To hang or not to hang

I agree that the death penalty is abhorrent and contradicts India?s claim to be a humane society. But can we ever change a criminal mind by showing mercy?

india Updated: Nov 18, 2006 00:44 IST

In her article Warning: Handle with care (November 11), BarkhaDutt argues that Afzal Guru should not be hanged. I agree that the death penalty is abhorrent and contradicts India’s claim to be a humane society. But can we ever change a criminal mind by showing mercy? Shouldn’t such evil be nipped at the earliest?

Shraddha Kaul, Noida


Barkha Dutt has referred to the current scenario in the Kashmir Valley vis-a-vis religious radicalism. No humanitarian gesture is likely to deter Islamic fundamentalists. A decision on Afzal’s appeal needs to be taken with courage and maturity.

PL Bakhshi, Delhi


I Endorse Barkha Dutt’s opinion that even if Afzal is hanged, the terror problem that India faces will not cease.

Omar Luther King, Delhi


It was shocking to read Barkha Dutt’s article advocating the case of a traitor and warning about the consequences of carrying out the judgment of the Supreme Court. She had not cared to mention the hapless victims of the barbarous attack. Dutt should concentrate on journalism and leave judicial analysis to Jethmalani, who is capable of building a defence for Afzal like in other cases.

OP Tandon,Delhi


Barkha Dutt’s article is an attempt by the media to browbeat the law of the land. The tinderbox of Kashmir will find some other ignition to explode even if the life of Afzal is spared. This is because the root cause, pointed out by Barkha herself, is religious hatred spread by fundamentalists in the Valley. Our law-enforcing agencies can control any lawlessness erupting in the event of Afzal’s hanging.

PP Sehgal, via e-mail

Security is must

It is regrettable that Madhur Singh in Nice guns, but the butter? (November 15) is unaware of the security constraints of India. We forget that if we sleep in peace, it is because thousands of jawans keep vigil round the clock.

Security is like insurance whose benefits are known only when calamity befalls. The government examines each and every requirement of the armed forces critically before releasing funds. And India spends less than 3 per cent of its GDP on defence, which is not much.

MMP Kala,Dehradun

Siachen withdrawal

The government and the public should seriously take into account the army’s opinion on withdrawal from Siachen (No cold comfort, November 14). The army is facing the brunt of defending this strategic position. If the army is withdrawn, it will save many lives and lots of money. But how can we trust Pakistan on this issue? If we do consider the proposal, it should be part of a larger settlement, including Kashmir. Your suggestion of unilateral recording of positions is dangerous, to say the least.

KK Kutty, Mumbai


Drunken driving killed six people and injured 16 last week. The public perception is that people get away with impunity in these cases and are set free. In some cases the drivers have berated the authorities for allowing the poor to sleep on the pavement. Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is relegated to Section 304 of the IPC, where the maximum punishment is two years’ jail and a fine of Rs 2,000. The cases drag on for years and inordinate delay in cases involving celebrities is common. Every day there are serious accidents and the major reason is DUI.

MM Gurbaxani, Bangalore

India’s future

Thinker Journalists are a rare species these days. Most journalists are mere seekers of sound bites from leaders in the limelight. It was, therefore, a pleasant surprise to find one in Manoj Joshi (Epic in progress, November 15). I, however, disagree with his other analysis. This land has produced Shivaji, who was no less than Napoleon and Alexander. Caste and other differences and even the limiting factor of poverty disappear once people’s sights are set on the goal of making India a superpower. One can hear the footsteps of such a leader.

GB Sardesai, Mumbai

Private initiative

With Reference to the article Chewing over China (November 13), China’s economy is projected to overtake that of the US by 2035. We have a lesson to learn from this. Instead of opposing free trade policies, more private participation must be encouraged in every sector, including health, education and social welfare.

India’s policy-makers should take note that more private participation can accelerate growth. Considering the rate of growth of India’s population, economic growth cannot happen without help from the private sector.

Hrishikesh Abhyankar, Mumbai

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First Published: Nov 18, 2006 00:44 IST