By Twesh Mishra:
Post-independence, the number of death penalties bailed out has drastically contracted. Strangely, the past two decades have witnessed an unprecedented rise in the number of individuals that have been awarded this controversial entity of the Indian judicial system but the number executed is a staggering antonym.
64 years of freedom from the British raj have observed numerous highs and lows for the criminal justice system in our country. The past decade specifically has had unexpected interest being bailed out to judicial proceedings with Jessica Lal, Priyadarshini Matoo and Arushi Talwar being glorified victims and Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru being similarly publicized criminals. What interests an unbiased individual is how the politicization and over promotion of a crime results in its’ importance.
Those who recently escaped the gallows were Jagtar Singh Hawara, assassin of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, cab driver Shiv Kumar for rape and murder of BPO employee Pratibha Srikantamurthy, six convicts of the 2006 Dalit family murder case and contract killer Mani Gopal for murder of the witness, a eunuch, inside the Tis Hazari courtÂ premises in 2003.
But hardly any media organization or the internet savvy self-styled intellectual protagonist took up these cases.
During May 2011, President Pratibha Patil rejected the mercy petitions of death row prisoners Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar and Mahendra Nath Das. While Das was on death row ever since 1997 for committing a murder in Assam, Bhullar was sentenced to death in 2001 for plotting a series of terror attacks in Delhi in 1993 that left nine people dead.
Striking irregularities are being observed to this move. Whereas the rejection of Bhullar’s plea received opposition from various Sikh organizations affiliated to the Khalistan Liberation Front, the hunt for a hangman to execute Das is in progress.
Similar reactions were observed while hanging Auto Shankar in 1995 and Dhananjoy Chatterjee in August 2004. No prominent political organization came to the fore to oppose these hangings hence they were effortlessly executed by none other than India’s most famous hangman, Nata Mullick.
Mullick’s death in 2009 has been a blessing in disguise for Das. Though the authorities are keen to carry out their duties specifically in this case and Mullick’s son Mahadeb, too is being approached for this nefarious activity.
Since Das, the murderer of one individual does not have the support of a religious or political establishment; his punishment is a priority for the state.
The government is conveniently overlooking the chastisements of Afzal Guru convicted for the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament killing 14 people and Ajmal Kasab who killed 166 individuals in the 2008 Mumbai attack due to the international glare and support of religious as well as terror establishments.
What appalls the common man are 64 years of hypocrisy that we Indians lived in. We claim to be a sovereign nation yet fail to punish criminals for waging war against our country and are confident of hanging someone who murdered a single individual.
This independence day let’s take a pledge to eliminate pretense from our country. It’s high time we admit our flaws and look forward to nullifying them rather than overlooking and further multiplying them.
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and a student of Journalism from University of Delhi.