The Tribune
October 1, 2006

by Humra Quraishi

The big question now is whether Mohammad Afzal 
ought to be put to death or saved from the 
gallows. I got in touch with the well known 
lawyer ND Pancholi, who is one of those lawyers 
who has been regularly meeting Afzal. Along with 
a team of senior advocates, he is currently 
preparing a mercy petition on his behalf.

Reacting sharply to the death sentence, ND 
Pancholi set out the facts which are likely to 
form the main points in the petition:

"I feel it is important to know certain facts 
regarding this case - Afzal did not have the 
assistance of any lawyer at the trial stage. The 
lawyers sought by him were not provided by the 
Court. Amicus Curie advocates were given by the 
court, some of whom withdrew from the case and 
the one who remained was there only for the name 

"The court asked Afzal to cross examine the 
witnesses, which he did, but this is a task which 
can be performed by a lawyer and no litigant can 
be expected to cross examine the witnesses 
against him. In absence of a proper advocate, he 
was not able to demolish the evidence fabricated 
by the police. The Supreme Court and High Court 
have held that the police version of the arrest 
of the accused was not believable, i.e., the time 
and day of the arrest of the accused as claimed 
by the police was false.

"The Supreme Court has admitted that there is no 
direct evidence against Afzal but certain 
circumstances if taken together can give a safe 
presumption that he was involved in the 
conspiracy to attack Parliament, though he 
himself did not participate in the attack. The 
three main accused, i.e., Mohd. Azhar, Gazi Baba 
and Tariq are stated to be in Pakistan. Three 
were given death penalty i.e. Geelani, Shaukat 
and Afzal. Afsan Guru (wife of Shaukat) was given 
ten years imprisonment. In the High Court Geelani 
and Afsan Guru were acquitted. In the Supreme 
Court the death sentence of Shaukat was commuted 
to ten years imprisonment. In such a situation, 
giving death penalty to one accused on assumption 
of circumstantial evidence is not justified."

Pancholi adds: "In America, with regard to of 
9/11, one accused, Zakaria Mosvi, has been given 
life imprisonment because he was not directly 
involved. Similarly, in the Mahatma Gandhi 
assassination case, Nathuram Godse was given the 
death penalty but his brother was given a life 
sentence because he was not directly involved. 
The same is the case with Afzal, as he was not 
directly involved. "

o o o


Indian Express
September 30, 2006

by Nandita Haksar

Hanging him will be a blot on Indian democracy

 Mohammad Afzal has been sentenced to death by 
hanging for the offence of conspiring to attack 
the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. The 
news that the date for his hanging has been fixed 
for October 20, 2006, has been greeted by most of 
the media with approval, if not celebration. But 
before we endorse the decision to hang Afzal we 
need to inform ourselves of the hard facts of the 
case without emotion. It is important to remember 
that we are not discussing whether Afzal was or 
was not a part of the conspiracy to attack the 
Parliament. He has already been found guilty of 
the crime and convicted. The question is on the 

There are three principal reasons why hanging 
Mohammad Afzal would violate basic principles of 
natural justice and equity. First, the charge 
sheet was against 12 persons: three Pakistanis 
(Masood Azhar, Tariq Ahmed and Gazi Baba) who 
were said to have master-minded the attack (none 
of the three were arrested or brought to trial. 
If Pakistan were to extradite them they would be 
protected from death penalty); five Pakistanis 
who actually attacked Parliament and were 
responsible for the death of nine members of our 
security forces; and the four people who actually 
stood trial. Afzal was not responsible for 
anyone's death or injury. He did not mastermind 
the attack. The Supreme Court has noted that 
there is no direct evidence of his involvement. 
Second, all the three courts, including the 
Supreme Court, have acquitted him of the charges 
under POTA of belonging to either a terrorist 
organisation or a terrorist gang. Third, he was 
denied a fair trial. The investigation was full 
of illegalities and the courts noted with concern 
that evidence was fabricated and he never had a 
lawyer who represented him. The Designated Judge 
passed an order giving Afzal the right to 
cross-examine witnesses but even a person with 
legal training without knowledge of criminal law 
would find it difficult to conduct such a trial. 
The Supreme Court has held that "The incident, 
which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken 
the entire nation and the collective conscience 
of the society will only be satisfied if capital 
punishment is awarded to the offender." Can the 
collective conscience of our people be satisfied 
if a fellow citizen is hanged without having a 
chance to defend himself? We have not even had a 
chance to hear Afzal's story. Hanging Mohammad 
Afzal will only be a blot on our democracy .

The writer is a civil rights activist, closely 
associated with the rights of defendants in the 
Parliament attack case and is leading the public 
campaign for mercy in this case

o o o


October 1, 2006

Dear Friends,

Mohammad Afzal Guru, 35, a resident of a north 
Kashmir town of Sopore, was arrested in December 
2001 in connection with the attack on the Indian 
parliament in New Delhi. Afzal is presently 
lodged in New Delhi's high security Tihar jail 
and is facing death penalty, the date for which 
has been fixed as 20th October 2006.

We condemn Mohammad Afza's capital punishment and 
therefore appeal you to join our efforts for the 
withdrawal of death sentence.

Keeping in view the international humanitarian 
standards, we are of the opinion that the Afzal 
Guru's trial was not satisfying the standards 
laid out for fair trial. In his case the 
confession that was basis of his conviction in 
trial court was rejected by the Supreme Court of 
India and according to the evidence produced by 
the State he was accused as a facilitator and not 
directly involved in the attack. Thereby, the 
death penalty is disproportionate even according 
to the Indian Supreme Court's different 
judgements and the case doesn't even fall under 
the "rarest of rare" cases in which the Supreme 
Court of India has observed death penalty should 
be awarded. The trial was completely influenced 
by the propagandist Indian media, which had 
pronounced its verdict even before the trial had 
actually begun. The Kashmiris perceive the death 
sentence to Afzal Guru as an act of appeasement 
to the jingoistic pride of India. Also the timing 
and date fixed by the Court seems to be motivated.

Attached is the appeal for signature campaign 
[http://www.sacw.net/hrights/Appeal.jpg]. We also 
appeal you to either write in your individual or 
the organisational capacity the protest letters 
to the Indian President or send a copy to us.

Please send a copy of your letters to us [at <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>].

In struggle,

Organised by: JK Coalition of Civil Society

o o o


Dear Friends,

Here is a template of a petition addressed to the 
President of India, which is self-explanatory.
You're earnestly requested to act on it and send a copy to <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>.


The President of India,
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi.


Respected Sir,

It is to bring to your kind notice that one 
Mohammad Afzal Guru, 35, a resident of Sopore, a 
town in north Kashmir, was arrested, to our 
knowledge, in December 2001 in connection with 
the armed assault on the Indian Parliament on 
Decmeber 13 2001. He is presently lodged in the 
Tihar Jail, New Delhi waiting to be hanged on 
20th instant as per the verdict delivered by the 
Hon'ble Supreme Court of India.

In this connection we'd like to draw your 
attention further to the fact that under 
international human rights standards people 
charged with crimes punishable by death are 
entitled to the observance of strictest fair 
trial guarantees in view of the irreversible and 
most extreme nature of the penalty. Hence meting 
out of death penalty upon conclusion of a trial 
in which the provisions of International Covenant 
on Civil and Political Rights had not been 
respected, which can no longer be remedied by 
appeal, would constitute a gross violation of the 
right to life as per the article 6(1) of the 
aforesaid Covenant.

Keeping in view the above international 
humanitarian standards, we are of the firm 
opinion that Afzal Guru's trial was not according 
to the standards laid out for fair trial.  In his 
case the Supreme Court of India has rejected the 
confession that is the basis of his conviction in 
the trial court. And according to the evidence 
produced by the prosecution, he was accused as a 
facilitator and not as one directly perpetrating 
the said crime. And thereby death penalty is 
grossly disproportionate to the alleged crime 
committed by him according to the prosecution. By 
no stretch of imagination it falls under the 
category of the "rarest of rare" cases. It is 
also highly pertinent that the trial, from the 
word go, was highly influenced by the sustained 
propaganda of the Indian media, which had 
pronounced him guilty even before the trial 
started.  It is no wonder and highly significant 
that under the circumstances the people of 
Kashmir valley perceive this verdict nothing but 
as an act of appeasement to the jingoistic pride 
of India.
The verdict has come at a time when there is 
global campaign going on against capital 
punishment. So far 128 nations have reportedly 
abolished it from their statutes and more are 
expected to follow.

In this context the impact of hanging Mohammad 
Maqbool Bhat, another Kashmiri, in 1984 in the 
same Tihar Jail, at the end of a trial which was 
perceived as patently unfair by the people of the 
valley, radically aggravating the sense of their 
alienation with hugely tragic consequences must 
also be kept in mind.

In view of above we the undersigned earnestly 
urge you to exercise your Constitutional 
prerogative to set aside the said death sentence 
and also institute a judicial enquiry to find out 
the real truths behind the dastardly attack on 
the Indian Parliament, as facts have been clearly 
fudged and fabricated by the investigation agency 
which have been clearly acknowledged by the 
higher courts, and the flawed investigations 
carried out thereafter.  This would not only set 
a healthy precedent and reinforce the common 
people's trust and faith in Indian democracy but 
also go a long way to soothe the inflamed 
feelings of the people of the Kashmir valley and 
thereby help the "peace process" now under way.

Yours sincerely,

Sukla Sen,
EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity),


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