The way political parties cutting across party lines are asking for clemency for Mohd Afzal, the mastermind behind the attack on Parliament attack is pathetic to say the least. This shows the mindset of the leaders of this country, who on one hand talk about being tough on terror and on the other ask for pardoning a terrorist, just because he is a Kashmiri.
Appeasement of minority if followed so drastically will cause harm to the country's unity and integrity to such an extent that these politicians couldn't even imagine. One cannot politicise each and every issue, but sadly this is what these leaders have been doing. The PDP, the NC, the APHC, the Left and even the Congress have been vocal in asking for showing of leniency to Afzal. Violent protest has become a daily part of Srinagar even since the Supreme Court announced and confirmed the death sentence.
Linking the peace process with Afzal can never be justified and this is what is being tried by these "people's representatives". The argument that Afzal being a Kashmiri, hanging him will have serious repercussions against the peace process is absurd. A terrorist cannot hold the peace process to ransom and if he does then there is something seriously wrong with the whole process.
How can someone ask for pardoning a person who tried his best to destroy the entire political structure of the country? Does he deserve sympathy just because he belongs to a particular state (Jammu & Kashmir)? Would these parties react the same way if the terrorist had been from some other state and not of the minority community? These are some questions that need to be answered by the people who are asking for clemency for Afzal.
The local parties who talk about Kashmiriyat have, from inception tried to project Jammu & Kashmir as a separate part of India, so as to strengthen their demand for autonomy. Political gimmicks like these is not anything new in relation to the Himalayan state. They need to understand that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India and their far-fetched dream of an autonomous J&K can never be true.
Their demand is based on an illusion that one day Kashmir will be given autonomy, but one cannot achieve anything substantive if he's following an illusion. A Kashmiri cannot be governed by a different set of law just because he belongs to that state.
According to All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), hanging Afzal will turn him into a martyr! One must be out of his mind to term Afzal a martyr. And if he is on his way to become a martyr, then surely Nathuram Godse and Kehar Singh were all martyrs.
They all had their independent notion of "Right and Wrong" and for that they killed the people whom they thought should be killed. Kehar Singh killed Indira Gandhi, because he thought Mrs Gandhi had committed a crime against the whole Sikh community. Is he a martyr? Is Godse a martyr? Or for that matter are the people involved behind the assassination of Rajeev Gandhi a bunch of martyrs?
In Palestine, anyone who dies fighting against Israel is a martyr. Is this what the parties like APHC trying to portray? Are they asking the international community to view J&K as an international problem? A conflict between two states?
The history, issues and the ground realities in Palestine are very different from J&K. Jammu & Kashmir is a problem that is a result of Pakistan's evil plans, much like what they tried in Punjab. In north we have Kashmir, in south and central India we have the Naxalites and in the north-eastern states we have the ULFA separatists. One can call it by any name, militancy, terrorism or Naxalism. The truth is that terrorists are terrorists, anywhere and everywhere; they do what they are best at doing; spreading terror.
One cannot term them as freedom fighters. Are not terrorists active in Balochistan? Or they should also be termed as freedom fighters?
Afzal is not being hanged without being heard, the due process of law has been followed in his case, and the three tiers of judiciary have confirmed his sentence. If anyone deserves capital punishment, it's Afzal, because what he did was truly a rarest of rare crime. Had he succeeded, this country's security would have been jeopardised, internally and externally.
This case doesn't deserve any clemency and certainly it doesn't deserve any patronage from the political parties.
Abhinandan Mishra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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