Petition against death penalty for Mohammad Afzal Guru
The President of India
EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai, India
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The President of India,
Sub: PETITION AGAINST MOHAMMAD AFZAL GURU'S DEATH PENALTY
This is an appeal pertaining to one Mohammad Afzal Guru, 35, a resident of Sopore, a town in north Kashmir (India), who was arrested, to our knowledge, in December 2001 in connection with the armed assault on the Indian Parliament on Decmeber 13 2001. He is presently lodged in the Tihar Jail, New Delhi condemned to be hanged on 20th instant as per the verdict delivered by the Supreme Court of India.
In this connection it would be pertinent to point out that under international human rights standards people charged with crimes punishable by death are entitled to the observance of strictest fair trial guarantees in view of the irreversible and most extreme nature of the penalty. Hence meting out of death penalty upon conclusion of a trial in which the provisions of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had not been respected, which can no longer be remedied by appeal, would constitute a gross violation of the right to life as per the article 6(1) of the aforesaid Covenant.
Keeping in view the above international humanitarian standards, we are of the firm opinion that Afzal Guru's trial was not according to the standards laid out for fair trial. More so, as he was denied any worthwhile legal assistance at the trial court - the most crucial stage where evidences were produced and examined, and the Supreme Court of India has rejected the confession that is the basis of his conviction in the trial court. Furthermore, the prosecution, has accused him as a facilitator and not as one directly perpetrating the said crime. And the case of the prosecution stands entirely on "circumstancial evidences". Consequently death penalty, in any case, is grossly disproportionate in this case.
It is also highly pertinent that the trial, from the word go, was highly influenced by sustained hysteric propaganda of the Indian media, which had pronounced him guilty and was baying for his blood even before the trial started. It is no wonder and indeed highly significant that under the circumstances the people of Kashmir valley perceive this verdict nothing but as an act of appeasement to public opinion in India.
The verdict has come at a time when there is global campaign going on against capital punishment. So far death sentence has been completely abolished in as many as 87 countries and at least another 38 countries have in practice done away with it.
In this context the impact of hanging Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, another Kashmiri, in 1984 in the same Tihar Jail, at the end of a trial which was perceived as patently unfair by the people of the valley, radically aggravating the sense of their alienation with hugely tragic consequences must also be kept in mind.
In view of above we the undersigned earnestly urge you to exercise your moral and legal authority to set aside the said death sentence and also ask for a judicial enquiry to find out the real truths behind the dastardly attack on the Indian Parliament, as facts have been clearly fudged and fabricated by the investigation agency which have been clearly acknowledged by the higher courts, and the flawed investigations carried out thereafter. This would not only set a healthy precedent and reinforce the common people's trust and faith in democratic values but also go a long way to soothe the inflamed feelings of the people of the Kashmir valley and thereby help the crucial "peace process" now under way.