Tag: Terrorism

Death penalty is a deterrent

In one James Bond film it is said: Once can be happenstance. Twice can be coincidence. Thrice or more enemy is at work. On NDTV 24×7’s Left Right and Centre on three days Nidhi Razdan asked the question: Is death penalty a deterrent? She implied it was not. My answer is “Yes”.

First time Nidhi Razdan asked the question with regard to remarks by Justice Markandeya Katju about policemen who kill in fake encounters. He had said “Such policemen should be hanged. It is nothing but cold-blooded brutal murder, and yes, police personnel responsible should be hanged.” The discussion turned around fake encounters. Y. P. Singh said policemen do a noble job in an unethical way. It is a political call to control crime. The government of the day asks police to finish criminals. When there were gang wars in Bombay encounters took place and criminals disappeared.

There was no terrorist activity at the time. Later encounter specialists fell from grace. Encounters stopped. There were serial train blasts and 26/11. Last month there were three bomb blasts.

Second time was when it became known that Home Ministry has asked the President to reject Afzal Guru’s mercy petition. One panelist said he was opposed to death penalty in general. TSR Subramaniam said death penalty is given in rarest of rare cases and this is a rarest of rarest of rare case. Those who say Kashmir will go up in flames if Afzal Guru is hanged ignore the fact that Maqbool Butt’s hanging for the murder of Deputy High Commissioner Mhatre in Birmingham scared the living daylights out of JKLF.

Third time was on 11/8/2011. The President had rejected mercy petitions of three LTTE members. Renuka Chowdhury defended the decision. One panelist spoke of European Union and Gandhian philosophy. He forgot Gandhi’s killers were hanged. Ashok Desai and Nirmala Seetharaman were in favour of death penalty.

Opponents of death penalty engage in misinformation and disinformation.

First disinformation is that life sentence is worse than death penalty. It is not. Criminals don’t want to die and are happy to live in jail as long as they can. Some faint on the day of their hanging.

European Union (EU) countries have abolished death penalty. That is not a reason for India to abolish death penalty. We don’t have to follow EU countries. Some of them are bankrupt. Some are on the verge of bankruptcy. See the mess in England. During riots even rich people go to rob. In Norway some want death penalty for the terrorist who killed 76 people. China, USA, Japan and many other countries have death penalty. India is equal to all EU countries put together. EU is not paradise on earth.

Second disinformation is that murders have gone down in countries which abolished death penalty. Those who say that do not give any proof or lie about statistics.

Third disinformation is that death penalty does not serve any purpose of justice i.e., reformative, retributive and deterrent. Death penalty serves retributive and deterrent purposes.

There is misinformation that 26/11 terrorists were on a suicide mission. They were told to take some hostages. The government will negotiate and allow them to return. That did not happen. When a terrorist serves a life sentence there is the danger of abduction or hijacking for the release of the terrorist and the released terrorist killing many more. While nothing can be done about suicide bombers if those who send them are hanged that will reduce terrorists. Suicide bombers are given money and are told that their families will be taken care of once they die.

Some say a civilized country should not have death penalty. What is civilized about murder? Murder is a crime, pure and simple.

When death penalty was the norm there were not many encounter deaths and terrorist activities. After the Supreme Court strayed into the territory of executive and restricted death penalty to rarest of rare cases the situation changed.

In Pakistan there has not been death penalty for a long time and terrorism has increased. In Mexico murders multiplied after abolition of death penalty.

I have a suspicion that a lobbyist is behind the question.

Terrorists delisted

India’s Home Ministry has delisted 142 terrorists from the list. The list had names of 169 Sikhs. Somebody filed a petition in the Delhi High Court and pleaded that the list should be reviewed as it has led to unnecessary harassment of those individuals at airports and embassies across the world as their passports were not renewed. The Delhi High Court ordered the Home Ministry to take a decision. The Home Ministry consulted Punjab government and security agencies and deleted 25 names in August 2010 and 117 names in April 2011.

On what basis the Home Ministry decide to delete the names? Why did it not appeal to the Supreme Court against Delhi High Court’s order? Were the people innocent? If so, why were their names in the list? In that case the country needs to know that answer and to who was responsible for the mistake. If not, why were they delisted? Why were no efforts made to extradite them? Why nobody from Home Ministry told the Delhi High Court that what the people face was not unnecessary harassment but just action?

The 142 persons will be free to come to India and preach secession. They can do so in Delhi. The government is incapable of taking action against secessionists as was evident in the case of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Arundhati Roy. The police registered a case after somebody filed a complaint.

What will happen to India’s Most Wanted in Pakistan? Will someone file a petition in some High Court and the Home Ministry delist them? If Indian government is not serious about fight against terrorism it should say so publicly instead of paying lip service to fight against terrorism and sending lists to Pakistan.

Commando operation

Many Indians want India to send commandos to Pakistan to kill India’s Most Wanted in Pakistan. Operation Geronimo by USA is the inspiration. When asked by journalists army chief and air force chief have said that India is capable to commando operations.

The idea is fine but needs to be tested. India is not USA. India does not have the technology that USA has. In India’s case there is no room for error. Every commando operation is not a success. USA’s attempt to rescue hostages in Iran in 1979 was a disaster. Operation Geronimo was a success in that it achieved its aim of catching Osama Bin Laden dead or alive but one helicopter could not fly back and had to be destroyed. USA has inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can hit any country in the world. Pakistan does not have ICBMs. India and Pakistan do not need ICBMs to hit each other. India does not have stealth helicopters that can evade radar detection.

India can start by rescuing sailors held hostage by Somali pirates. That will test India’s capability to carry out commando operations and the probability of success. India can also carry out commando operations when various groups engage in abductions and hijackings in India.

There are various suggestions to deal with India’s Most Wanted in Pakistan. Announcing prizes to those who kill them or hiring Pakistanis to kill them are two of them.

Operation Geronimo was about one person. India’s wanted are 26. They are in different parts of Pakistan. Some lead secret lives. Others appear in public. A single operation to catch the 26 is difficult. It will need many commandos and helicopters and if something goes wrong in one place other places will be alerted. Separate operations by air, land or sea will mean each subsequent operation will be more difficult than previous one and there is danger of war after the first operation.

Americans do not give up. They get things done. They do it through UN. When UN does not oblige they do it through NATO. When NATO does not oblige they do it themselves with whoever is on their side. They persevere. Indian leaders suspend talks with Pakistan for some time. Then they give up saying there is no alternative to talks. Indian leaders do not get things done or persevere.

Some say a stable Pakistan is in India’s interest and India should not do anything that destabilizes Pakistan. A stable Pakistan that abets and shelters terrorists against India is not in India’s interest. After cricket diplomacy things were looking bright but Operation Geronimo has changed the mood in the country.