New Delhi, April 01, 2013: Prof. Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, Delhi University professor and Kashmiri civil rights activist, speaks exclusively with Mohd. Ismail Khan of TwoCircles.net, on how Indian Government was wrong in executing Afzal Guru.
“I first got some information about secret hanging plans of Afzal Guru when unexpected curfew was imposed in the valley on 9 February after Fajar prayers. When some people inquired about it, CRPF personnel said ‘Afzal tu ab gaya’. When I got the information, I immediately called Afzal’s lawyers, and his wife Tabassum but all of them were unaware. After some time in the morning I finally got the confirmed news, and it was a big shock for all of us,” said Prof. Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, Delhi University professor and Kashmiri civil rights activist, who was earlier accused no.1 in the Parliament attack case, but was later acquitted by the Supreme Court.
SAR Geelani believes that Indian Government trampled its own Constitution by hanging Afzal Guru in so hush-hush manner. Prof. Geelani said, “Government not only violated Afzal’s personal rights, but quashed its own Constitution. Legally if mercy petition is rejected by the President, the petitioner in this case Afzal’s wife Tabassum, had to be informed, but Government refrained from doing it. Afzal’s only son Ghalib was not allowed meet him for one last time. I would say Indian Government crushed basic human values.”
Congress wanted to incline towards soft Hindutva by executing Afzal
Prof. Geelani, charging Congress of playing cheap electoral politics said, “The only motive for Congress party behind this execution drama was 2014 elections, keeping its electoral considerations in mind.”
He believes that the Congress party, by executing Afzal, wanted to rob off BJP’s biggest poll plank, by sending a message to extremists that the party is not soft on terrorism. Prof. Geelani said that by doing so Congress wanted to incline towards soft Hindutva for 2014 electoral plans.
Afzal didn’t get a fair trial, sentence to death on fabricated evidence
Prof. SAR Geelani, who himself was acquitted in the same case in which Afzal Guru was executed, said Afzal’s whole trail was distorted. Pointing out some prominent lapses in his trail Geelani said, the whole prosecution case against Afzal was based on confessional statement given in police custody and a deposition of police Inspector in trail court that Afzal identified the dead bodies of militants. In fact Afzal denied it, but courts took the deposition as gospel of truth. Afzal couldn’t contest that deposition because he was not having a lawyer in the whole trail court proceedings. One junior advocate Neeraj Bansal was provided to Afzal, but Afzal wrote to the court that he doesn’t want this lawyer as he thought he was bias against him, because that advocate didn’t met him a single time. Even that advocate gave in writing to the court that he doesn’t want to represent Afzal, but court insisted that advocate to just assist court in the trail if not to represent Afzal.
Geelani holds the opinion that trail court hearings is the most crucial point of legal proceedings, that is the time when all the witness and evidences are evaluated, after that in high court and supreme court the judgments are based on the evaluation done in trail court and in that crucial period Afzal was legally unrepresented.
Geelani also added that the police inspector HS Gill who gave a deposition in the trail court against Afzal which Supreme Court also accepted as gospel of truth, that same inspector during the continuance of trail was arrested and sent to Tihar jail in corruption case.
Geelani said that according to the Indian Constitution, to sentence someone to death you have to proof the crime beyond reasonable doubt, and to prove it one need to have direct incriminating evidence. But in case of Guru, Geelani said, “Delhi High court observed and put on record that police has fabricated evidence and forged the documents in Afzal’s case. Supreme Court exonerated Afzal in arms and explosives act and being part of any terrorist outfit. Can you send someone to gallows on the basis of fabricated evidence or forged documents, that’s what they have done?”
He also added that Supreme Court, by stating that ‘to satisfy collective conscience of the Indian society Afzal should be hanged’ made it clear that it was just a political execution. Furthering his debate on alleged unfair trail of Afzal, Geelani said it is clear that whole Indian establishment colluded to murder Afzal and the legitimacy was given by the courts.
Afzal was different from what was portrayed in the Media
SAR Geelani speaks about Afzal as the man he knows personally. He said Afzal was a fine man, a well-read person; he wasn’t the man as being portrayed in Indian media. According to Prof. Geelani during his weekly visits to Afzal in Tihar, he had to carry at least two books for him.
He said, “Afzal was a man who propagated equal rights for every person in the world, he did not have a narrow mentality. He use to read lot of books, he was fond of the poetry of Iqbal and Ghalib. He used to read books written by Syed Qutub, Noam Chomsky, Arundathi Roy, and Dr. Ali Sharyati of Iran.”
Prof Geelani added, “He was having a small radio, from which he often tuned to BBC to get world news. He use to read Kashmiri newspapers like Kashmir Times and other Urdu newspapers and often used to write letters to the editors on current topics or on Kashmir conflict which was published in many of them. He was a pious, well learned person, not an illiterate bigot as portrayed in the media. He was a very good Muslim.”
Geelani also shared that when he visited Tihar jail, “no official was able to look into his eyes due to shame” on what was been done. He said that after Afzal’s execution one Tihar official told him in Hindi, ‘Badi gandi politics hai, aache admi ko kha gayi’.
Afzal was never been scared of death sentence
Prof. Geelani said that Afzal Guru didn’t have any belief in
Indian political system, and was against mercy pleas filed on behalf of him
twice by her wife Tabassum. In fact he even wrote a letter to Syed Ali Shah
Geelani making clear his discontent on mercy pleas.
According to Geelani, Afzal has never showed any fear on the death sentence awarded to him, in fact Geelani said, Afzal told him once, how much life anyways will be left for him, if he walks out of jail, and hence ‘I am preparing for hereafter’. Afzal according to Geelani was aware from where he came from and where he has to go.
‘Afzal Guru will become a symbol of Kashmiri self-determination movement’
“In 1984 when Maqbool Bhatt was hanged in Tihar jail, Kashmiris were unified at that time. But now at this time every Kashmiri is fully aware of how systematically Afzal is being deprived of justice. It will send a message to Kashmiri’s that there is no institution in India where they can expect justice. Eventually Afzal Guru will become a sign of all this,” Prof Geelani observed while speaking about the legacy of Afzal Guru.
Prof. Geelani believes that the way Afzal went to gallows smiling, becomes a rejuvenating factor in Kahmiri struggle, and Afzal becomes a symbol of Kashmiri self-determination movement.