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When Humanity Is Put To Shame #Afzal Guru

By Manisha Yadav:

“He struggled hard to earn a living and he had decided to bring me and Ghalib to Delhi. Like any other family we dreamed of living together peacefully and bringing up our children, giving them a good education and seeing them grow up to be good human beings. That dream was cut short.” — words of the bereaved wife of Afzal Guru, (mentioned in Outlook) as she recalls about this young man from the merchant family of Sopore in Kashmir who had dreamt like anybody would. But in the turn of events to come, Afzal’s choices turned out to be unfortunate.

afzal-guru

That morning, Operation Three- Star was successful; it was on the 9th of February, Afzal Guru, the man who was convicted for the attack of Parliament in 2001 was finally laid to rest just a week after his mercy plea was rejected by the President.

What made this execution an attention grabber for the media and the country was the manner in which the sentence was carried out. Why was the decision to hang him made in such haste without reflecting on the consequences? Why was there an unsettling voice of the family and the people that echoed in the land of Kashmir? Why was there a grim response to all those questions that have remained unanswered till date?

If there was an ulterior motive behind the execution of Afzal is the question that will haunt all of us. Or is this just another eye-wash, or a replay of a similar incident that took place three months ago with Ajmal Kasab. Doubts, questions and condemnations have time and again pointed toward the actions of the Government.

At face value, the execution calls for the right action as conveyed to us by the Home Ministry; a mere warning for those who put national security at stake. But a deeper level of thought and understanding of events that correspond to this case brings a different perspective altogether. First, the lack of legal intervention in the case where the accused was hardly given a chance to interact. Second, failure of proper investigation from the police and the considerations of the judiciary, which rejected the case stating that the decision was taken based on the ‘collective conscience’ of the people. Adding to this judgment was the confession of Afzal which gave them the leverage to proceed with his sentence. On the other hand, Ajmal Kasab, the convict of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai was ensured all the legalities and investigations in the case. Third, this execution is seen as an act of condemnation, a brazen injustice to humanity as the family of Afzal wasn’t informed nor allowed to meet their son before his hanging. So, why this unfair delay and action on Afzal so late?

The fact that he was made to wait for 12 long years and then sentenced one fine morning itself raises many doubts. For instance, in the cases of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, the convicts death sentences have still been put on hold despite their petition for mercy. If as per government’s stance stating that the country’s security would have been affected if they hadn’t executed Afzal, then why do the planners of Rajiv Gandhi murder have all the right for consideration? Another contradiction can be that of Sarabjith Singh, an Indian national falsely accused of being involved in the terrorist attacks in Pakistan who has been behind bars for 22 years now and is still pleading for mercy. The only difference here is that the president of Pakistan allows a chance for further investigation to prove his innocence which otherwise should have been given to Afzal in our country too. Sadly, the hasty decision has only become an act of retribution (toward the kashmiris) rather than restoration of the situation.

Digging deep into the root of the case can in some way broaden our intuition to seek answers to the question raised above. It all seems like Afzal was a mere pawn played by the political forces; this time the dice was rolled bearing the political gains (in the light of upcoming general elections 2014 ) that the ruling government would benefit from his death. His death not only instills the lost hope of people but also manages to bag the majority votes from the middle class Hindu sect.

His death has only opened the Pandora’s box of troubles to come for the government; this time from the battered souls of Kashmir. Afzal is a reflection of Kashmiris’ hapless and helpless situation wired in an almost disregarded identity for several decades now. People of Kashmir were bereft of an opinion and so was the family of Afzal who were kept uninformed in a gamble of secrecy maintained by the home ministry.

In all its due rights a democratic nation should call for peace loving beliefs rather than fill everyone’s heart with hate and vengeance, for death or execution alone cannot deter crimes or the offenders.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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