Mercy Petitions For Terrorists Must Be Abolished
Do terrorists deserve mercy? Are terrorists ordinary criminals that they can claim mercy petition as their birthright? Are the human rights of terrorists more important or that of an ordinary citizen whom they kill indiscriminately? Why do we treat terrorists not as ordinary criminals but as VVIPs? Why does our government succumb to their demands but never succumb to an ordinary criminal? Why does our government declare ceasefire only for terrorists and not for a murderer or any other criminal? Why does our government hold talks with only terrorists and not other criminals? Why do our State Assemblies pass resolution only for saving a terrorist from being sent to the gallows and not other criminals? Why does our government spare no time in hanging rapists like Dhanonjoy Chatterjee who was convicted only on the basis circumstantial evidence and trembles in hanging a terrorist like Afzal Guru or Devender Pal Singh Bhullar? Many such troubling questions keep troubling one’s mind always.
In my college days, I always mistook dacoits for terrorists but my best friend Sageer Khan cleared up all my doubts. He said that an ordinary criminal like a dacoit or rapist or robber or murderer never goes to Pakistan or any other foreign country for getting training on how to commit dacoity or rape or robbery or murder but a terrorist always goes and gets such training to commit terror acts. Ordinary criminals attack and affect adversely either one or few persons but in case of terrorists, things are quite different because terrorists don’t attack just one or few individuals rather they attack and affect adversely our nation as a whole whom they want to destroy completely. A terrorist always declares war on the nation but an ordinary criminal never does so. A terrorist always gets all types of aid from foreign countries but an ordinary criminal gets no such help. An ordinary criminal will never attack national symbols like Parliament, Red Fort, Supreme Court but terrorists always dream of attacking such places and sometimes have been able to partially attack them also and yet our politicians hold talks with them and pass resolution in their favour and not for ordinary criminals. An enemy soldier during a war attacks our army soldiers but terrorists are worse than them as they rarely attack men in uniform and always enjoy attacking innocent people especially pilgrims to holy shrines and still many of our leaders plead mercy for them. Do they deserve mercy?
Our PM Dr Manmohan Singh has time and time again warned of terrorists launching attacks on our nuclear installations by which our entire nation can be destroyed. Still should they be allowed to file a mercy petition as their birthright? The latest gruesome terror attack on Delhi High Court is nothing and even the bone-chilling terror attack on Mumbai on 26/11 in 2008 was just a small trailer if terror leaders like Hafiz Sayyid are to be believed. They say in coming there will be millions of terror attacks and even our big dams like Tehri are on their hit list. But our MLAs who pass resolutions in their favour are least bothered about all this as they point out their experience in India of “saab chalta hain” and how terrorists have their sympathizers in every party which alone explains why repeatedly the Centre and states hold talks with them only and not with a murderer or any other criminals. By showing respect for human rights for terrorists, who have suffered the most? We all know.
Recently, when senior counsel KTS Tulsi was pleading for mercy for death row convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who was sentenced to death by a designated TADA Court on August 25, 2001, for his role in the September 10, 1993, bomb blast in Delhi, Justice GS Singhvi told the counsel, “Has anyone examined the psyche of victims of violence? Several security persons died in defending Parliament and these people have been forgotten in a day. In this incident, nine persons were killed and 27 injured; what about their human rights? It is difficult to ignore the reasons for delay, but persons who committed the crime think that at a given time, a particular political combination will come (to power) and will give support for commutation (of the sentence). Delay gives a huge hope.” The Congress party which has been in power for maximum period at the Centre as also those parties who have been in power at the Centre must seriously give it food for thought as these opinions are not of one ordinary individual but of a senior Judge of the Supreme Court.
We have lost many dynamic charismatic leaders including former Prime Ministers like the late Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and many others in terrorists attacks but what a pity that still we treat terrorists as ordinary criminals and extend the privilege of mercy petition to them.Things have come to such a pass that Pakistani leaders like Rahman Malik are asking for Kasab to be hanged but this “mercy petition privilege” will ensure cent percent that for another decade he is not hanged and kept in jail warmly.
Those advocating mercy for terrorists dish out various Articles of the Constitution or various Sections of IPC or CrPC to support their arguments that even the law favours them. Why do they forget that when our Constitution or CrPC or other laws were prepared, there was no terrorism whatsoever in our country. It is only in the last three decades or so that terrorism started rearing its ugly head in India with full help from foreign countries who want to destroy us completely and they receive direct aid from such MPs and MLAs who pass resolutions demanding clemency for terrorists or holding talks with terrorists unlike other ordinary criminals with whom they never like to even interact or see their face. Can anyone deny that in just 15 years—from 1994 to 2009—nearly 30, 000 people have been killed in various terror attacks, what to say about security forces who are their prime targets. Still our elected representatives want that no terrorist should ever be hanged and this special privilege of holding talks with the likes of VVIPs should also be reserved only for terrorists and not for rapists or dacoits or other criminals.
Distinguishing a terrorist attack from a criminal activity, the Supreme Court in Mohd Khalid vs State of West Bengal, 2002 (7) SCC 334 held, “It may be possible to describe it as use of violence when its most important result is not merely the physical and mental damage of the victim but the prolonged psychological effect it produces or has the potential of producing on the society as a whole. There may be death, injury or destruction of property or even deprivation of individual liberty in the process but the extent and reach of the intended terrorist activity travels beyond the effect of an ordinary crime capable of being punished under the ordinary penal law of the land and its main objective is to overawe the government or disturb the harmony of the society or ‘terrorise’ people and the society and not only those directly assaulted, with a view to disturb the tempo, peace and tranquility of the society and create a sense of fear and insecurity.”
It is an unbeatable irony that repeated terror attacks including the latest one on Delhi High Court have also failed in igniting a stirring debate about abolishing mercy petition for terrorists and setting a time limit. Within this the case of terrorists must be decided right from the lowest to the highest courts so that the right message percolates down that terror acts won’t go unpunished and terrorists can’t escape the gallows for long and their political connections will carry no weightage. But sadly this is not happening so right now! Rather the pernicious, divisive practice which has been set in motion is that if the terrorist is from Tamil Nadu, the whole Assembly will pass a resolution that their terrorist will not be hanged and this holds true for other states also. The welfare of the people and our national interests must be paramount and not that of terrorists or their elected representatives who support them or the lawyers who argue their case or the countries like Pakistan which train and send them to India to cause maximum mayhem and destruction!
By Sanjeev Sirohi