The government of India in a top-secret operation hanged Kashmiri youth, Muhammad Afzal Guru, on February 09, 2013, in New Delhi’s infamous Tihar jail in connection with the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001 and buried him in the jail premises. It was not a mere hanging but a judicial murder aimed at gaining political objectives, as international standards were not met while carrying it out.

New Delhi executed Afzal Guru despite having accepted the recommendation to put moratorium on capital punishment during its Universal Periodic Review in the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 21st session, in September 2012.

It is a fact that the evidence against Afzal Guru in the case was entirely circumstantial and based on a confessional statement extracted by the police under duress that was set aside by the Supreme Court of India. The apex court in its judgment had admitted that there was no evidence of his direct involvement but had termed the execution as necessary to “satisfy the collective conscience of the society”. This ruling itself speaks volumes about the conviction and the punishment being political.

Legal experts believe that Afzal Guru was not provided with a counsel of his choice and adequate legal assistance, as a result of which his entire trial was prejudicial and unfair. The court-appointed junior lawyer was not for defence of Guru but for assistance of the court. He did not visit his client even once in jail, not summoned any witnesses in Afzal’s defence and did not cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.

Ironically, the Indian government went ahead with its premeditated plan of sending Guru to the gallows, despite the fact that a petition filed by his wife for repeal of his death penalty was pending in the Supreme Court. Also he was given the punishment out of turn as judgement on death sentences of many other accused was to be taken before his. Afzal Guru was also denied the right of review after his mercy petition was rejected by the Indian president.

The government of India not stopped here. It didn’t bother to inform the family members of the victim about the decision in advance so that they could meet and talk to him for one last time. And for rubbing salt into their wounds, they were not handed over his body, which was buried inside the jail, depriving them of performing his last rites. Even the residence of the family members was put under siege to prevent people from expressing solidarity with them.

All these facts make it amply clear that hanging of Muhammad Afzal Guru was a political stunt taken by the Congress party in view of the general election to be held in the country next year. Like the execution of prominent Kashmiri liberation leader, Muhammad Maqbool Butt, in February 1984, Guru’s hanging contains a message to the Kashmiris that they would continue to be made sacrificial lambs for political game in the so-called largest democracy of the world.

The story doesn’t end here. Following the hanging, New Delhi has been resorting to subject the people of occupied Kashmir to collective punishment by imposing curfew from time to time, putting the entire Hurriyet leadership behind the bars or under house arrest, arresting hundreds of youth and using brute force on the peaceful protests against this unjust action. The use of brutal force has already led to the killing of three innocent people and injuring of scores of others.

India’s actions against Kashmiris expose its claims of being a democratic country. The international community must hold New Delhi accountable for its actions and pressurise it to return the body of Afzal Guru to his family to prevent further bloodshed in the occupied territory.

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