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Guru execution sparks Kashmiri anger

Azhar Vadi | Cii News | 12 February 2013

Indian security forces are on high alert this week. But it’s where and why they have their ear pricked that justifies its documentation by news outlets.

Fourteen companies of the Indian Border Security Force, or BSF, have been sent to the Kashmir Valley . At least 50 people, including 23 policemen, have been injured in the last 72 hours.

The Indian NDTV TV station has already reported that a 16-year-old boy, who was among five people injured during firing by security forces in Baramulla district, died on Sunday night.

A young man drowned in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. He was allegedly being chased by security forces during a protest.

Now we know where. But why?

The renewed protests that broke out in Indian occupied Kashmir was result of an execution by hanging on Saturday morning. In a rather clandestine fashion, the rusted wheels of Indian justice started to turn for a man called Afzul Guru. He was hanged and buried at Tihar Jail in bustling New Delhi with news of his execution coming as a surprise to many, including his own family.

The spectacled bearded man had been accused and found guilty of being part of group of ‘jihadis’ who attacked the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. “The audacious terror attack,” reported The Times of India, “could have wiped out a section of India’s top political leadership and brought the two nations (India and Pakistan) to war.”

So why tension in Kashmir? Why the need for increased security? Why are teenagers being fired at and people so afraid that they are running in waterways and drowning while being chased by those tasked with ensuring security?

Arundathi Roy, the award winning novelist writing for The Guardian noted that the seething is because there were so many gaping holes in the case that Afzal Guru’s hanging has left a, “a stain on India’s democracy.”

In her piece, Roy first deal with the facts. “On 13 December 2001 five armed men drove through the gates of the Indian parliament in a car fitted out with a bomb. When challenged they jumped out of the car and opened fire, killing eight security personnel and a gardener. In the firefight that followed, all five attackers were killed.”

Soon thereafter the Delhi Police Special Cell arrested the so-called “mastermind”, Professor S.A.R. Geelani, Showkat Guru and his cousin Afzal Guru and his wife Afsan in Srinagar, Kashmir.

According to Roy, once the suspects had been lined up, the Indian propaganda machine took over, conditioning the mind of the populace to accept the ‘truth’ being peddled.

A, “fast-track court sentenced Geelani and Afzal and Showkat Guru to death. Subsequently the high court acquitted Geelani and Afsan Guru. The supreme court upheld the acquittal. But in its 5 August 2005 judgment it gave Afzal Guru three life sentences and a double death sentence,” Roy documented.

But, certainly, logic would dictate, a man who was part of a group that were hell bent on creating anarchy deserves what he got.

It is here that Roy makes apparent the, ‘gaping holes,’ that cast so much doubt on the Indian states claims against Guru while strengthening his persistent plea that he was innocent.

“At the most crucial stage of a criminal case, when evidence is presented, when witnesses are cross-examined, when the foundations of the argument are laid – in the high court and supreme court you can only argue points of law, you cannot introduce new evidence – Afzal Guru, locked in a high-security solitary cell, had no lawyer. The court-appointed junior lawyer did not visit his client even once in jail, he did not summon any witnesses in Guru’s defence, and he did not cross-examine the prosecution witnesses. The judge expressed his inability to do anything about the situation,” Roy noted.

“The two most incriminating pieces of evidence against Guru were a cellphone and a laptop confiscated at the time of arrest. They were not sealed, as evidence is required to be. During the trial it emerged that the hard disk of the laptop had been accessed after the arrest. It only contained the fake home ministry passes and the fake identity cards that the “terrorists” used to access parliament – and a Zee TV video clip of parliament house. So according to the police, Guru had deleted all the information except the most incriminating bits. The police witness said he sold the crucial sim card that connected all the accused in the case to one another to Guru on 4 December 2001. But the prosecution’s own call records showed the sim was actually operational from 6 November 2001.”

In fact, Guru was hung on Saturday by a noose strung from a pack of lies and contradictions. “It goes on and on, this pile up of lies and fabricated evidence. The courts note them, but for their pains the police get no more than a gentle rap on their knuckles. Nothing more,” Roy wrote.

Anyone who was really interested in solving the mystery of the parliament attack would have followed the dense trail of evidence on offer. No one did, thereby ensuring the real authors of the conspiracy will remain unidentified and uninvestigated.”

The Kashmir Valley remains angry. The fact that his family was only informed about his execution 48 hours later or that they were not afforded the right to visit their beloved for one last time may be the immediate cause for the simmering tensions. But the anger is rooted much deeper and extends to an occupation and dehumanisation of a section of the Muslim Ummah once agai

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