The government was aware of the political consequences of the secret and sudden hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru, the prime accused in the 2001 parliament attack. However, it did not care for that. Till today, the voice is being raised in the Kashmir valley, which was under curfew for so many days after Guru’s execution and the government’s intention is also questioned.
What the government wanted to prove without informing his family members about his execution? Probably, the Home Ministry has the answer. The hanging still remained controversial and Chief Justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir’s recent statement added fuel to the issue. He said that the families of death row convicts should be informed in advance about their execution.
Justice Kabir’s remarks came against the backdrop of Guru’s family, which was not informed about his hanging in due time. However, he wanted not to put any comments on the issue saying the past incidents should not be raked up again.
The issue was once again raised on April 7 when Justice Kabir along with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar was addressing a joint press conference after the conclusion of a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts in New Delhi.
When asked about Guru’s execution and whether the convict’s family had been given an opportunity to approach court for stay of his execution, Kumar did not want to be dragged into controversy. It is worthless to ask him such question as He can comment on the things that will happen in future, not the incidents that happened in the past.
It can be noted that the mercy petitions of many convicts have been pending before the Supreme Court. But the Law Minister did not comment on the sub-judice matter. Even, he cannot speak about the delays in deciding the mercy petitions in the past. But, Justice Kabir handled the situation in a perfect manner saying “If a death penalty were to be awarded and it is there under the system then the quicker things are done the better it is for everybody.” The comment also came against the backdrop of rejection of mercy petitions of Veerappan’s four associates and the Supreme Court staying their hanging and also the apex court staying the execution of eight death row prisoners last evening.
Whatever the government and CJI clarified on the issue, the nation will not forget the protests and series of curfews in Kashmir after the hanging of Guru. His family sought justice as the letter about Guru’s execution reached two days after he was hanged on February 9. Justice Kabir did not prefer to rake up the issue again, but he will never avoid the principle that the family members of the convict were always informed when the things would happen.