Junaid Manzoor /Kaiser Majeed
SRINAGAR: SRINAGAR: The speakers at a seminar ‘Is Capital Punishment a Solution’ organised by Awami Itihad Party (AIP) on Saturday pledged that they will continue to fight for justice and right to self -determination.
AIP organised the seminar at a local hotel here to pay tributes to Muhammad Maqbool Bhat and Muhammad Afzal Guru on their death anniversaries. Both Bhat and Guru were hanged in 1984 and 2013 in Delhi’s Tihar Jail and buried inside its premises.
AIP president and independent MLA from Langate Er Rasheed on the occasion said the capital punishment is no solution at all. “Had it been a solution, no one would have taken up arms after the hanging of Maqbool Bhat. What happened after Afzal Guru’s hanging is an ample reason to take into consideration that capital punishment should be abolished,” he said.
Rasheed said while Hurriyat “represents the sentiments and sacrifices of people of Kashmir, the need of the hour is that its leadership should earn well wishers for the movement and not count everyone on the other side”.
“The fight is much much bigger. Kashmiris are not united and lack a proper strategy; masses will just go on sacrificing and leaders will continue to wait for searching opportunities to propagate their agenda,” he added.
MLA Langate said “whatsoever valid questions” Azfal Guru’s wife has raised from time to time, the need is to introspect and find the answers.
Rasheed also slammed the police and civil administration for denying the permission to hold the seminar at Hotel Lala Rukh saying that “party was informed at 11 PM about the decision”.
“This act is yet another evidence of the frustration on part of government,” AIP president said.
The seminar was attended by scores of people and family members who had lost their kith and kin in the past three decades. The families shared their pain and plight as how “justice was denied” to them.
Among the speakers was a 90-year-old man Sabz Ali Khan who has lost his sons and now feeds nearly a dozen orphans.
Meanwhile, a statement of Justice Hasnain Masoodi was read out on the occasion. “The right to life has been the most cherished right but the death penalty takes away this right in the name of retribution. How can a state kill a person in the name of retribution because the person is said to have committed an offence that the state wants to avenge?”
Terming the capital punishment as “the relic of barbarism”, Masoodi in a statement said it “degrades the very existence of human life”.
“Death penalty extinguishes the last way of reformation and social integration… The death sentence over the years has been used and selectively executed across the subcontinent as a tool of political vengeance,” the statement said.
“Both in case of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru, the facts suggest that the principles of fair trial or fair execution weren’t followed. It is highly doubtful whether legal assistance in case of Maqbool Bhat was provided during his trial. In case of Maqbool Bhat, the sentence was imposed in 1968 and executed in 1984 after 16 long years. In case of Afzal Guru, the execution of death sentence was hurried and though far behind in the queue, the sentence was executed that too without information to his family.”
“In both the cases, it is highly doubtful whether the adequate legal assistance was provided during the trial. None from the legal luminaries came forward to defend them and it was left to the trial court to appoint an amicus curiae,” Justice Masoodi in a statement remarked.