Academics, writers, and artistes write to Prez on Afzal hanging


In a letter addressed to President Pranab Mukherjee over two hundred signatories including academics, writers, artists and filmmakers have protested the rejection of parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru’s mercy petition and the manner in which he was hastily executed denying him the legal rights of judicial review that were available to him.

The letter noted: “We believe that you made a grave error in rejecting the mercy petition. If you had perused the trial records and the lengthy documentation put together over the years by lawyers and civil rights activists, or even the Supreme Court judgement which sentenced Afzal to death, you would have known, that his guilt was never established beyond reasonable doubt.

“The fact that the Court appointed as amicus curiae (friend of the court) a lawyer in whom Afzal had expressed no faith; the fact that he went legally unrepresented from the time of his arrest till his so-called confession, the fact that the court asked him to either accept the lawyer appointed by the Court or cross examine the witness himself should surely have concerned you while considering his mercy petition.”

Full Text of the Statement and the List of Signatories follows:

The Hon’ble President of India

Respected Sir,

We write to you in deep anguish, despair but in outrage as well. Afzal Guru was hanged on Saturday (9th February 2013) in secrecy. We have been told – after the hanging – that you rejected the mercy petition filed by Guru’s wife Tabassum, on 3rd February. We believe that you made a grave error in rejecting the mercy petition. If you had perused the trial records and the lengthy documentation put together over the years by lawyers and civil rights activists, or even the Supreme Court judgement which sentenced Afzal to death, you would have known, that his guilt was never established beyond reasonable doubt. The fact that the Court appointed as amicus curiae (friend of the court) a lawyer in whom Afzal had expressed no faith; the fact that he went legally unrepresented from the time of his arrest till his so-called confession, the fact that the court asked him to either accept the lawyer appointed by the Court or cross examine the witness himself should surely have concerned you while considering his mercy petition.

His personal history of being a surrendered militant, of harassment and torture at the hands of STF, as well as his statement in open court that he had indeed helped Mohammad, one of the attackers on the Parliament, find a house and obtain a car, the same car used in the attack, but at the orders of his STF handlers, should have spurred a full-scale investigation into the allegations. The citizens of this country do not know if one was ordered at all.

It is also a fact that the much-hyped investigation of the Parliament attack case and its prosecution resulted in two full acquittals and conviction of another for concealing knowledge of the crime. It was almost as if there was a need to at least ensure one death sentence so that the faith of the public / society in the efficacy of the prosecution and the judiciary and the Legislature which represented the ‘State” would not be shaken. Surely this was not a case where even the government of the day was convinced of the guilt of Afzal; but treated it like a case that was far too important for all accused to be acquitted. We must remind you sir that the Supreme Court threw out the confessions of both Afzal and Shaukat which obviously indicated that the investigation had been far from fair.

As in life, Afzal Guru was denied his legal rights in his death. Sir, every convict whose mercy petition has been rejected by the President, is entitled yet to a last resort. The convict has the constitutional right to file a judicial review or a delay petition, in the High Court and the Supreme Court, to seek commutation of the death sentence. There exists veritable case law to support a condemned convict’s right to appeal on grounds that pendency of death penalty for years causes suffering and torturous anxiety. We only cite the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, which in 1988 held that “Undue long delay in execution of the sentence of death will entitle the condemned person to approach this Court under Article 32”.

Under the law, Afzal Guru may have lived still despite your rejection of the mercy petition, had he, his family and lawyers been informed of the rejection of the mercy petition. But perhaps fearing precisely this, the state whose head you are, Sir, chose to execute him in secrecy. The killing was not a fait accompli– a natural culmination of the course of law, as it is being made out to be by the government and the media. In fact, Afzal Guru was cynically, callously and calculatedly denied access to judicial remedy that was due to him. His family was not informed, not only because our state has become unrecognizably cruel—which it has, but also because it did not want Afzal Guru to exercise his legal rights and possibly avert the execution. Informing the wife that her mercy petition had been rejected through speed post is a joke. What the state has done is not simply kill a convict. It has committed a fraud on the people by invalidating an entire body of jurisprudence and a category of rights inhering in our Constitution.

And finally, the Indian state must explain why it displayed such urgency in executing Afzal before those others whose mercy petitions your office has earlier rejected.


1. Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
2. Ahmed Sohaib, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
3. Sanghamitra Misra, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
4. Adil Mehdi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
5. Ghazi Shahnawaz, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
6. Ambarien Alqadar, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
7. Farah Farooqi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
8. Tanweer Fazal, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
9. Yug Mohit Chaudhry, Advocate, Mumbai
10. Vrinda Grover, Advocate, Delhi
11. Kamini Jaiswal, Advocate, Delhi
12. Trideep Pais, Advocate, Delhi
13. Mayur Suresh, Advocate, Delhi
14. Jawahar Raja, Advocate, Delhi
15. Madhumita Dutta, Vettiver Collective, Chennai.
16. Arvind Narrain, Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore
17. Lawrence Liang, Alternative Law Forum
18. Siddharth Narrain, Alternative law forum
19. Rakesh Sharma, Filmmaker
20. Ajay Bhardwaj, Filmmaker, Delhi
21. Jesse Knutson, Academic, Delhi
22. Dr. Nandini Chandra, University of Delhi
23. Kaveri Gill, Delhi
24. Gautam Mody, Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative
25. Prof. Ali Javed, University of Delhi
26. Satnam Kaur, Saheli
27. Prof. Alok Rai, Academic, Delhi
28. Dr. M. Vijayabaskar, Faculty, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.
29. Darryl D’Monte, Mumbai
30. Shivam Vij, Journalist, Delhi
31. Amit Thorat, Delhi
32. Ankur Dutta, Academic, Delhi
33. Ritu Dewan, Delhi
34. Venugopal Maddipati
35. Ruhi Saith
36. Kaushik Bhaumik, Senior Vice President, The Film House, Osian's
37. Dr. N. Sukumar, Dept of Political Science, Delhi University
38. Dr. Anand Teltumbde, IIT Kharagpur
39. CN Subramaniam
40. Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh, Lawyer and Legal Researcher, New Delhi
41. Khaliq Parkar, JNU
42. Wilfred D’costa, Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF
43. Mary E John, Academic, Delhi
44. Aamena Ahmad
45. Askok Choudhary, NFFPFW
46. Hany Baby, Univ. of Delhi
47. Jaya Menon, Academic, Aligarh Muslim University
48. Jenny Rowena, Academic, Delhi University
49. Mayanka Dave Mukherji, LSR College, Delhi University
50. Nadim Asrar, Journalist, Delhi
51. Rangnath Singh, Journalist, Delhi
52. Dr. Shadab Bano, Academic, Academic, Aligarh Muslim University
53. Dr. Sk Ehteshamuddin Ahmed, Academic, AMU
54. Dr. Kaushikee, Academic, JMI
55. Ritu Sinha, Academic, Delhi
56. Supriya Chaudhuri
57. Prof. Tripta Wahi, University of Delhi (Retd.)
58. Vijay Singh, Forum for Democratic Struggle, Delhi University.
59. Lesley A Esteves, journalist, Delhi
60. Panini Anand, journalist, Delhi
61. Saba Naqvi, jourmalist, Delhi
62. Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi
63. Jawed Naqvi, journalist, Delhi
64. Paramita Ghosh, Journalist, Delhi
65. Ram Puniyani, All India Secular forum
66. John Dayal, Delhi
67. Shweta, SRUTI (Society for Rural Urban & Tribal Initiative)
68. Subhash Ghatade, writer and activist, Delhi.
69. Madhuresh, National Alliance for Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
70. Sukumar Muralidharan, journalist, Delhi
71. Dhruva Narayan, Managing Editor, Daanish Books
72. Ajitha GS, publishing professional, Bangalore
73. G. Arunima Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
74. K. Saradamoni, Economist, Thiruvananthapuram
75. Prof. Mohan Rao, Jawaharlal Nehru University
76. Sabeena Gadihoke, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
77. Prof. Shohini Ghosh, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
78. Sohail Akbar, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
79. Prof. MS Bhatt, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
80. Dr. Neshat Quaiser, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
81. Sabina Kidwai, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
82. Shamya Dasgupta, journalist/writer, Bangalore
83. Shikha Jhingan, filmmaker, Delhi
84. Prafulla Samantara, Co-convenor, Lok shakti Abhiyan
85. Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, Editor Milli Gazette
86. Nandini Sundar, Professor, Department of Sociology, DU
87. Ashley Tellis, DU
88. Brinda Bose, Associate Prof., Department of English, DU
89. Neeraj Malik, Indraprastha College
90. Javed Malick, Formerly Khalsa College
91. Rahul Govind, Delhi University
92. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Raks Media Collective, Delhi
93. Prof. Ranjani Mazumdar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
94. Mukul Kesavan, writer and historian
95. Arun Khote
96. Arjumand Ara, Academic, Delhi
97. Rakhi Sehgal, Trade Union activist, Delhi
98. Sreenivas VP
99. Subasri Krishnan, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
100. Jairus Banaji, Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
101. Dr. Anirudh Deshpande, Department of History, University of Delhi
102. Prof. Amit Bhaduri, economist, Delhi.
103. Prof. Anand Chakravarti, Academic, Delhi
104. Asit Das, activist, Delhi
105. Ravi Sundaram, CSDS
106. Trisha Gupta, writer and editor
107. Peggy Mohan, author, Delhi
108. Satya Sivaraman, activist and filmmaker
109. ViBGYOR Film Collective, Thrissur
110. Saheli, Delhi
111. Anivar Aravind, activist, Bangalore
112. Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA
113. Sanjib Baruah, Professor of Political Studies, Bard College, New York; Honorary Professor, Center for Policy Research, New Delhi.
114. Chitra Joshi, Department of History, I.P. College, University of Delhi
115. N. A. Jacob, Department of English, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
116. Madhavi Zutshi, Department of English, Khalsa College, University of Delhi
117. Rochelle Pinto, Academic, Delhi University
118. Jonathan Gil Harris, Professor of English, George Washington University, Washington DC
119. Madhavi Menon, Professor, Department of Literature, American University, Washington DC
120. Rohini Hensman, Writer and Activist
121. Tapan Bose, SAFHR, Delhi
122. Pradeep Narayanan, Head, Research and Consultancies at Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices
123. Ravikant, Sarai, Delhi
124. Shivsundar, Journalist, Bangalore
125. Dr. Malem Ningthouja, Campaign for Peace & Democracy Manipur
126. Antara Dev Sen, Little Magazine, Delhi
127. Mariam Shaheen, Journalist, Delhi
128. Gauri Lankesh, Bangalore
129. Ragini Saira, Academic, Amherst
130. Seema Guha- Journalist, New Delhi
131. Rajesh Sinha- Journalist- New Delhi
132. Puneet Nicholas Yadav- Journalist, New Delhi
133. Yadvendra Michael Yadav- Lawyer, Bhopal
134. Sohail Hashmi, Delhi
135. Sabiha hashmi, Art teacher, Bangalore
136. Asad Zaidi, Publisher and writer, Delhi
137. Meera Ahmed, Academic, Delhi
138. Naveen Chander, New Socialist Initiative, Delhi
139. Dr Rina Ramdev, Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University
140. Hemangini Gupta, PhD candidate, Emory University.
141. Nandini Dutta, Academic, Delhi University
142. Nalini Nayak, Academic, Delhi University
143. Dr. Nikita Sud, Academic, University of Oxford
144. Akhil Katyal, Academic, St Stephens college
145. Sumi Krishna, Academic, Bangalore
146. Soumya Dutta, Academic, Delhi University
147. Dr. Saroj Giri, Academic, Delhi University
148. Uma V Chandru, WSS Karnataka
149. Ranjana Padhi, PUDR
150. Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai
151. Rahul Rao, SOAS
152. Dr. PK Vijayan, Academic, Delhi University
153. Dr. Karen Gabriel, Academic, Delhi University
154. Biswajit Mohanty, Academic, Delhi University
155. Nandita Narain, Delhi University
156. Dunu Roy, Hazard Centre, Delhi
157. Manohar Elavarthi, Praja Rajakiya Vedike, Bangalore
158. Sameer Saran, UNHCR, Kabul
159. Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Jawaharlal Nehru University
160. Prof. Achin Vanaik, Delhi University
161. Uzair Alim, New Zealand
162. Misha K. Alim, Chennai
163. Kamayani Bala Mahabal, Lawyer, Activist
164. Anita Ghai, Fellow, Teen Murti and Delhi University
165. Kiran Saheen, Activist
166. Rukmani Datta, Activist, Bombay
167. Kaveri Rajaraman Indira, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
168. Dolly Daftary, USA
169. Badal Malick, New York
170. Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
171. Sheba George, Activist
172. Rukmini Sen, Senior Journalist
173. Pankaj Jha, Delhi University
174. Saumya Bhattacharaya, Delhi University
175. G N Saibaba, Delhi University
176. Roopa Dhawan, Delhi University
177. Tara Basumatary, Delhi University
178. Vijaya Venkataraman, Delhi University
179. Naveen Gaur, Delhi University
180. Abha Dev Habib, Delhi University
181. Prof. Janaki Nair, Academic, Jawaharlal Nehru University
182. Padmaja Shaw, Osmania University
183. Richa Minocha, Jan Abhiyan Sanstha, Himachal Pradesh
184. Mahtab Alam, writer and activist, Delhi
185. Mansi Sharma, activist, Delhi.
186. V Suresh's, (General Secretary PUCL)
187. D Nagasaila's, PUCL,
188. Kavita Srivastava, PUCL
189. Arati Chowksi, PUCL
190. Sachin N, Delhi University
191. Debjani Sengupta, Delhi University
192. DW Karuna, Chennai
193. Kumar Sundaram, activist, Delhi
194. Harjeet Singh Gill, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University
195. Raji Govind, Coimbatore
196. Anirudddhan Vasudevan, Chennai
197. Mahmood Farooqui, Writer, Delhi
198. A.Suneetha, Senior Fellow, Anveshi, Hyderabad.
199. Saumya Uma, Consultant, Law, gender and Human Rights, Mumbai
200. Anusha Rizvi, Filmmaker, Delhi
201. Rajashri Dasgupta, Journalist, Kolkata
202. Prof. Ujjwal Kumar Singh, Academic, Delhi University
203. Mukul Dube, Writer and Editor, Delhi
204. Seema Mustafa, Senior Journalist, Delhi
205. Amit Sengupta, Senior Journalist, Delhi
206. Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times
207. Zulaikha Jabeen, Activist, Raipur
208. Nilabh, Poet and Writer, Allahabad
209. Anand Swaroop Verma, Senior Journalist, Delhi
210. Himanshu Kumar, Gandhian Activist,Delhi
211. Suranya Aiyar, Lawyer, Delhi
212. Zafar Mehdi, Blogger-Activist, Delhi
213. Harish Sharma, Filmmaker, Delhi
214. Nandita Dutta, Journalist
215. Rashmi M, Artist
216. Anita Thomas, freelance writer
217. Harsh Kapoor, SACW
218. Musab Iqbal, NewzFirst, Banglore
219. Abhishek Srivastva, Journalist
220. Lateef Mohd Khan, Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, Hyderabad
221. Prof. P Koya, Editor, Thejas Malyalam Daily, Calicut
222. Rangnath Singh, Writer, Delhi
223. Shahnawaz Malik, Journalist, Delhi
224. Abu Zafar, Journalist, Delhi and many others.- TWL Bureau


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