Daya Varma and Vinod Mubayi


As stated above, the execution of Afzal Guru was not only a mockery of justice but also a display of inhuman conduct on the part of the government towards the family, especially the wife and the son, of the victim. It was natural and justified that voices against Guru’s execution were raised by the democratic strata of India.


Legal executions in India, however, are rare. So what has been done to Afzal Guru cannot be
done to many. The police and paramilitary forces, both at the federal and state levels, have discovered the system of “encounter killing” to remove opponents they deem undesirable and irremediable and will continue to accomplish their objectives through this undemocratic
process. But this remains confined to certain areas (e.g., Kashmir, the north-east) and groups (e.g. Maoists) and cannot become a wide-spread phenomenon.


However, as we said in the concluding paragraph of the article above, the Afzal Guru episode has proven very useful to the government. Not only it has evoked almost universal approval of all the political parties, communal and secular, communists and Hindu fundamentalists, it has also diverted the attention of human rights activists, and left radicals away from one of the most important social and political problems of inhumanity in India, that is the brutality and injustice towards women and girls, which was brought out so clearly in the Justice Verma Commission report.


Even the successful General strike by a joint effort of all the trade unions, either unaffiliated to any party, or affiliated to the BJP, the Congress and the Communists, did not have the dignity of women and girls as one of the demands; the only demand unrelated to working-class demands was the one related to the reduction in the price of diesel and electricity, which they felt was a more compelling need of common people.


It is ironic that the most social pressing problems of India, namely brutality against women and female infanticide, poverty, caste oppression and communalism, fail to invoke the anger of the people and remain peripheral to the activities even of communists. As to women’s problem, society seems to think that it is up to women to handle it. The bombardment of electronic messages after the brutal rape of the Delhi medical student has stopped. Somehow it seems that Indian activists follow the Western trends; news gets old and the old issues are forgotten or filed away as they do not interest the potential audience anymore.

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