Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gallantry awards for terrorists

What next? Gallantry awards for terrorists?
Request for clemency for Afzal is shameful
Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s request for condoning the death penalty imposed on Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal is a new low in Indian politics. For it is not a case of an incumbent chief minister pleading for reprieve for an acquaintance convicted of an ordinary crime; it is a case of condoning high treason. Afzal was involved in murderous, traitorous activities and the sentence has come after the case has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. The judicial system was fair, for another accused, S.A.R. Geelani, was given the benefit of the doubt, even though he was, and still is, wedded to the cause of Kashmiri separatism. Which shows that the judges were not swept off their feet by sentiments. So, the pleading for clemency for Afzal is as despicable as it is disgraceful. That such a request is made, and that too by no less than a person than the chief minister, is in itself a matter of grave concern. Worse, many other J&K politicians have joined the chorus. Omar Abdullah, president of the National Conference and former Union Minister, has also appealed for condoning Afzal's death penalty. "Thousands have been killed here during the last 18 years but that has not helped the return of peace to the state. Hanging Afzal would derail the ongoing peace process," he said.
Then there is Mehbooba Mufti, president of the ruling People's Democratic Party and an ally in the coalition government headed by Azad. She says, "We live in Gandhi's land. Our objective is to win hearts and not hurt them. Carrying out the death sentence in case of Afzal would result in many complications that can adversely affect the confidence building process between the state and the Centre. It will also seriously retard the peace process.” Never before was sophistry more brazen. Mufti talks about “Gandhi’s land,” but has she ever tried to convert the Kashmiri terrorists to the ideals of non-violence and peaceful co-existence? And what is her idea of the “peace process”? Does she expect the Indian state to ignore assault on its most sacrosanct institution, Parliament? Does she want the murderers of cops to go scot-free? The reaction of the ruling Congress Party is even more disconcerting. "We neither endorse nor reject the chief minister's suggestion," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said replying to questions at the party's daily briefing. But, Mr Singhvi, why don’t you reject, if not denounce, Azad’s suggestion? Was ever such a reprehensible suggestion ever made by a chief minister? And what is next in the name of peace process? Gallantry awards for the jihadis who were killed in the attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001?

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