Vantage point

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Afzal Issue

Those of you who know how opinionated I am will be surprised to know that I am somewhat of an agnostic on the issue of capital punishment. I can't find myself taking a strong position either supporting it or opposing it. There are convincing arguments and rationalisations from both sides, and I am firmly entrenched on the fence.

Recently the death sentence awarded to Afzal, who was involved in plotting the attack on the parliament, has been in news. There have been several commentators arguing against the statement. Afzal has been awarded(!) the sentence, not for killing someone in cold blood, but for waging war against the state. Apart from murder, to the best of my knowledge, the Indian law gives death sentences for only two more crimes. One is dealing in drugs, though I don't know if anyone has been executed for that. The other is waging a war against the Indian state.

Does Afzal deserve to hang for waging war against the state?

If he has been proven an accomplice in the plot, which he has been by various courts, then I do believe he deserves to hang. Finally we are seeing someone being punished for cold blooded terrorism, and it being differentiated from just regular(!!) murder.