Tell Me Why?


Though I had often heard my colleagues complaining that they were suffering from the ‘Writer’s Block’, yet I always doubted whether such a thing really existed. But that was before I heard the news of Afzal Guru’s hanging. I must admit that, while I had no doubts in my mind that Guru would be hanged, I was shocked when I heard this news. So, I immediately got down to penning my anguish and wrote out fairly long piece, but after reading it, found to my horror that it just made no sense. My subsequent efforts were of no avail and it was then that I realised that I was suffering from ‘Writer’s Block’.

That I would be shocked by an incident, which I knew, would eventually come to pass, put me in a quandary.  So, I quit writing and started contemplating and this helped as I finally realised what was irking me so much- it was not why the hanging took place, but the manner in which it took place. Lest I be accused of being emotional or playing petty politics, let me clarify that I am not speaking for Afzal Guru, the Kashmiri, but for Afzal Guru the human. In a country that prides itself for being a vibrant democracy, why was Guru denied his basic fundamental rights? What were the reasons for conducting the execution with so much secrecy? Someone has to answer these questions and someone has to take the rap for the callous attitude and gross insensitivity exhibited in this case. 

Afzal Guru was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India and not by a kangaroo court. The case was progressed as per the law of the land and all legal formalities had been meticulously followed. So, when everything was ‘in order’, why was Guru denied the right to meet his family for the last time? Does the contention that his family was informed by ‘speed post’ absolve the government? Does the Prime Minister’s anguish over the delay in this letter reaching his family close the topic? Was enabling Afzal Guru to atleast speak with his family on the phone before his execution something too difficult or impractical to do? Afzal Guru may be dead but these questions will continue to haunt those responsible for these unpardonable lapses, that is, if they have a conscience!

In retrospect, it is evident that this execution was carried out with undue haste and all that the authorities bothered about was to go ‘strictly by the book’ and quickly ‘get over with it’. But in doing so, they have done irreparable damage to the country’s image. Eminent jurist Fali S Nariman has rightly described this as a case of “absolute thoughtlessness, recklessness” and gone on to say that, “Our worst enemies couldn’t have done it better. The way it was done. It was unfortunate. I am sure they did not think it out.” And now that a renowned and distinguished legal luminary like Nariman too has criticised the government’s inept handling of this execution, will someone in authority tell us why “they did not think of it” and if this was so, what action is being taken against those responsible?

Having spoken to many of those who strongly advocated the ‘early hanging’ of Afzal Guru, I found that while they were satisfied with the execution, none appreciated the fact that he and his family were denied the opportunity of a final meeting. So, New Delhi has to answer. It is not simply an issue of ‘inadvertent oversight’ or a case of ‘unexpected’ delay in the delivery of a letter. It is a much larger issue- one concerning a condemned man, who could not meet his family members before going to the gallows; it is an issue of a family, which heard the news of the execution from the media. It is also a much larger issue- of the brazen apathy with which those in authority treat the sentiments of the common man and how easily a democracy can suddenly change into a feudatory to suit its convenience!

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