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Afzal Guru’s Secretive Hanging Lays Bare The Truth Of ‘Collective Conscience’

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“After an exceptionally bad tenure, you do need to do a ‘Jeranimo’ in Abottabad, or an Afzal Guru in Tihar. Nothing less can ensure you another term.” – Sheeba Aslam Fehmi

I have wondered how many forms and versions of truth exist. Whose truth is the supreme truth? Is truth what we are told and taught or is truth in the questions that we pose and are then manipulated? A coin has two surfaces and so does every story or drama or news. With the deeper retrospect of my thoughts and more importantly my consciousness, I have stopped believing in truth, which for me has become fabricated. I have found that truth isn’t what builds this world which we inhabit and live in. It is merely an illusion, setup to stop us from wandering into the realm of the unanswered questions and covertly concealed actualities. The world that we live in isn’t our constructed idea but of those few who have defined our constricted collective norms and where we are mere pawns of the will of that ruling class.

Afzal Guru1

A year from now, on this month, the Times of India had this article titled ‘Afzal Guru’s Hanging: Congress Gets Tough On Terror Ahead Of 2014 Battle’, I wondered then, was his hanging justified or was it a trump card or a tactical change used by the state to influence the nationalist vote bank. Is this the cost of a human life? It violates every aspect of rights that one is born with in this ‘free’ country; rights which one is inalienable to. This cycle, mind you, isn’t the case with Guru or terrorists or Maoists but it is within our very society that we live in and where we have this liberal option of selective viewing and selective feeding.

Before proceeding, I request you all to get this notion out of your head that I write this as a Muslim or of being ‘anti-national’. I write this in the larger context that is human life worth finishing for vote bank politics? I sympathize with Guru for being treated as an icon of suppression by the powerful. I sympathize with him for there are two truths to every story and we heard the truth of the state and ignored Afzal’s truth written time and again in letters to his lawyers and wife; letters that the media never published or the court rooms chose not to hear, nor were they talked about on TV shows. I sympathize with him because he was sacrificed to full fill and satisfy the hunger that the government had to appease the masses when a disturbance began in their perceived ‘ideal’ society. It’s was a mockery of our democratic country. It’s was a mockery to the human life. Using power to kill and taking a life to impress isn’t justified. We, the vote bank, are like puppets. Like Pinocchio. No free will-no free life but controlled by these puppeteers. We vote for them and then they suck us up and promote us to kill ourselves. We do so but in despair and shouting. I wonder where the voice of those killing themselves goes to. Heaven or Hell? Or is it just lost in this huge vacuum of ignorance and silence we so casually have adapted to and live with?

Many argue that his hanging was inevitable and something that came in the realm of being an anti-national element. I make no attempts to support the government or Guru but simply wonder at what the ‘real’ truth was? Was the real truth what the state fed us to unite under the umbrella term of nationalism/patriotism, or was the truth penned down by Guru to his lawyer? I have questions that need answering. Questions like why wasn’t his truth verified? Why wasn’t he appointed an active lawyer? Why did we choose only to believe the truth of the state alone? Why did we not make an attempt to look at his truth?

Arundhati Roy in The Hindu in her piece ‘A perfect day for democracy’ states: ‘But now that Afzal Guru has been hanged, I hope our collective conscience has been satisfied. Or is our cup of blood still only half full?’ She has gone about revealing startling facts that even if a common man was to lawyer Afzal guru (He wasn’t even appointed a lawyer but a junior lawyer who kept mum over the questions of prosecution, neither did he cross verify the evidences nor go and meet Afzal guru in prison) s/he would have convinced that judge who was so helpless to utter words of such power to the defence lawyer to carry out the proceeding as per the procedural law and action in court but was extremely judgemental and convinced by facts that he immediately ceased the existence of a man whose story could have been told or heard or for the very sake of humanity presented (I write this as a very quizzed and intrigued citizen).

I want to ask Arudhati Roy what is our collective consciousness? Is there any collective consciousness that we Indians carry within ourselves or that sown by the state? Of course we do have a lot of collective consciousness when it comes to our communities or our groups or to our religion or our Indian traditional values. That is what our collective consciousness is. We live for our own identity on the basis of caste, creed, sect, religion, class, sexuality, gender, community, political groups but do not have the aspiration or the will to include others who do not match us in any of our collective consciousness as one of our own. Raise questions and introspect deeply over your own ‘consciousness’ and then over your conceived constricted ‘collective consciousness’.

Well, throughout the proceeding of the case, from the capture to the sentencing, the government shouted out loud about its triumph and success. But where was the cheer yet again when they hung him? At times I wonder, why the secrecy? He was a criminal (as per Indian state) who should have been hung and we as citizens should have been told for that is what was desired; to appease us and to win our trust and votes. They hung him in complete secrecy fearing rioting, arson and more attacks. Where does the feeling of this so caring and heart full government goes when it squashes out the peasant, the farmer, and the protesters? I forgot Afzal guru was a ‘terrorist’ and a threat, not a human to be tried like one. Communal rioting, killing, murders and rapes are just act of violence and carried out by low shady immoral characters that are not threats, and then if they prove to be minors, they get away with sentencing under the minor laws.

But whatever be it, he was a man who brought the political parties and leaders together to celebrate the fabricated politicized success. The family of Afzal guru was informed via post and the matter that was then being looked into was whether they were aware of his hanging. Reliable, speedy and effective communication had been done. News channel showed their scintillating effects of breaking news that Afzal guru had been hung and they, with their sleazy and foxy opportunism, woke up the nation as one bringing about a consensus, before a thought could be given. Now I wonder how come the news channel knew and the common man didn’t. Oh sorry, I forgot. The common man isn’t supposed to know but to accept and digest and live like a mango man. I see this as a mere strategy to unite all on a cup of morning tea and biscuits and to give a Santa Claus gift to all us mango mass who wanted something new and satisfying from the government and they surprisingly responded well.

Let us be mango people and celebrate our full or half empty victory.

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  1. Anirvan S

    Indeed a piece that makes one think. Even a blind -believer in Indian Constitutional machinery like me. So in that utterly “right”-labelled capacity I want to ask the author whether he did justice to democracy, as he define it, by presenting only his side of he story based on claims by one “Arundhati Roy”, another author of great reputation for being extremely pessimistic about India’s reputation. Arundhati Roy indeed has highest moral values, sometimes approaching the threshold of anarchy, when it comes to human right and expression of constitutionally granted freedoms, especially to the minorities (and these for India alone; for west she has a completely different, opposite, view). I always wondered why…

    Our country’s Judicial system may be slow. It may sometimes be anti-poor man in its way of approach to day-to-day dealings. But it is effective. Sometimes to the extent to become ruthless. It seldom failed anyone who approached it correctly, without prejudice. Believe me, I have watched this happening for last 12 years myself… And seeing that I can assure you of one thing, Afzal Guru was in no way misrepresented by the state. It wasn’t simply possible in the way you describe (well, of course, based on ever-believable reporting of actual circumstances by Ms. Arundhati Roy). Judicial system, may sometimes be leaned to accept the guilt of an innocent based on evidences provided, in minor or semi-major cases. But a total mistrial and meting out capital punishment to an innocent is never going to happen. That’s for movies and legends. And it’s as far as the faulty representation is concerned…I am no one to judge him.

    Our present day networks of communication exposes us to the world. The author is well aware of the fact that revolutions are not a phenomenon of days bygone. So why isn’t there a revolution in India still if it’s such a failure as a democracy?

    A country is a collection of people with similar goal and mentality. Collective conscience is the stuff of psychological analysis, a normal citizen doesn’t really give a shit to whether the man who attacked parliament was hanged or not. Kashmir, that is another matter altogether… politics of rights and independence has got so much mixed up with an agenda of Pakistani state to wage a perpetual war with India that every line has blurred; now every move by the Indian decision-making mechanism is greeted by mass-rioting and politically motivated civil disobedience in the valley.

    Voicing opinion against abuse of Human Rights, a gift that has been enshrined in our Constitution, is moral need today but one has to be intelligent enough to handle it. One should also keep in mind that the very next chapter in Constitution is Fundamental Duties. When you want the power, you can’t shirk your responsibilities in the name of democracy and revolt against the upper echelons of state hierarchy (decision-makers).

    I think every-one is entitled to there own opinion about the state-craft. But to dismiss the whole democracy and country, as is done by likes of Arundhati Roy, is utterly irresponsible. Freedom always has its own cost, so does democracy. The way you presented human rights here, is only possible in a scenario where inter-country boundaries and prejudice does not exist. Till then, rights and duties should be balanced, either voluntarily or by enforcement.

    1. Saem hashmi

      Thank you for the feed back. My point in the entire article is that (in case you have read his version of truth and letters to lawyers and heard hi interviews) that were they verified? Even for one instance if we take up the arguments that he was telling the truth then were those he named involved in the case hearing? why was the hearing so secretive or selective in it approach. I do not deny the fact that he may be a terrorist for the larger truth isn’t known but my basic point is that does the hanging come as a result of the punishment or to appease the masses? I haven’t used the term human right but human life which are two very different terms. Our democracy (in case you read history) is a complex issue that originates out of a particular section of the society back then. Believe\e me as you say in the last two years staying in the worst hit areas of rural India I can assure back to you our democracy has been very effective in the realms of urban life but has failed in many a sense to efficiently cater to the greater population. I am not anti-state or anti-national but the consciousness in me doesn’t allow me to believe certain one-sided fed things and to some up your last line makes me think hard yet again: Voluntary rights or enforced rights- It critiques the very notion of democracy and human right perspective that is carried in your argument 🙂

  2. Deep–Kolkata

    A well writtened article. Kudos to the author!

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