One of the favourite phrases of Indian politicians is that ‘the law will take its own course’. If it was true, the Supreme Court would not be reminding the government about carrying out the death sentences given by the Court. Last week, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to decide fast on the death sentences. A Bench of Justices HS Bedi and JM Panchal said: “We must say with the greatest emphasis that human beings are not chattels and should not be used as pawns in furthering some larger political or government policy.” The truth is that the UPA government has fallen to such levels that even crime and punishment have assumed communal colours under it. It is only the misplaced and myopic vision of a pervert mind that can connect Afzal to a section of a community in India.
Three years after the Supreme Court ordered death sentence for Afzal in the Parliament attack case, the UPA government is dithering over carrying it out. By various implied statements the government has conveyed that hanging him would hurt the sentiments of a section of the society and hence it is sitting over the mercy petition. In fact, a minister in the previous UPA cabinet even went so far as to suggest that hanging Afzal would affect the chances of release of Sarabjit Singh languishing in Pakistani jail on a false case of espionage.
The DMK government in Tamil Nadu last week commuted sentences and released nine prisoners, all convicted in the Coimbatore bomb blasts that killed 51 people. They are hardened terrorists, belonging to the banned organisation, Al-Umma. The convicts had three more years to go in their 13-year punishment. But the government took into account their “good conduct” and released them on the grounds of “compassion” to mark the occasion of the centenary of Anna Durai. This same government now has taken a different stand on the Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict Nalini. The government has said that it would first seek permission from the centre before taking a decision on it. The two positions of the same government are not matching. There is no doubt that Nalini deserved the punishment she got. But so did the bombers. Is their crime lessened because they are Muslims? And is the DMK government seeking to corner the vote bank of this community by releasing the terrorists only because of their religion. If so, then the community should raise their voice in protest as one man for identifying terrorists with them.
The release of these terrorists could result in their regrouping and pose the challenge of renewed anti-national activities on our soil. Especially when the Home Minister himself, at a meeting of senior police officers recently, painted a grim picture on internal security. Terrorist cells and modules, supported and sponsored by Pakistan and its ISI, are yet to be identified and finished in India. In a scenario like this, releasing nine criminals on the facade of “compassion” itself should be seen as a crime.
Some time ago, Sharad Pawar had in a TV interview claimed that he had ‘invented’ a bomb attack in a mosque in Mumbai as part of the serial blasts because he wanted to ‘balance’ the tempers, as the majority of victims of the serial blasts were Hindus. Nobody then questioned him on his irresponsibility. The Maharashtra government fabricated a case against Sadhvi Pragya only to please its vote-bank. It charged her and a few others with MCOCA, which was dismissed by the court. The state government has not been asked for an explanation.
The case in point is, the communalising of the system of crime and punishment by the UPA. The politics of this conglomeration is totally and blatantly communal. Right down to railway ticket concession to students, the UPA seeks to divide the people by religion, by caste and by region. The Supreme Court’s ruling on death sentences is a timely warning to the government not to prevaricate on carrying out justice. It should take the cue and speed up several pending cases against terrorists and punish them. It may yet act as a deterrent.