Afzal Guru – the Guy Fawkes of India

Afzal Guru, the mastermind behind the terrorist attack on Indian Parliament in December, 2001, is again in the news. This time it is because the Delhi government has needless created a controversy about his mercy petition by putting out a rider regarding “the law and order situation” if he is hanged. This rider is attached to the government’s recommendation that endorses the carrying out of the death sentence. The Lt. Governor who is an astute bureaucrat saw through this political game of the elected government and has sought clarifications as to what is meant by this reference to the law and order situation. But since the matter is out in the open, the media has picked up the issue and a controversy about the intentions of the government has been created.

Let me put the record straight. Afzal Guru has gone through the entire legal process and found to be guilty of masterminding the Parliament attack by the Apex Court, which has upheld and sentenced him to death. His mercy petition has been pending and despite more than a dozen reminders, the Delhi government had put the matter under the carpet for more than four years.

Now that the matter is settled, the issue has to be forwarded after clarifications by the Home Ministry, which in fact is in charge of law, and order in the capital. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has no control over either law and order or land and it is surprising that her government should be talking about law and order.

Since the last two days, the Afzal Guru mercy petition has come up in a big way on the TV screens and people have been giving opinions, which have political colour to it. There is a defence, which is being put out for the convict. Many people have been saying that death penalty should be abolished and his life should be spared. He has been convicted because of circumstantial evidence and this is not enough, many argue. What they forget is that the Supreme Court has judged every element from all angles of the case before it has arrived at this verdict.

I am also personally against capital punishment but Afzal Guru’s case is different. He has been convicted for masterminding the attack on Indian Parliament, the temple of our democracy. There is symbolism in the entire attack. Had the militants who carried out the strike succeeded, many of our representatives may have died a gory death. In addition, the message would have gone throughout the world that India was unequipped and incapable of defending its own Parliament. Those familiar with the British Parliament’s history may recall that a person by the name of Guy Fawkes had tried to blow up the House of Lords. Fortunately he was caught and executed. Till this day, November 5, I think is celebrated in England as the day to commemorate the foiled attempt.

Afzal Guru has helped in carrying out the attack, which left several members of our security forces dead. He has committed a heinous crime on the Indian Nation. For that his execution has a symbolic value too. That his hanging will lead to a riotous situation in Delhi or elsewhere is too feeble an excuse. The message should be that anyone who attacks our country and its institutions cannot get away. The Congress and BJP should stop sparring with each other on the issue. There has to be a unanimous opinion throughout the country. If Afzal Guru has to be made that example than so be it.

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