SAR Geelani, a former lecturer of the Delhi University was arrested at dawn on Tuesday over sedition charges, in connection with the Press Club of India event in which he allegedly raised anti-India slogans. His arrest follows the arrest of JNU Student Union President Khanaiya Kumar, who was arrested on charges of sedition for protesting against the hanging of Afzal Guru.
“Geelani was arrested around 3am at the Parliament Street police station under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly),” said Jatin Narwal, Deputy Commissioner of Police, New Delhi to the Times of India. An FIR was filed against Geelani and the other three unnamed speakers on February 12.
According to media reports, Geelani was invited to speak at a Press Club event, along with three others. While on stage, the group allegedly shouted slogans glorifying and praising Afzal Guru, a convict of the 2001 Parliament attack.
Geelani was earlier suspected to have played a key role in the Parliament attack and was arrested in connection with the same. But the Delhi Court closed the case citing lack of evidence.
The students affiliated to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) organised protest outside the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University to vent their disappointment over a programme terming the execution of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru as judicial killing.
The protest witnessed violent clashes between two students groups last night, following which the police personnel had to be deployed on duty to maintain the law and order situation in the campus. The main aim is to kick out the anti- national groups who support Afzal. Their activities are required to be monitored by Police Commissioner Rajesh Bahl.
While the organisers originally got the permission to hold this event, it was withdrawn after the ABVP complained to the administration. Terming the activity as ‘anti- national’, the ABVP had called for a protest outside the campus. They also demanded the resignation of the ten students who were behind the event. The students were earlier members of the Democratic Students’ Union.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, was puzzled by the secrecy involved in the execution of Afzal Guru. Speaking to CNN-IBN, he said that the government should have allowed Afzal Guru’s family to visit him before his execution rather than sending the information via speed post.
If Tabassum Guru had been informed of Afzal Guru’s fate, she would have done something. Perhaps rush to her husband’s side in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, bring him his favourite meal for the last time or simply assure him that Ghalib, who was two-years-old when Guru was arrested, was doing good. The world would never know because Tabassum also did not when Guru was hanged.
Afzal Guru, convicted for the attacks on the Indian Parliament in 2001 did not, before his execution owe or deny the charges levied against him. Now sadly, there is hardly any meaning in pursuing the matter further. The man stays interred in the backyard of a jail which he called home for the past 12 years.
The hanging of Afzal Guru comes in the wake of the recent spurt of strict action the government is taking against terror outfits. Guru, who aided in the attacks, was not given a fair trial as the courts were heavily biased against the man from the beginning. With no proper legal representation, the case for Guru stood on weak knees.
With the death games that the government has recently trended, there comes to question whether such acts were in the name of justice or appeasing a political ideology under the garb. Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist from the 26/11 carnage was hanged merely around two months back.
Striking resemblances of disregard to human rights dot Kasab and Guru’s hanging. Both the convicts did not accept or deny their roles; their families were not properly informed about the execution, hence not allowing them to spend precious last minutes with the prisoners. Furthermore, even on requisition, on the basis of humanity, Kasab and Guru’s bodies were buried in the jails that they were executed. Denying their families closure.
The secrecy that surrounded Guru’s execution was a gross comment on the inability of the government to meander on humanitarian grounds. A speed post containing perhaps the most tragic news was sent to Guru’s family a day prior to the execution. It need not be said further that this was done on purpose as they did not receive the letter.
The family woke up to rumours of Guru’s hanging via social media and the television. Their emotional state is unfathomable. Tabassum and Ghalib, who had met Guru just over a month ago, hung on hopes of clemency which President Pranab Mukherjee rejected on the third this month. Guru’s execution was stalled after his wife had filed a mercy petition in 2006.
The government now refuses to hand over Guru’s body to his grieving family stating that no formal letter of requisition was filed. This comes with the backdrop of the members of his family still reeling with the sudden loss which they were not informed about.
Guru leaves this world leaving a storm of doubt that service to humanity– a strong pillar of Indian law is crumbling at its base.