sentiment: PUDR

‘Don’t sacrifice him to electoral, communal compulsions of country’

SRINAGAR: New Delhi based People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) while strongly condemning the death sentence to Mohammad Afzal Guru as unfair and unjust has demanded the commutation of his sentence.

“Not only does PUDR oppose capital punishment in principle as violating the right to life, as based on ‘an eye for eye’ revengeful ‘justice’; as inhumane, brutal, arbitrary, and discriminatory, but having followed the case closely we have observed the denial of justice to Afzal. We therefore appeal for clemency for Afzal”, the PUDR secretary said in a statement today.

PUDR said that of those whose mercy petitions have come up before the President , the most frenzied demands in recent times have been for the execution of Muslim political prisoners- Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistan national sentenced and executed in the 26/11 Mumbai attack case , and now Afzal Guru.

It said the case against Afzal has been based on faulty investigation, circumstantial evidence , and the suspicious role of the police. “Afzal was not present at the site of the shooting, nor could he be associated with any unlawful organization”, it added.

“As is well known the High Court judgment in the Parliament attack case acquitted one of the accused given death penalty by the Special Court, reduced another’s sentence to ten years’ imprisonment, and acquitted a third who’d earlier been sentenced to five years. in what was clearly a ‘balancing act’, the High Court enhanced Afzal’s sentence to three life terms and two death sentences. Afzal thus became the scapegoat of a judiciary trying to balance justice and populist sentiment”, the PUDR statement read.

The PUDR said that Afzal’s case casts doubt on the free and fair trial for those tried under anti-terror laws, and sections under the IPC on waging war and conspiracy. “The SC in its August 4, 2005 judgment sentencing Afzal to death even while accepting that there was no evidence that Mohammed Afzal belonged to any terrorist group or organization”, the Court observed

“What hangs in the balance is the life of a Kashmiri Muslim who crossed over into Pakistan when very young, who returned three months later and then voluntarily surrendered, who was tortured by the army for refusing to become a BSF informer, who tried to carve out a new life for himself by getting a degree in Delhi University, and set up a business in Delhi, who was unfairly convicted and sentenced to death, who was denied a free and fair trial”, said the satetement adding “let him not be sacrificed to the electoral and communal compulsions of this country”.

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