Abolish the capital punishment: activists (Report from The Hindu)

The following is a news report that appeared in The Hindu (2nd October, 2011) on the meeting organized by the New Socialist Alternative (CWI – India) on the issue of Death Penalty.


A group of citizens, civil society activists and students got together at the SCM House here on Saturday to deliberate on a topic that is not only pertinent but also highly controversial: the death penalty.

Raising this debate in the context of the death sentence that has been awarded to the three convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case — Perarivalan, Santhan and Murugan — members of the New Socialist Alternative (NSA) and Tamil Solidarity held a seminar, followed by a protest in front of Town Hall

Emotive issue

Talking about the complexity of the debate, Jagadish, a member of the NSA, spoke about how people tend to react angrily, and irrationally, to this subject. “Even when we went to print posters, people were angry and asked us why we wanted to oppose the death penalty,” he said.

‘Progressive step’

Nevertheless, he asserted that doing away with the death penalty was the right and progressive thing to do as a country. Framing the debate in the wake of the recent Troy Davis execution in Georgia, U.S., which received international attention, he said that this was the right time for civil society in India to take up this cause, generate honest debate on the topic and move towards creating an ecosystem where an alternative way of looking at justice can be propounded.

“The death sentence is inhumane,” he maintained.

Thirumurugan Gandhi, a member of the May 17 Movement, an organisation that has been fighting the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka, pointed out that civil society, intelligentsia and rights workers were largely muted on this case. “While we have supported the campaign against the hanging of Afzal Guru, who also has not been given a proper trial, there has been little support for our movement. Why is this?” he asked.

‘No merit’

He pointed out that in this case, the evidence against all three has been weak and not enough to merit death penalty. “When our investigation is weak, how can we be sure enough to go ahead with the death sentence?” asked another member of the NSA.

Panellists and audience members spoke out against capital punishment, calling it “inhumane and regressive”.

‘Death sentence is inhumane and regressive’

Staff Reporter (The Hindu)