Millennium Post

Omar questions ‘pick and choose’ hanging

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has asked if the UPA government followed a ‘pick and choose’ policy while executing Parliament attack mastermind Mohammed Afzal Guru. According to an agency report from Srinagar, Abdullah spoke up against death penalty, saying: ‘I have no bloodlust’. Omar said as long as the capital punishment exists on the statute there should be no ‘pick and choose’.

Asked whether the UPA government went for selective execution of death row convicts by hanging Guru, Omar said it will have to be proved to Kashmiris and to the world that the execution of Afzal Guru is not a ‘selective’ one.

‘I had a sense that Afzal Guru would be executed sooner rather than later. Generations of Kashmiris will identify with Afzal Guru. You will have to prove to the world that the death penalty is not used selectively. The onus rests on the judiciary and the political leadership to show that this wasn’t a selective execution,’ he said.

Omar said if the Centre wanted to protect itself from the allegation that Afzal’s hanging was a political decision and not legal, it will have to answer questions on other death row convicts.

‘There are others on death row who are also implicated in attacks on democracy. Is the chief minister of a state not a symbol of democracy? Is a former Prime Minister not a symbol of democracy? Of course, he is,’ he said referring to the death row convicts in the cases of assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

‘I am not calling for a review of the entire thing but if you want to protect yourself from this argument that this was a political decision and not a legal one, then please understand that there are others who are on death row and implicated in attacks against democracy. There are other assassins who are on death row,’ he added. Omar also said many questions needed to be anwsered. ‘The words used in the Supreme Court judgement are difficult to explain ... the judgement talks about satisfying collective conscience. You don’t hang someone to satisfy collective conscience but to satisfy the legal requirements,’ the chief minister said.

On Guru’s family not allowed to meet him, Omar said, ‘I cannot reconcile myself to the fact that his (Afzal) family was not allowed to see him before he was killed or executed. That to my mind, on a human level, is the biggest tragedy of this execution.’

Omar also questioned the rationale of informing Afzal’s family through post saying the reliability of the medium itself was questionable.
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