Post execution of Ajmal Kasab, the clamour for hanging Afzal Guroo is growing with each passing day. But there remain yawning gaps in his trial & conviction which need to be properly addressed before taking any precipitate action. These gaps or unanswered questions are:
1. The courts as well as security forces acknowledge that Afzal was a surrendered militant who was in regular contact with the security forces, particularly the STF of Jammu and Kashmir police. How do the security forces explain the fact that a person under their surveillance was able to conspire in a major militant operation? Further is it plausible that a dreaded organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba or Jaish-e-Mohammad allegedly involved in the attack will rely on a person who had been in and out of STF camps/ torture chambers and was under constant police surveillance, as the principal link for a major operation?
2. On December 19 2001, six days after the parliament attack, police commissioner SM Shangari identified one of the attackers who was killed as Mohammad Yasin Fateh Mohammed (alias Abu Hamza) of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, who had been arrested in Mumbai in November 2000 and immediately handed over to the Jammu and Kashmir police. He gave detailed descriptions to support his statement. If police commissioner Shangari was right, how did Yasin, a man in the custody of the Jammu and Kashmir police, end up participating in the parliament attack? If he was wrong, where is Yasin now?
3. The entire attack was recorded live on CCTV. Two MPs, Kapil Sibal and Najma Heptullah, demanded in parliament that the CCTV recording be shown to the members. They said that there was confusion about the details of the event. The then chief whip of the Congress party, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, said, "I counted six men getting out of the car. But only five were killed. The closed circuit TV camera recording clearly showed the six men." If Dasmunshi was right, why did the police say that there were only five people in the car? Who was the sixth person? Where is he now? Why was the CCTV recording not produced by the prosecution as evidence in the trial? Why was it not released for public viewing?
4. In a criminal investigation, it is vital for the police to show how the evidence gathered at the scene of the attack led them to the accused. The police have not managed to show how they connected Geelani to the attack. And how did the police reach Afzal? The Special Cell says Geelani led them to Afzal. But the message to look out for Afzal was actually flashed to the Srinagar police before Geelani was arrested. So how did the Special Cell connect Afzal to the December 13 attack?
5.For months before the attack on parliament, both the government and the police had been saying that parliament could be attacked. On December 12 2001, the then prime minister, AB Vajpayee, warned of an imminent attack. On December 13 it happened. Given that there was an "improved security drill", how did a car bomb packed with explosives enter the parliament complex?
6.Within days of the attack, the Special Cell of the Delhi police said it was a meticulously planned joint operation of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba. They said the attack was led by a man called "Mohammad" who was also involved in the hijacking of flight IC-814 in 1998. This was later refuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation. None of this was ever proved in court. What evidence did the Special Cell have for its claim?
7.A few days after December 13, the government declared that it had "incontrovertible evidence" of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack, and announced a massive mobilization of almost half a million soldiers to the Indo-Pakistan border. The subcontinent was pushed to the brink of nuclear war. Apart from Afzal’s "confession", extracted under torture (and later set aside by the supreme court), what was the "incontrovertible evidence"?
8. In his statement before the court, Afzal says that one Mr. Tariq working with STF introduced him to a person known as "Mohammed" and instructed to take him to Delhi. Tariq was named in the police charge sheet. Who is Tariq and where is he now?
9.In documents submitted to the court, Afzal describes how, in the months before the attack on parliament, he was tortured in the camps of the STF – with electrodes on his genitals and chillies and petrol in his anus. He talks of how he was a constant victim of extortion. He mentions the name of Deputy Superintendent of Police Devinder Singh, who said he needed him to do a "small job" for him in Delhi. Singh has subsequently admitted on record(in an interview to a reputed journalist) to having tortured Afzal in exactly the ways Afzal has described. Afzal has also said that from the time he was arrested up to the time he was charged (a few months), his younger brother Hilal was held in illegal confinement in a police camp in Kashmir as ransom. The pertinent question is-What was that small job Afzal was supposed to do in Delhi.
10.Why is it that we still do not know who the five "terrorists" killed in the parliament attack are?
In absence of proper explanation to these unanswered questions, the attack on Parliament is a big mystery and unless the real attackers are exposed through an enquiry by an impartial & reputed agency, hanging Afzal Guroo would be a colossal blunder and insufficient to satisfy the collective conscience of Indians.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at firstname.lastname@example.org)