Kasab was a terrorist from across the border – a man who was seen killing innocent Indians, by millions, almost live on TV! He had to be hanged and announcing it in advance could have created international cross-border tension. His secret hanging was understandable though the political calculations in the times of a fast rising pro-Narendra Modi wave and an intention to extract credit was apparent. Although there was euphoria around the Kasab hanging, the fact is that the hanging didn't benefit the government – it at best reduced ammunition in the hands of the BJP to criticize Congress. The government apparently didn't learn lessons from that episode. With the intention of creating another wave of euphoria, this time they executed Afzal Guru in a similar fashion. Guru, however, can by no stretch of imagination be equated with Kasab. In fact, his is a case where the veracity about his very involvement has been questioned by far too many intellectuals, Arundhati Roy included. In the book titled 13 December, a Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament, Praful Bidwai – one of the contributors – makes a most compelling argument. Afzal was tried under POTA, but sentenced under the Indian Penal Code. POTA clearly differentiates between committing a terrorist act resulting in death (punishable by death) and conspiracy in the act (punishable by life imprisonment). While the book finds out endless loopholes in the government theory and charges created on Afzal, the way he was threatened and tortured, at least one thing is very clear – that Guru had at the most conspired to the act; yet, that allegation too, as I just said, is very debatable, despite the Supreme Court’s verdict. And if conspiracy is the main crime, then in that case the death sentence itself is a debatable punishment, though I have to accept that like many others – before I had read enough on the matter and especially this particular book – I too was happy at the death sentence and unhappy at the delay in the hanging, since the media was running its own judgment on who the culprit was and creating a massive villain out of Guru.

But today, upon hearing the news of his hanging, I am shocked! I have three key questions running in my mind:

1. Is the Indian State so weak that it cannot bravely announce the hanging of a terrorist in advance and then hang him, as is normal practice? What kind of utter shameful cowardice is this?

2. In these days of growing human rights and the worldwide humane movement towards abolishment of capital punishment, how can a government commit this inhuman act of not informing the family in advance and not allowing a man to meet his family before his death? What kind of a shameful society are we living in, which first gives a debatable verdict and then denies a man his basic rights before something as extreme as capital punishment?

3. Has the government already conceded defeat to Narendra Modi and started doing illogical and mindlessly inhumane acts, which will in no way give them any extra credit? And is there no one with sound mind to advice the roughshod losers out there looking for cheap, atrocious shortcuts to popularity?  Read More....

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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Mumbai has become a living example of how terrorists can come at their will, kill hundreds of innocents, destroy property worth hundreds of crores, instill a state of perpetual fear in those who manage to survive and thereby blatantly spit on the face of Indian sovereignty, time and again. And the best that we can do is offer condolences for the aggrieved, and wait for the next blast to happen. No doubt, we have attained a state of shameless vulnerability and have almost epitomised it. And that is the reason why since the last few years, the incidence of terror attacks has not only seen an unprecedented surge, but has become increasingly blatant, gory and on the face. It is as if a blast or two a year has almost become an annual ritual. And every such blast also blows away into pieces the resolve that our government had taken during the previous attack – calling it a bold step against terror. And the saga continues...

The matter of the fact is that today, not only do we lack political will and stringent comprehensive laws to counter terrorism, our law enforcement agencies don’t even have a proper clue about the same. So much so, the terrorists are better versed about the loopholes in the existing anti-terror laws and abuse it to the hilt. And why shouldn’t they – not only are our laws old and crying to be updated, but they are also laden with loopholes. In spite of trapping the actual culprits, these laws have been used more to settle political and personal scores. Take for instance the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act, better known as POTA, which was used by law enforcement agencies more to arrest people who were innocent rather than actual terrorists. The abuse and misuse of the law was so rampant that the law, for sometime, had to be repealed. For the uninitiated, this law was on the lines of UK’s Prevention of Terrorism Act and America’s PATRIOT Act. However, unlike our law, their laws strengthened the anti-terror operations and aided the counter-terrorism cell. 

The same can be reiterated for the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which, in spite of providing huge strength to counter insurgency operations, failed to reap any fruitful results; on the contrary, the act was seen being abused by police officers in the north-east region of the nation. The next in line is the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act of 1987 (TADA). This anti-terrorist law allowed police to prosecute criminals who have testified to their crime. Out of more than 50,000 people detained under TADA (by 1992, after which the law was invoked on only a few occasions), only 0.80 per cent were actually convicted. The new modification made in these laws post 26/11, and introduction of section 43A has, rather than making the law comprehensive, given more power to police forces. Every time we bring a new law assuming in good faith that the police or the army will use it for the right reasons, we see them misusing the same laws with impunity. Each of these laws, therefore, should come with stringent punishments meted out for their misuse as well.   Read More....

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