THE LAWFILE

Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

We don’t want to bleed anymore

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PUBLISHED IN ZEE NEWS INDIA

When the general secretary of the Congress party, Rahul Gandhi walked into the RML Hospital premises on September 07 after the Delhi High Court blast, slogans were shouted against him. And so were against other politicians who came to empathise with the victims and their families. This in many ways is symbolic of the growing frustration of the general public with those who govern them and the apathy with which they are treated.

India has been attacked again and again. Sample this – On March 12, 1993, Mumbai serial bombings shook the financial capital of the country killing more than 250 people. The main accused, Dawood Ibrahim is yet to be extradited to India from Pakistan. On December 13, 2001, more than a dozen people, including five gunmen, were killed in an attack on Parliament. On September 24, 2002, terrorists attacked Akshardham temple in Gujarat. In August 2003, two taxis packed with explosives blew up in Mumbai at crowded areas killing more than 50 people.

In October 2005, three bombs placed in Delhi markets, crowded with Diwali shoppers killed around 62 people and injured hundreds. In July 2006, seven bombs placed on Mumbai’s local trains killed over 200 people. Eight serial blasts rocked Jaipur in a span of 12 minutes in May 2008. On November 26, 2008, attacks on ten locations in Mumbai left more than 180 dead. Pakistani national, Ajmal Kasab has been sentenced to death with an appeal pending before the Supreme Court.

The list, sadly, goes on…

The Ram Pradhan Committee formed after 26/11 attacks to look into the lapses and recommend measures to stop further attacks, called for radical transformation of the police force. In spite of its recommendations, the beat constable is still unequipped, CCTV cameras still do not work and the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad established in 2004 is reportedly working at some 30 percent of the strength as compared to the numbers sanctioned by the government.

National Intelligence Grid was given approval by the Union Cabinet in June this year, months after the idea was first mooted. The project aimed at facilitating information-sharing among law enforcement agencies to combat terror was apparently delayed because of objections from other ministries, especially that of defence and finance, as they felt that the home ministry would have an unlimited access to all the information.

National Counter Terrorism Council (NCTC), an umbrella body to fight terror is also in the pipeline. Not sure when it will see the light of the day.

Delhi Chief Minister, after the High Court blast, had remarked that “multiplicity of agencies” created functional problem in combating terror and solving cases. To which the Home Minister P Chidambaram had replied that no single body can alone handle internal and external intelligence, policing and counter-terrorism. How often have we heard the government talk in different languages? And if statements like these do no create confusion in the minds of the citizens then what does?

On May 25, 2011, a blast took place at the Delhi High Court car park. Nonetheless it did nothing to wake up the authorities.

Home Minister recently said that Af-Pak was the epicentre of terror and that home-grown terror modules are fertilised from outside. And to a foreign television channel he said, “As far as cross-border terrorism is concerned, we have to continue to put pressure on Pakistan.”
The Indian Mujahideen gained notoriety in 2008 after taking responsibility for blasts in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Delhi and Assam, even though it had been active since 2003. As per intelligence reports, the IM is being controlled from across the border. It was also reported recently that militants trying to infiltrate into India by June had exceeded the figures of 2010.

In this scenario what good are the photo-ops between SM Krishna and Hina Rabbani Khar, especially if the perpetrators of 26/11 cannot be brought to book? Yes, we cannot change our neighbours but we can certainly change the way we talk to them. Yes, trade and commerce are important issues, but not at the cost of losing innocent lives.

P Chidambram, was supposedly pulled back when he decided to tighten the noose around the Maoists, due to pressures from certain quarters and certain political parties. After the Batkal encounter case in Delhi, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, decided to visit Azamgarh. The Afzal Guru hanging case has long been in the public domain for the people to read between the lines. Isn’t it time we stop the policy of appeasement and vote-banks at the cost of bloodshed?

Congress leader Renuka Chowdhry said in a recent television debate, “Do you think that the terrorists will stop if we have a CCTV? What do you do when terrorists are ready to die?” After the serial blasts in Mumbai in July, Prithviraj Chavan, CM of Maharashtra lamented, “Terror groups are active and are able to strike at will.” Instead of statements like these, we need our leaders to send out a stern message to all terror groups that India will go after them in hot pursuit. And we also need a strong anti-terror law in place.

We have generic information about impending attacks but are we in a position to have specific and actionable and preventive attacks. Do our intelligence agencies depend too much on technical intelligence? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed the same concern at a recent event when he said that security establishment needed to improve its, “human intelligence capabilities”.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley said in a television interview, post the Delhi HC blast, “The most dangerous thing is that in the last six or so blasts, the cases are by and large unsolved.”

Think over this – On December 7, 2010, a bomb went off at a Varanasi ghat killing a two-year old girl with no arrests made in the case so far. On December 19, 2010, gunmen on motorbikes shot at a tourist bus injuring two persons. It was considered to be IM’s handiwork. The case is unsolved. On July 13, 2011, triple blasts in Mumbai killed 21 persons, with IM being the prime suspect. ATS is investigating, with an arrest only very recently. On April 6, 2011, two blasts took place in Maligaon in Assam which killed 7 persons. Investigation is on, ULFA are the main suspects. Inspite of some arrests, it is said that the main culprit is still in the run. And the very recent May 25, 2011, Delhi High Court car park blast with no casualties. It too remains unsolved. And add to it the 7/11 blast again at Delhi HC – not much headway in this case either.

Yes, it is a cause for alarm if cases of terror attacks are unsolved for a long period of time.

Amidst all these spare a thought for the victims of the bomb blasts – past and present and if I may add with a dread – the future. The citizens don’t want to be saluted anymore for their so called resilience and die-hard-spirit – what they want is to live in peace and dignity. And anyways what choice do they have than to get up and get going the next day?

Yes, maybe terror attacks all over the world cannot be prevented all the time. Nonetheless, it is important for the government and the intelligence agencies of the day to be perceived as trying to do their best.

 

ORIGIN: http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/we-don-t-want-to-bleed-anymore_734644.html

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Kasab ka Hisaab – Beyond the Death Sentence

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Mehak Budhrani in The Chakra

This century, the word ‘K’ has dominated India in the arenas of Business, Government and especially Television. But only one ‘K’ shook India within hours – “Kasab”, the only surviving terrorist of 26/11. On the night of November 26, 2008 a war against India was waged which went on till the afternoon of November 29. Only Kasab was captured alive while the other nine terrorists were killed by the security forces. The Kasab trial went on for two years before a death sentence was passed to him on five counts of murder, conspiracy to murder, waging war against the country, abetting murder and indulging in terrorist activities, on the 6th of May, 2010. Kasab was also awarded life imprisonment on five other counts, which included attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and violation of the Explosive Substances Act. Under the law, death sentence awarded to an accused by trial court comes up before the high court for confirmation. The High Court confirmed the order passed by the trial court on 21st February 2011.

Until the verdict was passed, during the two years, there was a huge uproar among the Indians which was justified. A national newspaper reported that “The cash-strapped Congress-led Democratic Front government in Maharashtra has been spending well over Rs 2 lakh a day on India’s priciest prisoner”. (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2010-05-05/news/27590949_1_arthur-road-jail-ajmal-kasab-jail-premises)

The Government of India gets money in the form of taxes paid by the citizens of India. The people were infuriated as to why their money was being spent for the protection and treatment of a perpetrator when there was enough evidence against him in the form of CCTV camera footage. The world witnessed the worst form of fear during 9/11. Osama did not go unpunished. He was brutally killed by the American Security Forces in Abbotabad, Pakistan. Don’t we wonder why Osama wasn’t given a chance to be tried by the American Jury? Then why is the Indian Government treating the Kasab issue so lightly? Shouldn’t he be dealt with in the same way the Americans dealt with their terrorist? But our Government claims that they are happy that Kasab was tried in a normal court of law and then given the death sentence. In a way, our democratic spirit is being enshrined.

Even though there was a sense of relief amongst the country and the families of those who were killed in the attack, when the death sentence was passed, there is another thought that confronts us. Do suicide bombers and terrorists really fear death? Kasab knew what he had come for and also knew his fate. Then will the death sentence create a sense of fear in his followers or will it make him a martyr? Surely such a subversive act must be punished in the most severe way. Special Public Prosecutor in the case, Ujjwal Nikam, opinionated that “Kasab is a killing machine and the manufacturing factory of such killing machines are still in Pakistan”. We all know that Kasab’s family was promised Rs 1.5 lakh for his sacrifice by the LeT. If such atrocious acts are awarded and such fanatics are treated as martyrs, then is a death penalty the right approach?

The passing of the death sentence opens up the following avenues for Kasab:

1. Appeal to the Supreme Court.

2. If the Supreme Court upholds the judgment of the High Court and the Lower Court, Kasab can file for a clemency plea to the President of India.

If Kasab files for a plea in the Supreme Court, and if the Supreme Court grants a life sentence, then will the Government spend some more money for the terrorist?

Capital Punishment in India is given in the rarest of rare cases. Currently, there are more than 100 people who have been awarded the death sentence but are in the queue to be executed.

Article 72 of the Indian Constitution gives the President the powers to reduce the sentence or grant a pardon to a convict, especially those involving capital punishment. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, between 1995-2006, the President has rejected seven mercy petitions and commuted two, while between 1985 to 1994 it rejected 41 mercy petitions and commuted four. As many as 173 such petitions were received between 1975 to 1984 of which 121 were rejected and 52 commuted. However, a maximum of 543 mercy petitions were commuted between 1965 to 1974 during which 491 such petitions were rejected. According to Amnesty International figures at least 100 people in 2007, 40 in 2006, 77 in 2005, 23 in 2002, and 33 in 2001 were sentenced to death (but not yet executed). Looking at these figures, if Kasab is given an option to ask for mercy, how long will it be before he recompensates for his doings? The procedure for a Clemency plea (mercy petition) is long before final justice actually takes place. The clemency plea could lead to:

1. Grant of Pardon

2. Rejection of Plea

This again would put Kasab in the queue before the other convicts are executed. This is now a political issue as we have to wait and watch if the Government of India executes this sentence expeditiously or will allow the queue system to continue.

The question to raise here is, is a death penalty or a life sentence enough for Kasab or should he be treated as mercilessly as he acted? Is this act of leniency on part of the Government of India assuring terrorists such as Kasab that they will be treated ordinarily and hence lead to recurring attacks? These issues are yet to be dealt with and answers awaited for. But the real issue which needs to be highlighted is that, is the death penalty really a deterrent for any terrorist?