Sunday, February 10, 2013

Our Selective Outrage

There was so much outrage last week when a certain made-for-entertainment Tamil movie by a certain actor was in danger of being snuffed out (or at least shortened).  A man's life was snuffed out this week, even though the facts leading up to that decision were, at best only circumstantial, and, at worst prejudicial, troubling and not untainted for judicial purposes. Enough questions were raised to make even those of us not trained in law feel uncomfortable about verdicts carrying terminal consequences.  Yet, there is utter silence from us everyday people, from us convenient cogs in the wheel, who have the luxury and power to withhold outrage.

As a common person, I am aware of feeling intimidated when the State is the entity about whom I ask uncomfortable, even scary, questions. I am afraid of exposing any ignorance from my side about details and facts that make a conversation appear intelligent; of losing face if at all I mistakenly take the wrong stance.  But when enough doubt is raised by those who have done their research, risk their safety and write to raise our consciousness (or prick our conscience, as the case may be), it seems wrong to not pause, take time from our relatively uncomplicated, untroubled, apolitical-on-the-surface lives, and wonder why a man -- a father, a husband -- was hanged in relative secrecy by the world's largest democracy.  It seems wrong to uncritically accept the words, '... and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender'.

This page is my attempt to keep a small lamp burning in my corner in place of the life taken from Mohammed Afzal Guru, "a man who was hanged who was not guilty beyond reasonable doubt".

Unanswered questions are the remains of the day by Anjali Mody
A perfect day for democracy by Arundhati Roy.
Four statements on the execution of Afzal Guru. Compilation at
And His Life Should Become Extinct by Arundhati Roy.
A Collaborator in Kashmir by Amitava Kumar.
Afzal Guru is dead, whose conscience is satisfied? by Jay N. Jayaram.
In Tihar, officials feel 'tinge of sorrow' by Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
Unlocking the secrets of a secret execution by Nitya Ramakrishnan
The day India sullied itself again by Rajiv Kumar.
Citizens statement on the execution of Afzal Guru on India Resists.
Secret hanging a major setback: Human Rights Watch on the execution of Afzal Guru on
Afzal Guru's story in his own words at
We haven't even heard Afzal's story by Nandita Haksar at

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