Many people seem to be appalled at Afzal Guru hanging and that his family was not informed, body not returned. Many are mightily embarrassed of the Indian state and have gone into a full blown self flagellation routine both in media and private.
Truth is, many things about Indian state suck but they suck equally for people of all shades and gods, especially if you do not belong to the moneyed or political dynasties.
If not informing his family reeks of utter disregard and disdain for human life and dignity, you don’t have to wait for a one off terrorist hanging to conclude that. Look around and you will find ample evidence of the low value accorded at human life and dignity in India. Kids remain malnutritioned while money gets siphoned off, farmers starve and hang themselves while the grain rots outside godowns, women get raped, killed and then degraded most reprehensibly. People die in train accidents, bridge collapses, stampedes – people of all castes, religions and regions. We do have little regard for dignity of life and its not reserved only for Kashmiri Muslims.
Also, his death penalty passed through successive rounds of judicial scrutiny. The same justice system acquitted SAR Geelani on a technicality. Therefore, allegations that this judgement was not judicially sound based on cherry picking of the judge’s comments doesn’t cut ice.
And then, this guy planned to attack the parliament. His men killed soldiers who came from even poorer families. He was motivated by an ideology based on hate of other religions and goes against our professed values of equal respect to all religions. If you come to kill me with full intention, preparation and training, how am I supposed to react?
The idea that violent retribution is undemocratic or somehow less civilized is also not defensible. First, you do need to be able protect the civilization and democracy and if an armed attack on parliament is not a serious enough threat, well, should we wait for Hafiz Saeed to come riding his camel to Delhi? Second, for violent assaults, the defense too has to be violent. Else we could have disbanded the army and spent all the money on schools and peace monuments.
We are decent people and we feel bad when someone has to be killed especially by the state. However, the guy killed was not an angel and there are others too training, preparing and waiting for their chance to launch deadlier attacks. They need to know we can be violent if attacked violently.
It was insensitive to not inform his family members but then given the deeply vested interests in flaming victim-hood and separatism, it was never really an option.
It was painful but necessary. We can breath easy.