By Mohammad Jamil
Today, Afzal Guru’s 5th death anniversary is being observed who was hanged on 9th February 2013 for allegedly having played a central role in the conspiracy leading to terror attack on the Indian Parliament on 13th December 2001. He had been accused of providing hideout and logistics for the terrorists in New Delhi. Within 24 hours, the Delhi Police Special Cell (notorious for its fake encounter killings) claimed it had cracked the case. On 15th December it arrested, what it called, the mastermind, Professor S.A.R. Geelani, in New Delhi, and Showkat Guru and his cousin Afzal Guru in Srinagar. They were sentenced to death on 18 December 2002 by the trial court. However, Delhi High Court had confirmed death sentence to Shaukat Guru and Muhammad Afzal Guru, but acquitted Geelani for lack of evidence.
In August, 2005, the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence to Afzal Guru. The two most incriminating pieces of evidence against Afzal Guru were a cell phone and a laptop, which were not sealed as evidence, which should have been done. During the trial it emerged that the hard disk of the laptop had been accessed after the arrest. It only contained the fake home ministry passes and the fake identity cards that the terrorists used to access the parliament. This means that laptop was tampered to get Afzal Guru indicted. The police witness had said that he sold the crucial sim that connected all the accused in the case to one another to Guru on 4 December 2001. But the prosecution’s own call records showed the sim was actually operational from 6 November 2001.
Many analysts believed that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had engineered the attack on the Parliament to defame Pakistan, and consequently give the US an opportunity to turn the heat on the mujahideen in Kashmir who are waging a legitimate struggle against Indian occupation. It was believed by many as insiders’ job, as no outsider could reach the most protected area. On July 14, 2013 a former Under Secretary of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs R.V.S. Mani had submitted a declaration to the country’s highest court, the Supreme Court of India, that both the 2001 terrorist attack on Indian Parliament and 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack were staged. Many describe such operations as classic false flag operations, deliberately initiated by Indian intelligence agencies aimed at achieving certain specific objectives vis-à-vis to blame Pakistan for supporting Kashmiri freedom fighters.
Anyhow, December 2001 terror attack was first such an attack launched on the heavily guarded parliamentary complex. Earlier, Sikh separatists had assassinated Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. And a Tamil suicide bomber had killed her son Rajiv Gandhi. It is therefore wrong to say that Pakistan is involved in every terrorist act in India. On 10th February 2013, Arundhati Roy wrote an article in “the Guardian” titled ‘The hanging of Afzal Guru is a stain on India’s democracy’; giving details of attack on the parliament on 13th December 2001 revealing that the terror act was staged. She wrote that despite gaping holes in the case against Afzal Guru, all India’s institutions played a part in putting a Kashmiri ‘terrorist’ to death. Hours after the attack, India’s Minister of Home Affairs L.K. Advani had insinuated Pakistan.
While upholding death sentence to Afzal Guru, the Indian Supreme Court had acknowledged that the evidence was circumstantial: “As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy.” But then, shockingly, it went on to say: “The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.” Mani Shankar Aiyar, member of the Indian National Congress party and who was a part of first Cabinet of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written that evidence was fizzy and Supreme Court relied exclusively on circumstantial evidence to sentence him to death to satisfy the ‘collective conscience’ of the country.”
Mani Shankar Aiyar had rightly described the ‘collective conscience of the nation’ as the rarest of rare judgments. Even National Conference had criticized the government for not handing over the remains of Afzal Guru to his family members. The questions were asked whether Afzal Guru got a fair trial, after his secret military style execution. Whether to invoke the most flawed theory of satisfying the so-called collective conscience of the society to justify a capital punishment was right will remain a contentious issue for a long time to come.