After needless delay and procrastination, Parliament terror attack mastermind Afzal Guru was finally hanged on Saturday morning. While those who maintain that there was no justification to wait for such a long time before carrying out the sentence after the Supreme Court upheld it in 2005 may have a valid point, the entire country including various political parties must unite to endorse the execution with one voice. That there were procedural delays in carrying out the sentence must not detract us from the fact that Afzal Guru was given a fair trial. Those shedding crocodile tears in the name of human rights conveniently forget the rights of innocent citizens the terrorists have killed and injured.
Having finally demonstrated its firmness in handling threats to India and its national institutions from terrorist outfits, the government must now move on to carry the war against terrorism forward. The government’s first task is to contain the political fallout of the execution in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country and thwart the designs of separatists and other forces inimical to India with tact and firmness. For the political class as a whole, the emergence of a motivated fifth column is a challenge and parties must sink their differences to speak with one voice on the need to tackle terrorism with determination.
If it wants to send out a strong message, the government must now take up the cases of other terror convicts waiting in the death row expeditiously and without displaying any fear or favour. It must show by its words and deeds that there will be zero tolerance to terrorist activities. The administration of criminal justice to deal with terror-related crimes should be put on fast track and culprits should be executed as per law without delay by setting a time limit for disposal of clemency petitions. Equally important, both the ruling party and the opposition should immediately stop looking at the issue of terrorism through the prism of religion. There can be no compromise on terror of any colour.