Posts Tagged ‘AfzalGuru’

Date: 23 May 2013

European Parliament passes Urgent Resolution on execution of Afzal Guru

Brussels/Strasbourg: In a major setback to India at international level European Parliament today passed the Urgent Resolution on the execution of Afzal Guru by voting unanimously for the motion.

ICHR has, with its intense lobbying, persuaded various political groups and considerable number of Members of the European Parliament to introduce a motion for an Urgency Resolution on the secret hanging of Afzal Guru. The proposed motion was discussed and unanimously voted in the European Parliament’s plenary session today at Strasbourg.

Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany

Barrister Tramboo head of ICHR termed this step as positive measure for human rights defenders and hoped that it will inspire further action from European leaders on the state of affairs in Indian Held Kashmir.

Barrister Tramboo commended Mr. Ali Shah Nawaz Khan, Executive Director of Kashmiri Scandinavian Council who contributed to bring about the Afzal Guru Urgency Resolution in European Parliament.

Final Text of the resolution adopted unanimously by voting for the motion at European Parliament at Strasbourg (France).

European Parliament resolution on India: execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru and its implications (2013/2640(RSP)) �
� � �
The European Parliament,

– � having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 62/149 of 18 December 2007 calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and UN General Assembly Resolution 63/168 calling for the implementation of General Assembly Resolution 62/149, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2008,

– � having regard to the final declaration adopted by the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, held in Geneva from 24 to 26 February 2010, which calls for universal abolition of the death penalty,

– � having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s report of 11 August 2010 on moratoriums on the use of the death penalty,

– � having regard to its previous resolutions on the abolition of the death penalty, and in particular that of 26 April 2007 on the initiative for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty(1),

– � having regard to the submission made in July 2012 by 14 retired Indian Supreme Court and High Court judges to the President of India calling on him to commute the death sentences of 13 prisoners on the grounds that those sentences had been erroneously upheld by the Supreme Court over the previous nine years,

– � having regard to the World Day against the Death Penalty and to the European Day against the Death Penalty held on 10 October every year,

– � having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Mohammad Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy in relation to the December 2001 attack on the Parliament of India, and was executed by the Indian authorities on 9 February 2013;

B. �whereas the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, violating the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

C. whereas 154 countries in the world have abolished the death penalty de jure or de facto; whereas India, when presenting its candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council ahead of the elections of 20 May 2011, pledged to uphold the highest standards of promotion and protection of human rights;

D. whereas India ended its eight-year unofficial moratorium on executions in November 2012, when it executed Ajmal Kasab, convicted for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks;

E. �whereas national and international human rights organisations have raised serious questions about the fairness of Afzal Guru’s trial;

F. �whereas over 1 455 prisoners in India are currently on death row;

G. whereas, despite a curfew imposed in large parts of Indian-administered Kashmir, Afzal Guru’s death was followed by protests;

1. �Reiterates its long-standing opposition to the death penalty under all circumstances, and calls once again for an immediate moratorium on executions in those countries where the death penalty is still applied;

2. �Condemns the Government of India’s execution in secret of Afzal Guru at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail on 9 February 2013, in opposition to the worldwide trend towards the abolition of capital punishment, and expresses its regret that Afzal Guru’s wife and other family members were not informed of his imminent execution and burial;

3. �Calls on the Government of India to return Afzal Guru’s body to his family;

4. �Urges the Indian authorities to maintain adherence to the highest national and international judicial standards in all trials and judicial proceedings, and to provide the necessary legal assistance to all prisoners and persons facing trial;

5. �Regrets the deaths of three young Kashmiris following the protests against Afzal Guru’s execution; calls on the security forces to exercise restraint in the use of force against peaceful protesters;

6. �Calls on the Government of India, as a matter of urgency, not to approve any execution order in the future;

7. �Calls on the Government and Parliament of India to adopt legislation introducing a permanent moratorium on executions, with the objective of abolishing the death penalty in the near future;

8. �Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President / High Representative, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the UN General Assembly, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the President, Government and Parliament of India.



pic courtesy- samvada
From the brother of Shaheed Tahir Sofi, Altaf Sofi:

Mr. Omar Abdullah,
My brother was killed by on the street by a bullet and this moved you to tears.
Even though 1 lakh Kashmiris have been sent to the grave so far, you have never cried in open but my brother’s death (finally) awakened your conscience so much so that you wept in openl…y in the Assembly.
Our eyes too weep, we do moan, our hearts too are broken. Our beloved has been snatched away from us. We weep for he has been taken away from us forever. We are not alone, the nation mourns with us just like it mourns Afzal’s and Mudasir’s cruel deaths.
As the Chief Minister since 2008, this is the first time you have wept the tears of repentance, which leads us believe that even stones could have hearts.
What crime had Tahir committed?
We do not understand this. We cannot still believe that he has left us all till we meet him on Day of Judgement. Tahir used to pray five times a day, his kindness and humility is not hidden from the people of Baramulla and Dehradun. He was dedicated to his studies.
Who is responsible for putting out the light from his life?
Is it the Trooper who shot him in the head? Or is it the system that condones every action and saying of these (Occupational) Forces? They send to the grave whoever they wish and send to the gallows whoever they wish. The Khaki-clad Trooper, today, is the Law, the Judiciary and the Executioner-all rolled into one.
The rulers are effeminates in front of this Khaki-Clad Trooper. So much so that a Senior Minister Ali Sagar has to publically appeal to the CRPF, “Do not use Pepper (spray) Guns, the CM has already made this clear to you.”
Mr.Omar, does anyone listen to you or to him? They won’t because (your) government itself is at the mercy of the (Occupational) Forces.

Mr. Omar, You don’t need to declare that Afzal Guru was hanged- as the Chief Justice of Indian Supreme Court already has- “to satisfy the collective conscience of the Indian Nation.”
I will not ask you: To satisfy whose “conscience” was my brother killed?
Or who called these enemies as “Tai’ran Ababeel*** and grandly welcomed them (to invade Kashmir)?
Who leads them (the Occupational Forces) in meetings of the Unified Command Committee (except you)?
Every kid in Kashmir is well aware of this.
Shedding these tears, did you ask yourself, why you shed these tears? Are these tears similar to the tears of Dr.Farooq Abdullah after he took the oath in ’96?
I leave all this to your conscience. But as a member of the bereaved family, I have the moral duty (and right) to inform you that a Minister from your government by announcing 5 Lakh Rupees (as ex-gratia relief), has rubbed salt into our wounds.
This announcement is equivalent to trampling upon our emotions.
You should know that no government can ever pay the price of the pure blood of our beloved and other Kashmiri youth. Your government tried to set a price even for the blood of Wamiq Farooq but his poor parents by rejecting this offer set an example worthy of being written in gold, though it may not appear so to your government. (Similarly), the father of Mudasir Kamran befittingly responded to your generous offer! We thank you since your generosity has finally lead to the price being set for a Kashmiri life at 5 lakh rupees! There was a time when Kashmir and Kashmiris were purchased for 75 Lakh Nanak Shahi (by the Dogras). This means that every Kashmiri life was worth just a few takkas.
Honorable Mr. Omar,
Quran and Hadeeth bear testimony that the person who aids the oprressor is equal in sin with oppressor. Who laid the foundations to the atrocities and cruelties perpetrated upon Kashmiris today?
You are well aware of this fact. I will not repeat from the dark pages of this terrible history in order not to hurt you!
Why do you take carry on this legacy of oppression and violence?
Take a guess. How many innocent lives were taken in 2008 and 2010? How many innocent and oppressed ones were left with nothing? How many parents lost their children?

How many families were destroyed? How many people were thrown into dungeons?
All this for holding on to a position that is temporary? How many burdens would you want to carry on your shoulders on the Day of Recompense? Are your shoulders strong enough (to bear these burdens)?
The intentions are but known to Allah only. Judging by your tears, it appears that your conscience is finally waking up. If indeed this true, this is the best time to free yourself from all the previous burdens (by repenting).
By kicking away this position you hold on to earlier rather than latter, abandon the ranks of the oppressors and join the crowd of the oppressed.
I am aware that politicians, in this age are not blessed enough to abandon position and power to embrace humanity. Fear of Allah and true faith in the hereafter are necessary to do this. You know quite well that many leaders have sold their honor and soul just to attain a Ministerial post. This is the reason that even when the blood of innocents is being spilt, chastity (of women) outraged, houses are set ablaze, youths are slaughtered, the politicians are not prepared to give up their addiction for power.
Giving you the benefit of the doubt is the reason, that I had the audacity to present to you my thoughts even in these moments of utter grief.
You have announced Relief of 5 lakh rupees to our family in exchange for the life of Tahir that was taken away. I will collect 6 lakh from my family and relatives, and I make the offer of presenting this amount to the Superiors of the Trooper who killed my brother with one condition alone: the trooper who killed my innocent brother, who was in a state of ritual ablution at the time, is hanged at the same spot where he bathed my brother in blood. So that my family and the Kashmiri people can get some relief from the fact that an oppressor was properly recompensed.
Honorable Mr.Umar,
Read the writing on the wall at the earliest. Assembly elections were held, then parliament elections and then Panchayat elections were held, Kashmiris couldn’t and cannot be subdued even if, God forbid, blood of many more Afzals, Mudasirs and Tahirs is shed


By Niloofar Qureshi

Published: Wed, 13 March 2013 08:14 PM



The latest spurt of protests in the Valley, which commenced with the execution of Afzal Guru, got extended due to the mysterious death of a Kashmiri student in Hyderabad and has thereafter continued in the aftermath of a youth shot by the security forces in Baramulla. A ‘protest calendar’ was promptly issued and with people taking to the streets in large numbers, normal life came to a standstill, proving once again that the situation in Kashmir continues to be extremely volatile. Though the separatists must be congratulating themselves for having pulled off a major ‘victory’ through such widespread and prolonged protests, they must not forget that they had played no role in initiating the protests- they were just lucky to get repeated opportunities!
There is no doubt that unfolding events should be used for furthering the ongoing movement for the ‘right to self determination’. However, events should not become the sole agency for the same. Though the widespread protests in the aftermath of the Afzal Guru execution, the mysterious death of the Kashmiri student studying in Hyderabad and the killing of a protester in Baramulla are certainly valid reasons for protesting, such incidents by themselves alone cannot be expected to usher in the change we desire. For, though these incidents do illustrate the sorry plight of Kashmiris, unfortunately, the international community perceives these as mere law and order problems.
While many nations and human rights bodies criticised New Delhi after the Afzal Guru hanging, the criticism was for India’s continuation of the death penalty and not even a single country questioned the legality of this execution or the way it was done. The Hyderabad suicide case too has not evoked any international response and is probably being viewed by the international community as the personal decision of an individual. The Baramulla killing also seems to have unfortunately fallen in the ‘common category’ of  the death of a protester who was shot by the security forces while discharging their ‘legitimate duty’ of maintaining law and order!
What our leaders fail to comprehend is that, in practice, the international community follows moral standards that are far removed from the high ethical values it publically proclaims to uphold. And in order to justify its own perverted sense of reasoning and depraved conscience, it has craftily coined euphemisms like “global war on terror,” “legitimate targets” and “unavoidable co-lateral damage’. Take the case of the American drone campaign in Pakistan– it is no secret that for every terrorist killed in drone attacks, scores of innocent men women and children are also being killed or maimed. Yet, no one seems to mind and though everyone admits that this is ‘unfortunate’, the ‘collective conscience’ of the international community is satisfied by the warped logic that it is simply a case of ‘unavoidable co-lateral damage’, which occurs when attacking a ‘legitimate target’ in the ‘global war against terror’!
That the ‘terrorism factor’ has also helped New Delhi in enforcing brute force in Kashmir too is no secret. While human right activists and even the UN have made repeated appeals for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), New Delhi has played the ‘terrorism’ card well to counter the same. And, since all those who matter are in some way connected in the ‘global war’ on terror, none are willing to seriously intervene. Their reluctance is understandable, since they are all ‘partners in crime’ and guilty of excesses against innocent civilians. While America cannot do so much since it has the blood of innocents on its hands from drone attacks, Pakistan, which openly espouses the ‘Kashmir cause’ cannot afford opening the ‘can of worms’ of its own murky dealings in the Tribal areas and Balochistan.
The separatists therefore need to introspect. As they have experienced the futility of violence and rightly committed themselves to peace, they should advise the people, especially the youth to refrain from violence. There is an urgent need to educate the youth about the immense power of peaceful protests. Stone pelting and occasional wrecking of public property may seem to be very mild forms of violence, but it nevertheless is. And once protesters resort to violence of any type, then the security forces get an excuse to retaliate and this often results in avoidable loss of life. It should be remembered that the ‘right to self determination’ will certainly not fall into our laps just by needlessly sacrificing our youth and the summer unrest of 2010 in which 122 precious lives were lost, is a grim reminder of this!
The next issue, which the separatist leadership needs to guard against, is to suggest that ‘armed resistance’ could be a viable alternative to the peaceful struggle. Unfortunately, in the recent past, at least two separatist leaders (who have themselves publically denounced the use violent means for achieving the ‘right to self determination’) have made such comments. We have had more than our share of violence and suffered untold miseries due to the same. Being mature and experienced, our leaders know very well that the era of effecting change through the force of arms is long over. Instigating the youth to take up arms would only make them ‘cannon fodder’ and bring more miseries upon our people without achieving anything. In fact, no one would be happier than New Delhi if this happens, as it will provide the AFSPA a new lease of life in Kashmir!
The next point relates to the lack of direction, which the current philosophy of the ‘right to self determination’ movement in Kashmir suffers from.  This is because rather than concentrating on evolving a comprehensive strategy to make it more meaningful and self-sustaining, the separatist leadership seems to be content with solely relying on reacting to incidents and events to carry it forward. In the process, the ideological movement for the ‘right to self determination’ has been reduced to merely a petty ‘agitation’ that erupts whenever acts of excesses against the public occurs and then, its business as usual, till the next such an incident takes place!
Lastly, a one must never forget that for the ‘right to self determination’ movement to succeed, patience and perseverance is essential. However, this will be a daunting task as the youth has become restive, as it has been ‘programmed’ to believe that ‘azadi’ is just round the corner! And this is where their leadership qualities of the separatists will play a very important part, as they have to convince the impatient public that such changes do not come overnight.  But once this is achieved, the ongoing movement will automatically acquire an enduring character and being ‘issue based’ rather than ‘event driven’, will surely gain the respect and support it rightfully deserves from the international community.
(The writer is a New Delhi based journalist and can be reached at:



On March 2, 2013 a Kashmiri student hanged himself in the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. A perusal of the stories online about this offers multiple explanations. Among these, the dominant ones are: Mudassir Kamran was a Kashmiri nationalist killed by the police and now another martyr to the cause, as most of the reports from Kashmir claim. The other is that he was a mentally imbalanced homosexual tormented by his obsession with another male student, as EFLU authorities claim. Where does Mudassir Kamran’s story start and where does it end?

Two things are clear in the muddied waters over his dead body: that he was pushed to this act by a callous and insensitive University administration and that an implicit homophobia and a disavowal of the questions around mental health produce silences that obscure our access to any clarity on the ‘case.’

There is usually no discussion around homosexuality on EFLU’s campus and there is a history of violence against faculty members and students who represent or discuss it, from the denial of jobs to the tearing down of posters of LGBT Reading Groups. At the moment, however, there is much discussion on the subject on campus. However, a campus that discusses homosexuality only in connection to violence is a space that does not and cannot allow for any kind of healthy identification with gayness or non-heterosexual practices of love and friendship.

Waseem and Mudassir had been roommates and ‘close friends’ for years both in Pune and Hyderabad. Conflicts apparently began in EFLU when Mudassir began asking questions like “Where were you?” and “With whom were you?” of Waseem when the two were not together. Waseem started feeling monitored and expressed his anger at such questioning.

“I am not your wife, and you are not my father,” he is reported to have said. Soon Waseem spoke of being stalked by Mudassir and “provoked” to physical fights.  Mudassir had also expressed his ‘love’ for Waseem and at some point this ‘love’ became unacceptable. Waseem wanted students to help him with this intense disturbance that Mudassir, in his turbulent state of mind, was creating and eventually approached the University establishment.

It is important to note that both did not have a specific language for this relationship and were eager to distance themselves from a homosexual identification. Waseem claimed he was extremely uncomfortable with Mudassir’s desire that seemed to cross the boundary of male friendship. But this was only after the violence had begun.

In his interaction with the administration, Waseem’s position was curiously contradictory. He claimed he simply wanted Mudassir to stop this behaviour. He wanted teachers and administrators to counsel him, talk to him, send him home or make him understand that he shouldn’t be violent towards himself or anyone on the campus. He did not want Mudassir rusticated or expelled. He was even willing to be ‘friends’ with him again if the violent outbursts stopped. Waseem had also told the Proctor and senior faculty members that there was a real danger of Mudassir committing suicide.

What position can be attributed to Waseem? When did a “close friend” turn into someone who “needed help”? Waseem was very anxious about the rest of the campus perceiving him as a gay man. “My friends look at me suspiciously as if I am also that type of a person (sic),” he is reported to have said.

He would also often be found shaking with fear while reporting on the violence. Mudassir himself did not identify as a gay man either and already had other oppressions to bear as a Kashmiri Muslim. Both ostensibly had ‘girlfriends.’ What do we make of two men unable to even inhabit let alone name the nature of their relationship, a relationship which became a problem only when one of them articulated it in terms of violent outbursts?

At any rate, none of these explosive conditions were taken seriously by the administration. All that they did was to give Waseem a separate room and membership in another mess. Memos and ‘show cause’ notices were served to Mudassir which shows no sensitivity. Two unqualified faculty members ‘counselled’ and talked to him quite regularly but no professional help was arranged for him.

Even while this ‘case’ was being discussed by the authorities, it was being called one based on the ‘homosexual issue’. This term did not need any clarification; it had the tacit approval of most of the people who knew of this ‘case.’ This term signified a link between violence, homosexuality and deviance.

The parallel explanation for the beatings and the possible reasons that had led an intelligent, conscientious student to resort to physical violence were to do with mental health issues. These two narratives blur into each but given both explanations, the University behaved unprofessionally and insensitively.

Even after his suicide, the university administration has been trying its best to ‘prove’ that Mudassir was gay. To counter this, his friends and a lot of students who have been protesting the administration’s role in his suicide, have been invested in ‘disproving’ that he was gay. A lot of students have been saying that there was no evidence of his gayness, and that this is a ‘maligning campaign’ launched by the administration to ‘insult the dead’. One student went so far as to call Waseem and Mudassir’s ‘problem’ as an instance of “brotherly love”.

These responses show the homophobia across the board. Why is it that homosexuality has to be always proved, and heterosexuality always self-evident, in no need of identification, always available? Why is it that to call someone homosexual is to malign or insult them?

With institutionalised homophobia from the administration to cultural homophobia among the students, including student organisations, how can one identify as gay even if one wants to? The university community represses, censors and makes it impossible for anyone to express homosexual desire and then we’re told that Mudassir cannot be gay because homosexuality was not expressed.

As a Kashmiri, Mudassir would have been under intense pressure already, especially over the last few weeks since Afzal Guru’s hanging. Kashmiri students who have grown up and all their lives been in a context saturated with violence and abuse need contexts of support within the University.

Added to this is the pressure of being gay in an extremely homophobic society like Kashmir’s which would not allow the articulation of such desires let alone the adopting of an identity based on them. The public outing of the latter (the sexual angle is definitely part of the complaint) in combination with the former was a combination too heavy for Mudassir to bear.

The University – administration and students – have also been silent on the other large component of Mudassir’s identity and that is his being Kashmiri. What is it to be a ‘sane’ Kashmiri on an Indian University campus? What support systems did the University, and do Universities across the country, have for Kashmiri students and students from other militarized zones of state violence. How can Mudassir’s violent tendencies be seen as separable from the state’s violence in the region for decades now?

If gayness was the issue, why was the police needed? What was the sexual harassment committee doing? Where was the Gender Group? What are the available support mechanisms for gay people at EFLU?

If mental health was the issue, is calling the police the way to handle it? Where is the University counsellor? Where is the supportive mechanism for students already under pressure from the state?

If the two came together to cause violence, what needed to be done about it?

Mudassir’s suicide has exposed the callousness of a university administration that hands over a Kashmiri Muslim student, suspected of homosexuality-based criminality, to the police. All that the Proctor made of this complex situation is a disruption of the law and order situation on the campus. All that he did was hand Mudassir over to the police which is the most brutal way to deal with a delicate situation and mental state.

It has been reported by multiple eyewitnesses that the Proctor had called Mudassir a “mentally disordered rascal.” Students have protested against such name-calling, especially because Mudassir was very deeply affected by it. He reportedly kept sobbing after his arrest and asking his friends if he was really insane. Student organizations ensured that he was released from the police station but he hanged himself the next day.

What is it to be homosexual on an Indian University campus? What is it to be a ‘sane’ Kashmiri on an Indian University campus? What is to be ‘sane’ in the structures of patriarchy, compulsory heterosexuality, religious formation and violent nationalisms (Indian as well as Kashmiri) all of which affected both Waseem and Mudassir and affect us all?

How does one begin to mourn subjects so blocked by these structures and by a University – administration and students – unable to empathise with these blocks that it makes them take their lives? The gay subject and the Kashmiri subject appear beyond our languages of mourning only because we refuse to enter the protocols of their consciousnesses.

Mudassir was both. Our refusal to enter into a dialogue with him has caused his death. We are also responsible for his death. Those who protest his suicide and erase his sexuality as much as his Kashmiri identity must realise that they are doing exactly what the University did.

Mourning Mudassir must involve mourning the death of our own political consciences and the death of own ability to deal with difference.

Picture: Kashmiri protestors throw stones towards policemen during a spontaneous strike to protest the death of the student. (Photo credit: AFP)

Co-author: Samia Vasa is a PhD student at English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad .




There have been claims that late Afzal Guru in 2008 had written a letter to a lesser known editor of an Urdu weekly in Kashmir, which has only resurfaced now. The letter reportedly claims that late Afzal Guru did not want to label the Parliament attack as a conspiracy, asking “not to feel ashamed of December 13th Parliament attack”. Indian media has been quick to seize this ‘claimed letter’ and portray it as if Afzal Guru ‘purportedly justified the attack’.


The dead cannot speak and least of all cannot write letters, moreover in their defence, hence making claims on hitherto unknown correspondence of the dead is easy. But the living can and should exercise logic and reasoning to such claims. Not only because such ‘claimed letters’ concern a dead man who has been popularly viewed as having been sacrificed by the state for its politics, but also because these ‘claims’ are connected to the Kashmir conflict in a larger way.
The ‘letter’ has been produced a good 5 years after claimed to have been written  by Afzal, and just days after Afzal Guru had been executed, hanging that was followed by huge protests in Kashmir. The handling of Kashmir, post the hanging, by the state by enforcing barricades, censorship and curfews was subject to criticism from many sides. While the timing of the claimed ‘letter’ is in itself questionable, the veracity of same in doubt, there are other unanswered questions too which point to missing links in these claims.
Afzal was lodged in extremely high security cell of Tihar Jail, guarded round the clock by almost 50 armed policemen drawn from Tamil Nadu Special Police (TSP), ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police), and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force). Most of the time he was alone in the death row cell and all his communications (given that there were very few of them in any case) were strictly monitored by the jail authorities. How did then this ‘letter’ pass Tihar Jail scrutiny? And given the fact that all stationary (books, paper, and postages) Afzal used in the jail would be provided, recorded and monitored by the Jail staff in this high security ward, how could Afzal have written such a letter without being scrutinized?
For a moment accepting that Afzal might have written this letter from his cell (with the stationary and postage provided by the Jail authorities) how did the Jail authorities not leak the contents of the letter if the ‘acceptance of guilt’ or ‘justification of the Parliament attack’ was in this correspondence? Clearly all correspondence of Afzal had to be passed, vetted and forwarded by Jail authorities. And had the jail authorities come across such a correspondence, the case of Government of India against Afzal would have become stronger. Had there really been such a correspondence from Afzal, would New Delhi ever miss the chance to make it public before the hanging, only to strengthen its own case for his execution? Remember there have been many voices criticizing the weak defence and flawed trial (and investigations) provided to Afzal. Had Afzal really made such an admission in the ‘claimed letter’ would New Delhi had let go that opportunity to justify its actions?
Even if we take the bleak possibility of Afzal writing this letter and the jail authorities ignoring the contents and the destination of the ‘letter’, why would Afzal of all journalists have chosen a lesser known journalist in Kashmir as its recipient? Afzal surely understood that any letter or correspondence he would share with any journalist would make it available in the public domain. And if Afzal really wanted the letter to be in public domain, he would have sent it to a known journalist or a media house of repute. There could only be two intentions for Afzal behind the correspondence of this ‘letter’, either to have it passed to the UJC chief (United Jehad Council), who has been addressed in the letter, or make it available in the public domain and both of these objectives desired that this letter be send to a well known journalist or media house, where Afzal could get a better focus on his message. What is the footprint of the weekly that claims to have received the letter and how many in Kashmir (leave alone Tihar) have ever heard of it before?
According to the claimed ‘recipient’ of this ‘correspondence’, Afzal had written this letter “in utter frustration” and “he was innocent and was simply claiming something that he had not committed”. Even if we may accept that the letter was written in frustration, would logically Afzal not write it to his wife first rather than a lesser known media person? After all it was Afzal’s wife who not only followed the defence case personally in detail but was the only person who met Afzal in jail and with whom Afzal would confide into. Understanding that such a ‘letter’ would sooner or later make it to the public domain, Afzal would have ensured that his wife was in the know of things if such a letter ever existed. Afzal is perceived to have died for truth and ‘dying for truth’ is different from accepting guilt for killing people. Truth also means ‘I am innocent’.
There have now been reports that Afzals cousin has recognized the handwriting of Afzal in this ‘letter’. But handwriting analysis was never such an easy ‘one glance’ job.  Handwriting analysis is a science for ‘Questioned Document Examiners’ (QDEs). Handwriting recognition is a methodical and tedious process where analysts must accurately distinguish between style and individual characteristics. Handwriting analysis does not start with checking for similarities, but with checking for differences between the original and the claimed. Any attempt of handwriting simulation (copying handwriting) will not be understood or recognized by a normal eye. May note that this claimed ‘letter’ of Afzal resurfaced only days after his last letter, written to his family minutes before his execution, had been disclosed publicly, thereby making available a specimen of his handwriting.  I am not discounting the ability of Azfal’s cousin or questioning his intent but any efficient copy of the handwriting would surely pass his eye as an original. And let us not for a moment even discount the remote possibility of him writing such a ‘letter’; solitary confinement, unending torture and pressures with a looming death penalty for crimes you did not commit could make one write anything. Keep an ordinary man in his place under such extreme situations and chances are that he will even claim to have started 9/11.
But at times even a detailed handwriting test can pass a fake for real. The infamous case of the ‘lost Hitler Diaries’ is a must read in this case. On April 22, 1983 German news magazine ‘Stern’ announced discovery of 60 handwritten journals (diaries) supposedly written by Adolf Hitler. The magazine had paid nearly 9 million German Marks (2.3 million dollars) for the ‘diaries’ to a ‘supposed collector of Nazi memorabilia’ Konrad Kujau, who claimed to have recovered them in an April 1945 air crash wreckage near Dresden. The dairies and the text seemed quite genuine and the diaries were gradually published by the German media while its rights were sold to several international publications.  The London Times (who also purchased the rights) requested 3 international forensic and writing experts to conduct a test for authenticity. After the tests all experts agreed that the diaries were for real and had been written by the same person (Hitler). Later it however took an ink and paper analysis of the diaries to reveal that they were fakes. The paper was found to be in use only after 1954 (while Hitler died in 1945) and the ink test proved that the ‘diaries’ had been written only in last 12 months (prior to the test).
The envisaged repercussions of Afzal’s ‘claimed letter’ are far too many for Kashmir. One it will provide enough material for New Delhi and Indian media to hit back at claims of Afzal’s innocence in the Parliament attack and of a weak trial provided to him. This letter could also be used by forces in Kashmir to quell the discontent that emerged after the hanging and push for an alternative thought for the perceived ‘miscarriage of justice’. In conflicts where the state is often pushing against the popular sentiment on ground, even a purported letter could be used as a psychological tool to subdue minds.
Psychological operations or Psyops is an integral part of any conflict state and such operations are often aimed at ‘deceive, confuse, disrupt and demoralize’. Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu detailed this psychological manipulation as a tool of combat in his ‘The Art of War’. And with decades of experience with Psyops, the possibility of such ‘letters’ being used as another stealth strategy has not been discounted by Kashmiris.
While the journalist who claims to have this ‘letter’ has his right to seek attention and publicity, Kashmiris also have a right to seek answers to their questions. The dead don’t write letters, but the living do demand answers.




By on Feb 19th, 2013, Medianama

It appears that on the same date that orders were given for blocking URLs criticizing IIPM, pursuant to court orders, India’s Department of Telecom issued another set of orders for blocking 55 URLs (all Facebook pages) related to Afzal Guru, who India hanged on Feb 9th 2013, after his mercy petition was rejected by the President of India.
Outlook has published this order here (download it here).

We’ve taken great pains to transcribe the URLs below. Do tell us in the comments to this post whether they work for you or not, and which ISP you are trying to access them from. Most of the URLs do not work for us, on an MTNL Delhi connection.

In case there are other DoT orders floating around, asking for blocking of websites, or if you have a copy of court orders blocking access to websites, contact us at

How should the DoT have approached these blocks?

Read our take on How India Should Approach Website Blocking.

Do follow our live blog for updates on Internet blocks in India.


Brahminical Conscience
Don’t call it, OUR Collective!
The hanging of Afzal Guru on 9th February 2013 has sparked of a serious debate on Capital Punishment and the use of it for achieving political objectives. We witnessed the Left, the Right and the Centre taking the same stand, offering neither resistance nor criticism, while describing hanging as the “Law of the Land.”

We categorically condemn the hanging of Afzal Guru as well as the idea of capital punishment. This legalized, revengeful and cruel murder of a human being has (and is) a danger of being used for achieving mere political stunts to satisfy the majoritarian wishes. The same has happened with Afzal Guru, who was not given a fair trial and was hanged to satisfy the common conscience of the people – as noted and discussed by many legal experts and public intellectuals.

It is not the common conscience per se but the Hindu Brahminical Conscience which was generated through the vicious campaign of RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal supported by the Left, Right and Centre. The Supreme Court itself has set aside that the confession made by him in police interrogation is a result of torture.

If we take a close look at the cases of those being acquitted and convicted; we can find that Marginalized sections were always imposed with the extreme form of punishment (Death Sentence) while the remaining are commuted to Life Imprisonment (Majority are acquitted) . The classic example is Brahmeshwar Mukhiya (A Bhumiahar), the founder chief of Ranvir Sena in Bihar, was involved in the murder and slaughter of nearly 250 Dalits in Bihar was acquitted while five Dalits who were involved in the attack on dominant caste landlords were convicted to death sentence.

The Savarna Liberation Army’s “mass rape” campaign, conducted between March and July 1992 in Gaya and Jehanabad districts, was one of the most heinous. More than 200 Dalit women between the ages of six and 70 were raped by a group of activists of the Savarna Liberation Army. What would this be called? A quench for whose blood by whom? The examples are many and they never end. Why was there inaction on these perpetrators of violence? Would your conscience ever think!

The question is “Why did you hang Afzal?” The voices of the suppressed are building up. We are against this principle of injustice. We voice the slogan “When Injustice
becomes a law, Resistance becomes our Duty”. We raise our voices along with Irom Sharmila Chanu and Kashmiri brothers and sisters. We question the autocratic
suppression by the Hindu Brahminical State on the people from Kashmir and North-Eastern India.

These are questions but from OUR conscience which is emphatically different from yours – Manuvadi Hindu Brahmanical Conscience of the State.

ASA (Ambedkar Student Association) University of Hyderabad


Dear Omar,
 I am forwarding the email I have received from Mr. G.M. Kaloo, President of the J&K Press Association, whom you had met several months back at my request. I have been receiving several such emails from various persons stating that newspapers are not being allowed to be published/distributed in Kashmir, cell phones and internet services have been disabled, and other restrictions placed after the hanging of Afzal Guru.
  My own thinking in the matter is this : no freedom can be absolute, and hence press freedom under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution can also not be absolute, but is subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest vide Article 19(2).
 Kashmir has a law and order problem, and ordinarily it is the state government which is the best judge of the situation and the way to handle it. Hence we should ordinarily respect the decision of the state government. The state government may have thought that for some time there should be a restraint on press freedom, because while many newspapers are responsible, some are not, and may publish inflammatory material which may create a huge law and order problem by inciting people to violence. Hence for some time a restraint order may be justified.
 However, if the restraint is continued too long it may become unreasonable and unjustified. After all, there has to be a limit to the time duration of the restraint order, and it cannot continue indefinitely. People have to be allowed to let off steam and express their grievances peacefully,otherwise their grievances will erupt violently. There is a proverb “Words break no bones”.
 I would therefore request that you consider the matter and discuss it with Mr. Kaloo and other respected and responsible journalists of J&K, and then pass appropriate orders.
  You know that I hold you in respect, and I know of the difficult situation you are facing, and so I hope you will not mind my expressing my view, which I think to be in your interest.
 Justice Katju
Subodh Mukoo wrote:
Publication of news paper has been stopped by the government and thus people deprived of information about day to day developments in Kashmir Valley .
G. H. Kaloo
Jammu Kashmir Press Association(JKPA)
(Subodh K Mukoo)
National Coordinator, JKPA

CM Omar Abdullah‘s Reply :

Dear Justice Katju,

With reference to your emails of today please find attached below my response which I hope you will take in to consideration while making any public statements regarding the media in Kashmir.

Best regards

Omar Abdullah

With reference to your e-mails, I fully share your concern regarding continuation of restrictions in the Kashmir Valley.
The facts are under:-
·       The execution of Afzal Guru took place on Saturday (Feb 9). On Saturday night, some local newspapers like Kashmir Images and Kashmir Reader and a few local Urdu dailies did print and publish their newspapers.
·         Circulation of these papers by the vendors was not possible as there were severe restrictions on any kind of movement in Srinagar city, in particular, and all over Kashmir valley at large.
·         We have been given to understand that on Sunday newspapers have not printed their editions as restrictions were continuing in Kashmir valley and circulation of the same would not have been possible, even if they were to be printed.
·        It may be mentioned that Jammu editions of the Kashmir based papers did get circulated.
·      The Information Department has not issued any directive to the publishers by putting any restrictions.
·         It is true that the internet facilities on GPRS enabled phones  have suffered, but Broadband  Desktop internet facilities are available and the newspapers are updating their editions online.
·        With the Government proposing to ease restrictions in Kashmir valley as the situation improves, movement of vehicles would also be getting facilitated and we are sure that the media publications would also get circulated.
·        The security/ law and order concerns and the restrictions in Kashmir Valley has well been appreciated by you and we acknowledge it with all humility.


Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 11, 2013,
When Kashmiris say they don’t feel part of India, they are only reiterating a truth that Indian politicians and governments voice all the time. What else does it mean when politicians and large sections of the media talk of how happy ‘Indians’ are at the hanging of Afzal Guru, when his execution is touted as a cathartic closure for ‘India’.

The last time I checked, there was curfew in Kashmir and thousands of other justice-loving people were deeply unhappy at the secretive execution, and at the use of the death penalty to fulfil some atavistic blood lust. How else to read the judges’ pronouncement — even as they noted discrepancies in the police version of his guilt — that the hanging was required to satisfy the ‘collective conscience’?  In fact, Durkheim’s phrase ‘collective consciousness’ conceals the manufacture of consent through the media, the courts and other institutions. And contrary to his prediction that in an interdependent and complex society we would see a growth in reparative justice, in India, what we see is the growth of a vulgar retributive justice, where primal passions are deliberately inflamed to create a divide between ‘us’ and ‘them’.‘Us’ in the context of contemporary India means the Bajrang Dal who distributed sweets to celebrate the hanging and blackened the faces of people with opposite views; it means the rightwing goons who groped and sexually abused female protesters outside a Delhi college last week with full police connivance.

But ‘us’ also includes the cynical coterie of Congress politicians who periodically decide to join the BJP bandwagon for electoral purposes. If opening the locks of the Babri Masjid and legislating against the Shah Bano judgement were permanent blots on Rajiv Gandhi’s claim to be secular, his son’s installation in the formal pecking order of the Congress has been accompanied by the opportunistic hanging of Afzal Guru.

Sonia Gandhi may have pleaded against the death penalty for Rajiv’s killers, but unless her party takes a principled position against the death penalty for all, this will seem like the rest of her liberal outreach programme, designed to ensure her own good name.

‘Them’ includes all the ordinary people of India — who have had their lands forcibly acquired, their homes burnt, their relatives killed  — in riots and pogroms. ‘Them’ are the seditious fisher folks of Kudankulam, the grave security threats who inhabit the mineral rich villages of Dantewada, the Naga elder and the Kashmiri woman.

And then there are some whose status as ‘us’ or ‘them’ depends on the political calculations of the day. Balwant Singh Rajoana, on death row for the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, may not be hanged because the Akali lobby is important to ‘us’.  But clearly it is not important enough for the victims of 1984 to get justice, in which case they fall into the ‘them’ category.

We are told that the ‘Law’ has taken its course, the ‘Law has come full circle’. Where is this law when the widows of Delhi 1984 are still waiting for justice — and people like HKL Bhagat have died before they could be hung (not that this was ever a worry for him); when the murderers of Gujarat 2002 are still roaming free, and having the EU and others cosy up to their government? Did the law come full circle when the murderers of Bathani Tola were acquitted? Where was the law when thousands of mass graves were uncovered in Kashmir and thousands ‘disappeared’; where is this law when women are raped and their rapist officers or jawans get full protection under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)?

Deponents at the Verma Commission provided a number of cases in Kashmir where the courts had prima facie indicted army personnel, but the central government refused to give permission to prosecute. The Upendra Commission clearly found that Thangjam Manorama was raped and murdered by personnel of the Assam Rifles in Manipur, but not one person has been punished. In Chhattisgarh, young bravehearts who filed rape cases against special police forces with great difficulty  — resulting in arrest warrants against the accused  — are being coerced to take their statements back. But then, I forgot, Kashmiris, Manipuris, the adivasis of central India — are not ‘us’, they are not ‘Indian’.

When asked why the AFSPA is needed to protect armed personnel — since rape can never be done in the line of duty — high-ranking officers come on television to say that 99% of the charges against the army are false, and the women are put up to it by Maoists and militants. So shall we assume then, that the women of the North-east, of Kashmir and adivasi India are congenital liars? Or that the law is designed to ensure they are fair game, a welcome pastime in the ‘course of duty’? Or perhaps, more simply, these women are not ‘Indians’.

If to be Indian is to accept the death penalty, if to be Indian is to accept the unjust hanging of a tortured man born of a tortured and alienated people, if to be Indian is to accept the rapes of my sisters and the impunity of its officers, let me say in the words of the Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet, “Yes, I am a traitor, if you are a patriot, if you are a defender of our homeland, I am a traitor to my homeland; I am a traitor to my country… if patriotism is the claws of your village lords, … if patriotism is the police club, if your allocations and your salaries are patriotism,… if patriotism is not escaping from our stinking black-minded ignorance, then I am a traitor.”

Nandini Sundar teaches sociology at Delhi University. The views expressed by the author are personal.