Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A short piece on Killing

Yesterday's HT published an Open letter to our President from Jagmohan Singh (nephew of Bhagat Singh) & Anand Patwardhan (a documentary filmmaker) on why capital punishment is not solution and why Afzal should be granted a repreive. I am reproducing their points below:
  • A civil society should not descend to the status of murderers by preferring revenge over far better forms of justice.
  • All investigations, however meticuous, are subject to human error. Such errors become irreversible in case the death penalty is imposed. All over the world, there have been cases of executed people being proved innocent after their death.
  • In a country like ours, where there is a huge gap between, where there is a huge gap between the priveleged and the dispossessed, the death penalty becomes the final method for implementing class injustice. A cursory glance at the list of all those executed in our country will reveal that almost all of them were poor. The rich are rarely found guilty and even if they are, they are rarely executed.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty is a deterrent to violent and heinous crime. Countries like Britain that did away with the death penalty did not see a rise in such crimes while countries like the US, which continue to impose the penalty, show no decline.

I would like to add another point to these absolutely strong arguments against capital punishment.

  • In almost all cases of death penalty, the time elapsed between the sentence and its execution extends upto weeks, months or sometimes years. I can't imagine, what happens to the system of the individual who has nothing but his/her execution to look forward to. And if an eye for an eye is the logic behind the sentence, then in all such cases their victims do not have a clue that they will be dying (even in the case of a cold-blooded murder). No murderer pre-informs the victim that, 'On the dawn of 30th October, 2006 I shall be ending your life'.

Afzal could be the key guy behind the Parliament attack, but can his death ensure anything which will be of use to the society?


Karen said...

hey hey, good stuff this.

michael bhagat said...

If a death p-penalty is intended to serve as a deterrent, it arguably contradicts its very purpose, (follows from Strangelove: Why didn’t you tell the world?) simply because nobody is ever scared of death. No one knows what its like, and we’ve romanticized about it because there is no one who can warn us of the horrors and the travails of dying. It can never be known to humans and so it will always remain in the realm of the unknown; and the unidentified is not as scary, it is enigmatic and mysterious, the consequences rely on the frame of mind. . Possibly, making the perpetrator undergo severe physical anguish for varying periods of time depending upon the severity of the crime, or crudely put, devising innovative ways of torture, could work as effective deterrents to crime, but certainly not the death penalty, which would probably be more acceptable than a 10 year confinement.

michael bhagat said...

this name was something which i copied from another open window while i was creating a blog myself some time back, its defunct now, though

Anand Nair said...


Good points. I have analysed the issue of death penalty from another perspective -- that of Game Theory.

You may have a look at this at "Death Penalty -- Is this a SMART strategy?"


Anand Nair

meraj said...


if you are referring to tangled-up....its a reflection of my love for dylan...taken from his song 'tangled up in blues'
fellini was deeply into bergman...
for further reading on the subject of capital punishment, you can read the collection of essays called 'resistence, rebellion and death' by camus.


Everyone should watch The Green Mile....dont pay heed to Stephen King's crap (at times) but I think as far as the capital punishment theory is is a definite watch if ya wanna learn more abt cap. pun. !!!

michael bhagat said...

I figure you havn’t recognized me with that absurd pseudonym, otherwise you wouldn’t suggest resistance rebellion and death, but this medium has made me nostalgic for the endless, involved, discussions on remakes, literature, cinema, with often contrasting opinions, something which struck me reading that anonymous comment on monte cristo.

anyway, no personal conversations, renders this medium ineffective

meraj said...

absolutely true mr bhagat.

Anonymous said...

S,you might know who this is...listen , the argument about terror victims not geting advance shivers is bizarre to say the least !u couldn't be about terrorists making a pact on giving advance warning to people in exchange for not getting hanged..that ok ? or would , conversely , instant excecution at the time of conviction be ok ? Capital punishment sucks , nothing could be more depressing than killing the hours on death row..i know..i agree...but heck , life's also about knowing the limits to compassion , isn't it ? in my little black book , people who kill people do not deserve either compassion or life..the question to me is the case itself: have they got the right guy ? if they have , then hang the motherfucker, i say.....several times