Resolution passed jointly by Kashmiri
Syed Ali Geelani, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Mohammad Yaseen Malik, Mian Abdul Qayyoom, Nisar Ali
At a meeting of the Society for the Protection of Detainees’ and Prisoners’ Rights on Saturday, September 24, 2005 at Taj Hotel Budshah Chok Srinagar, we were deeply shocked to learn that Mohammad Afzal has been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India without having an opportunity to defend himself. This is one more example of how the Indian courts are used for making political statements at the cost of lives of Kashmiri people. On the one hand the Indian political leaders talk about peace process in Kashmir and taking confidence building measures on the other hand Kashmiris like Afzal are sentenced to death without even a fair trial?
The judgement of the Supreme Court states that the attack on the Indian Parliament resulted in heavy casualties and has "shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender."
We the people of Kashmir ask why the collective conscience of Indians is not shaken by the fact that a Kashmiri has been sentenced to death without a fair trial, without a chance to represent himself? Throughout the trial at the sessions court Mohammad Afzal asked the judge to appoint a lawyer. He even named various lawyers but they all refused to represent him. Is it his fault that the Indian lawyers think that it is more patriotic to allow a Kashmiri to die rather than ensure he gets a fair trial?
At the High Court an Indian human rights lawyer who volunteered to represent Afzal actually asked the court that Afzal wanted to be killed by a lethal injection instead of by hanging. Afzal did not know that his lawyer had filed such a petition on his behalf till after the case was over and he had been given three death sentences.
At the Supreme Court the senior lawyer and former Law Minister, Shantibhushanji [Shanti Bhushan] , who was representing another co-accused told the court that Afzal was guilty and deserved to die. He made such statements throughout, both inside the court and in the print media.
In Sarabjeet Sigh’s case the Indian Prime Minister and Indian media has been campaigning with the Pakistan authorities to spare his life. And for the sake of the Indo-Pak friendship process Sarabjeet Singh’s life will be spared but is it not a contradiction that the same leaders think that Afzal’s life needs to be sacrificed at the altar of false notion of national security.
We resolve to launch a Kashmir-wide signature campaign in support of our demand that the death sentence on Afzal be commuted.
Syed Ali Geelani
Shabir Ahmad Shah
Mohammad Yaseen Malik
Mian Abdul Qayyoom
Nisar Ali (Trade Union Centre).
From "Afzal's Story in His Words" published by the
Society for the Protection of Detainees' and Prisoners' Rights
New Delhi, October 2006, pp. 29-31.
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