So, three more terrorist – Mohammed Hanif Sayed, his wife Fahimida and Ashrat Shafique Ansari – have been sentenced to death after 6 years, for killing 54 people and injuring 244 others in the twin blasts at Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar in 2003.  

One more probable, the prime accused in 26/11 terror attack case Mohammed Ajmal Kasab is currently enjoying his life, as a guest of the Government of India. He is refusing to eat food given to  him and throwing away utensils in his cell saying that he wants to have ‘mutton biryani’. Reportedly he had wanted somebody to tie a Rakhi to him on Raksha bandhan day. Whether he is offered the noose instead, at the end of the trial, remains to be seen.

One shudders at the possibilities of the case being dragged forever, being politicised for vote banks or being pressurized by bogus right activists or fake clemency seekers.

There are several voices that have demanded a different and exemplary treatment for Kasab. The  Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray wanted a  public hanging without delay, a sentiment echoed by several relatives of different slain police officers who were killed during the attack. Even the All India Milli Council supported the idea of hanging Kasab without a trial, citing judgements from Sharia. 

As the following article shows, there are over 300 people on death row, some 28 at the final stage of seeking presidential pardon while the rest are awaiting results of appeals to courts. 

Afzal guru, convicted of conspiracy in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India in 2004, remains the most publicised and politicised convict of recent time. The sentence that was supposed to be carried out in October 2006, has remained stayed.

One wonders what is the point of such sentences if there is a clear lack of effort in carrying them out. Why does our government fail repeatedly to uphold its own judicial system?

One also wonder why the media builds stories trying to humanize these heinous creatures, dragging their childhood, interviewing their family, highlighting their desires, glamorizing their training and so on? Why not spend the time and effort in doing the same for the hundreds of victims, dead or disabled and thus build opinion against terror and terrorists, while promoting solidarity with the victims and their families. 


 300 death row convicts hang on to life


 New Delhi: Mohammed Hanif Sayed, his wife Fahimida and their associate Ashrat Shafique Ansari who were sentenced to death by a special court Thursday for the 2003 Mumbai twin blasts will join a list of over 300 people on death row in the country’s prisons.

The three were held guilty of carrying out the August 25, 2003, blasts in Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazar in which 54 people were killed and 244 injured.

According to a 2007 report released by human rights groups Amnesty International and the People’s Union of Civil Liberties, at least 140 of those in death row were sentenced between 2006 and 2007. Last year, 70 people across the country were sentenced to death in India.

The report, Lethal Lottery: The Death Penalty in India, is the first comprehensive analysis of around 700 Supreme Court judgements on death penalty cases over more than 50 years.

According to the Home Ministry, there are at least 28 prisoners at the final stage of seeking presidential pardon while the rest are awaiting results of appeals to courts.

Among those whose mercy petitions are still with the president are Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who is currently lodged in New Delhi’s high-security Tihar jail.

While Afzal Guru is the most publicised case on the list, there are other high-profile convicts as well.

Also on the list are the mercy petitions of Murugan, Shanthan and Perarivalan who have been convicted for their role in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The death sentence of Murugan’s wife, Nalini, was commuted to life-term.

Sikh militant Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s petition has been pending since 2004. He was given the death sentence for masterminding the attempt on the life of former Youth Congress chief Maninderjit Singh Bitta.

India last carried out a death sentence in 2004 when Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in 1990.

His mercy petition was rejected by the President.

While the Home Ministry maintains that it will review all mercy petitions in chronological order, opinion is divided within the government on fixing time limits for deciding on the petitions.

Some cabinet ministers believe that the death penalty should be replaced with life sentence without parole, maintaining they are an effective replacement for the death penalty.

A total of 135 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, having realised executions are unacceptable.