Calcutta, Feb. 10: Human rights organisations across the country have condemned the hanging of Afzal Guru, complaining that the government carried out the execution without allowing him to exhaust a “judicial recourse” after the President refused to pardon him.
The Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) today held a rally on the Calcutta Book Fair grounds to oppose Afzal’s execution as well as capital punishment.
Rights activist Sujato Bhadra said that unlike S.A.R. Geelani, the college teacher who was acquitted in the Parliament attack case, Guru did not get legal support for his defence in the trial court.
“The higher courts later did not address his complaints against faulty trial. He was also denied the right to seek a judicial review of the presidential rejection of his appeal for clemency,” Bhadra said.
Veteran journalist Praful Bidwai said that unlike Ajmal Kasab who had been filmed during his killing spree in Mumbai, there was “no direct and concrete evidence” of Afzal’s role in the conspiracy behind the attack on Parliament.
“Afzal’s hanging is a shame on Indian democracy,” Bidwai said at the rally.
The Supreme Court had rejected the contention that Afzal was not given sufficient legal help.
APDR secretary Dhiraj Sengupta sought an independent inquiry into complaints of Afzal’s faulty trial as well as the abolition of the death sentence. “Several Supreme Court and high court judges have written to the President Pranab Mukherjee urging him to commute death sentences in more than 10 cases,” Sengupta said.
The Delhi-based Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) called the execution and the “new practice of carrying them out secretively” as “most reprehensible when a bench of the highest court is currently considering the constitutionality of death penalty itself”.