Saving Terrorist Mohammed Afzal

September 30, 2006

Nothing much makes an old news-warrior like me sit up and say "Holy Smokes, are you effing serious?" nowadays----except perhaps "little people" break-dancing in front of Rajnikant.

Which is why when I heard that Kashmiris had taken to the streets in support of a terrorist, I was like "Tell me something I don't know already". Also expected was Mehbooba Mufti asking that Mohammed Afzal, Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist mastermind, not be put to death----after all she is one of the biggest supporters of Kashmiri extremists...sorry misguided youth. The "spare the terrorist" crowd is also blessed by the august presence of Ghulam Nabi Azad---again no surprise there.

Also according to script is the coverage of the whole issue---Mohammed Afzal's tear-choked wife moaning the fact that her husband has lost all faith in the Indian justice system and the focus on his seven year old child --- after all if the bleeding-heart liberal press doesn't give us these compelling images, who will? Obviously, they will not show the tears of the widow of the Parliament guards killed and how their children are coping --- because they were guards whose job it was to die. Tough luck. This is different --- this is a soft-hearted Jaish-e-Mohammed killer mastermind we are talking about. Which is why he deserves our full attention and sympathy.

But then I read this. And I have this "Whoa dude" moment.

The main opposition party, the National Conference, has backed this argument.[to release Afzal]

"The court had given a verdict in the case of Azhar Masood. He was let go and the government of India saved that situation and may be rightly so.

"They can do the same thing - defer and postpone this punishment so that it sends a positive signal," said Mehboob Baig, Provincial President, National Conference.

Azhar Masood ! If I am not wrong, Mr. Baig is referring to this guy---Maulana Azhar Masood. Founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed, considered to be one of the world's most dangerous terrorists, who was "let go" as part of the hostage deal for the hijacking of IC 814. This Baig chap thinks that the "government of India saved that situation and may be rightly so" and also "sent a positive signal" by handing him over to the Taliban in Kandahar. Which is what he, in a barely concealed fashion, proposes the Indian government do with Mohammed Afzal: defer and postpone his punishment so that he can be let go when the next flight is hijacked or the next VIP kidnapped.


Let me clarify---it's not Mr Mehboob's Baig's love for Azhar Masood that surprises me but the fact that he would choose to articulate his true loyalties thusly.

I have always maintained that the death penalty is too easy for terrorists, far better to make them stay in solitary for the rest of their lives. Also dying makes them martyrs---which is what these Fidayeen types want in the first place. So putting them to death plays into their hands or more precisely into the hands of their handlers----the merry men in Islamabad.

However it is also undeniable that Mohammed Afzal alive will act as a lightning rod for incidents like the IC 814 hijack, a fact that people like Mehboob Baig are counting on. Which means as long as he is alive in an Indian jail, many innocent lives are at risk.

This is also around this time that the issue of capital punishment is brought up--mostly as a smokescreen for those with an agenda. Whether retributive justice is as barbaric as the crime is indeed a morally ambiguous topic with strong bodies of reasoning on both sides. I do not intend to go it into here but just point out that the people who are campaigning for clemency for Mohammed Afzal are not the ones who have a general issue with capital punishment---they just do not want a fine man who attacked the Indian parliament to die. After all he is not Salman Rushdie or the Danish cartoonist.

Let me conclude with an anecdote. Dhananjay Chatterjee was a security guard who was put to death for the rape and murder of a 14 year old in August 2004. When some nuns (if I remember correctly from the murdered girl's school) were asked whether as women of the cloth they supported the death sentence on Dhananjay, their reply was: "We pray for his soul"---nunspeak for "Yes we want him dead".

Likewise I also pray for the soul of Mohammed Afzal.

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September 30, 2006
09:29 AM

am for capital punishment in certain exceptions...this s one of them...after due process of law he has been found guilty and he should receive the death penalty

the political posturing and maneuvering is to be (sadly) expected: the government should stand firm and let the verdict be carried out

September 30, 2006
09:53 PM

am actually against death penalty. dont see what it does.

but love the line about nuns. i do think they said that. :)

October 2, 2006
04:55 AM

How Politicians and militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir can pressure to forgive who have kill 7 person in Indian parliament house...!!! Its really sad ... all human right organizations and NGO don't stop militancy but they pressure Indian judiciary and army/police to save killers..!!

October 2, 2006
05:01 AM

Yes I agree. Militants kill thousand of people worldwide so they don't have right to appeal in court or to the President to survive death penalty/Hanging. There should be some revolution on internet and print media i.e. english/national newspapers and regional dailies to voice upon strict penalty for all such terrorists and there should be no politics or sympathy for them.

October 2, 2006
05:30 AM

He deserves to die. This is one of the cases where death penalty is justified.The Government should not back down.

October 2, 2006
07:56 AM

Totally agree: hang him! Otherwise we pay with our taxes for this terrorist to be kept in jail. And worse still, if he remains alive he will be incentive for some other terrorist to hijack, kidnap or kill in the future. Only way to deal with terrorists is to try them, and if convicted, it must be death penalty. After all death is their trade, so why such tears if death finally catches up with these murderers.

October 2, 2006
08:12 AM

dear old normal schwarkkof (sp?) of first iraq war fame was asked on a christian TV channel about forgiveness for the 9/11 bombers. He said, forgiveness is for God. My job is to make sure that they (the bombers) meet Him.

October 2, 2006
01:23 PM

I think he deserves some thing severe than the death.. unfortunately its not there.. N This show how faithful our politicians are for our country. If this kind of sympathy is continued , i am sure one day india will be in the hands of Terrorists.

October 2, 2006
03:44 PM

justice, they say should be fair and swift and seen to be done

and this case makes one wonder about justice delivery in the other two incidents...the sikh murders in the wake of indira's assassination and the first mumbai bombing

politics as usual?

October 3, 2006
08:25 PM

@Temporal: Aah but do they have the balls?

@Nandhu: Hmm.

@Ikramudin: Absolutely.

@Monika, Apollo, Anamika, BD and SR: It's good to see 5 successive comments agreeing. Usually by this time we see a so-called "liberal" weeping about the grave injustices in Kashmir and how that in a convulted way justifies sparing the life of this Afzal guy.

October 4, 2006
02:04 AM

Hopefully the Indian Government would not follow the Indonesian way and set free a "bloody" terrorist...just the way "Abu Bakar Bashir" was allowed to walk off.

As for the people of J&K, what I am stuck at is, "How can you help those who don't want to help themselves?".

A personal example, when I was waiting for a bus at China Town in NYC for Boston, I saw this Kashmiri dude sporting a t-shirt with a slogan, "Free Kashmir". Now I was pissed I walked upto him and questioned him from who he wants freedom. Hesitant and then he answered, "India". And I gave him the most filthiest look and most abusive words I could think of at that time.

I mean here this man wants freedom from a country that is doing whatever it takes to ensure peace and harmony in their region. Thousands of our soldiers are killed every year for their protection and in return instead of working with us...they want Freedom.

October 4, 2006
02:35 AM

Those human rights types are actually Criminal Rights Activists. They always side with the criminal. They always fight for the human rights of those who VIOLATED the human rights of others. But NONE OF THEM EVER fights for the human rights of those whose basic human right - the right to live - was violated by these scumbags. More on it here:

October 4, 2006
04:16 AM

@Greatbong, You write:
"Usually by this time we see a so-called "liberal" weeping about the grave injustices in Kashmir and how that in a convulted way justifies sparing the life of this Afzal guy."

I support independence for Kashmir and believe grave injustices are done there- according to your definition I might be a 'liberal'.

But, I do not condone actions of Mohammed Afzal. If he is convicted according to the law of land, he deserves the punishment. If India uses capital punishment (in certain rare cases) and it has awarded this to Afzal, he should die. No questions asked.

One can debate whether such capital punishment should be there or not in a different exercise. All these activists seem to wake up only when such cases arise.

October 4, 2006
04:27 AM

You asked the right question:
"How can you help those who don't want to help themselves?".

YOU CANNOT. Therefore, stop trying.

That guy on train who was wearing the t-shirt gave a good answer. He wants freedom from India (Who else?). You shouldn't have been surprised with the answer.

You set a great example by giving him the "most filthiest look and most abusive words". That's what India does anyway in Kashmir- and a little more.

How is your country "doing whatever it takes to ensure peace and harmony in their region."?


"Thousands of our soldiers are killed every year for their protection"
For their protection? From what? They want protection from Indian Army, and here you say Indian Army is giving protection to them? If that guy on the train was smart he should have told you- "LAY OFF!"

You were like a Britisher telling an Indian (before 1947)- 'be thankful to me.. I am protecting you. Instead of being grateful to me, you are asking for freedom? How dare you?'.

October 4, 2006
07:35 AM

Sujai - Well I guess you are one of those people who prefer to ONLY look with one eye. I agree that inncocent lives are lost in times at the cost of injustice done onto them on part of (some) corrupt officials. But to say that entire ARMY and entire J&K police force is responsible for the misery of J&K people then I would say that you are being way too off the mark.

It's like you are saying that the lives of thousands of soldiers and officers lost behind the Kashmiris...was nothing but deserving. Whatever happened to the Hindu Kashimiries in the hands of militants (who you call Freedom Fighters) is justified. Not to forget the lives of thousands of other innocent people accross the country who have lost their lives or loved one due to bomb blasts...again in the hands of those friendly freedom fighters.

Sujai, its not about being thankful or grateful....whatever efforts that are taking place to ensure safety for the people of Kashmir is done for ONLY one reason and that is....THEY ARE INDIANS...they are our fellow citizens. Just the and me are for the rest of the country.

But sadly, people like yourself ONLY know how to point fingers and blame the system...but who themselves would NOT even move a finger in the time of need.

October 4, 2006
08:11 AM

I am really quite disgusted Sujai with your statements regarding Kashmir. So its okay to hound out people from their homes? Or kill and rape and terrify civilians until they run away and become refugees? I am sure you will argue when those refugees are Palestinians or Iraqis. But obviously Kashmiri Pandits are low on your scale of humane priorities. And how about the Buddhists in Ladakh who do NOT want to be independent from India? Or the Shiites in the Kargil, Dras regions who feel threatened by the ISI-backed, Sunni-led so-called "freedome" movement? The army that you so malign protects the Kashmiri Shias from being hounded out of their homes by those you obviously believe to be heroes. The army also protects Buddhists and Hindus from being slaughtered by Islamist fanatics. And also take a look at the number of Kashmiris involved in the "freedom movement". While in 1989 there was significant involvement, it has long been superseded by jihadi veterans from the Afghan war and ISI-backed Pakistanis. And guess what - the average "Kashmiri" (Sunni and Muslim) is terrified of these "freedom-fighters." And this btw is not Indian government propaganda but amply documented by reports from EU, US, UN as well as independent NGOs.
Does this mean that there is NO abuse by the armed forces. Probably not given that they are humans and working in conditions of stress. However, international human rights organizations have consistently rated the Indian army as one of the forces with the lowest level of HR abuses.
You are obviously entitled to your views but I suggest you start doing some research before shooting from the hip. Otherwise you are just another deluded fanatic (Christian, Muslim, Hindu or otherwise) who is incapable of weighing available information in order to form their opinion. Your apologies for Islamist fanaticism seems to have rendered you incapable of rational thought!

October 4, 2006
01:08 PM

If he's so concerned about what is happening in Kashmir, I think Sujai should actually go to Kashmir, stay there for a year - 6 months with the Army and 6 months with his beloved "freedom fighters" (if they dont behead him in those 6 months that is) and see for himself what is happening there in the name of "freedom struggle" instead of sitting there at Bangalore and writing all the crap that he does here.

"KILLING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE- BOTH SOLDIERS AND CIVILIANS. What a gross waste of humanity! For what?"

For fun. Thousands of lives are being wasted for FUN. The Indian Army and the Indian people are all idiots who have nothing else to do, you see. All their pockets are overflowing with money. The last case of unemployment was encountered about two centuries ago. Poverty was eradicated around five centuries ago.

All their b**ts have become so fat they're in grave need of some exercise. The people in the Thar in Rajasthan dont know what to do with all the excess water that they have. So they take water guns and go to Kashmir and play with "freedom fighters." The people in Vidarbha and Telangana - you know, all their stomachs are so full with food and drink. They have to digest all that dont they? So they go all the way to Kashmir and play good ol' wargames.


October 5, 2006
06:27 AM

Venom, spite, hatred!
Spewing forth from two innocent kids- Anamika and Atlantean who have just woken up to stark realities of life. Forgive them, for they do not know the sins of their own kind!

I don't have to explain myself here. If you are interested in knowing- go to Kashmir I,II, III, IV, V, VI on my blog (there are few more on the way). In 1994, when I started writing about Kashmir there wasn't much material available on the web- I had to document all the evidence. Unfortunately, I lost those files. But now, in 2006, there are many sites maintained by Kashmiris- both pandits and muslims. Just go to their websites. You will get all the information.

Oh, BTW, do not assume! I know more about Kashmir dispute than you can ever imagine. And this is no contest of who knows more. Get out of your puerile one-upmanship and start debating maturely. Don't keep assuming that the other side doesn't know things. I don't know how many times you guys do that.

THINK, THINK before you write. It seems like you type faster than you think. What a gross waste of intelligence!

For once, I will write about myself-
My best friends in my life are Kashmiri Pandits. I know them and their families for over sixteen years now since they left their homes in Kashmir. I have visited their homes and I know their plight. Please spare yourself the trouble of trying to make me understand the situation. You would do good if you spend that time trying to know the situation- in addition to talking to a Kashmiri Pandit, talk to a Kashmiri Muslim and a Pakistani. You may get a view that is so different from what Indian media feeds you in your comfort zones.

(And yes, for once I had to assume things about you as well- at the beginning. Forgive me!)

October 5, 2006
07:57 AM

great bong on desi critics..good good.....i read the first was like a sense of deja vu......and then i saw.....yeh to apne arnab dada hain......wo ho

October 5, 2006
08:49 AM

Sujai Uncle,

How can innocent kids spew venom, spite and hatred? :)

Oh I forgot, you're the Supreme Enlightened itself. Whatever you say is true. Whatever you say is rational. How can the words of the Highest Intellect ever be challenged in a debate with proper reason and still not be written off as "puerile one-upmanship"? Unfortunately, I havent been trained in the fine technique of manufacturing reason. Apologies ma Lord! I know not the art. So please accept it that I cannot face you :)

Let's agree to disagree. You're a BIG waste of time and energy.

November 6, 2006
04:48 PM

Dont delete this comment - wpsept06

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