The hanging of Afzal Guru in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail may have caused India a law and order problem after it sparked protests and rioting, but it also caused question marks to be raised over its justice system. This question should have been raised worldwide, because the world community has bought into the Indian propaganda about being the world’s largest democracy, where the justice system ensures a fair trial and punishment for only the guilty. His hanging was the result of an official bloodlust, for which the attack demanded not justice, but vengeance, and that too, even if it be only on a fruit merchant caught in the crosshairs of the investigating agencies. The hanging is an indictment of the entire Indian justice system, going all the way to President Pranab Mukherjee who rejected the final mercy petition. However, it particularly reflects the failure of investigating agencies to identify the culprits and gather the evidence against them that would satisfy a trial court.

That Guru was a Kashmiri as well as a Muslim probably went against him and he received a trial which was described as manifestly unfair, leading to his execution 12 years after he is supposed to have committed the crime of abetting the attackers, who were all killed during the attack. The direction of Indian bloodlust can be gauged from his execution only being the second in a decade, the first being that of Ajmal Kasab, who was hanged in November for the 2008 Mumbai massacres. India, it seems, wants only to execute Muslims accused of crimes which it has blamed on Pakistan. The execution of Afzal Guru has already caused disturbances all over India, but especially in his native Kashmir, where a virtual curfew was clamped down in the capital of Srinagar. It is not encouraging of reliance on the Indian justice system that though someone has been punished for the Parliament attacks, no one has been punished for either the Gujarat riots or the Samjhota Express blast, even though they are both older offences than the attacks on either Parliament or Mumbai. Would this be because the victims are mostly Muslim, or because the perpetrators include RSS activists, as recently disclosed by Internal Affairs Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who was integral to both Guru’s trial and his execution?

Pakistanis need to ask why, if India is so prompt at executions after false accusations, what is keeping Pakistan from executing Sarabjit Singh, who was proven to be guilty, convicted and sentenced to death in 1991, for bombings the year before in Lahore and Multan in which several people were killed. India is encouraged only to get him released by the decades he has been on death row. If India can execute people for crimes they were improperly tried for, Pakistan should not hesitate to execute criminals, even if they belong to India. This does not just apply to the present government, even if it is busy granting India MFN status, but to all previous governments which have sat on Sarabjit’s case.