By Delhi Tamil Students Union
We strongly condemn President Pratiba Patil's rejection of the mercy petition of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar. Prof. Bhullar was sentenced to death by a trial court in Delhi on 25th August 2001 under the infamous draconian Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) act, which has been consistently used as a tool of the Indian state and its ruling parties to harass activists who are working for the people, oppressed sections and minorities. Even after the act has been scrapped, verdicts passed under its undemocratic aegis are still being upheld.
The very process of the arrest, detention and conviction of Prof. Bhullar is murky. An assassination attempt on the SSP of Chandigarh, one Sumedh Saini on August 1991, was alleged by the police to have been committed by Bhullar and his friends. Following this, Bhullar's father and his maternal uncle were arrested without following legal procedures, tortured and killed. In a similar manner, Balwant Singh Multani, a friend of Bhullar, was also killed in police custody. The police were gunning for the suspect Bhullar and were trying to pin down further charges on him. He was consequently blamed for another incident which happened in Delhi, an attempt on the life of a Youth Congress leader on September 1993. All of this needs to be seen in the light of the witch hunting of Sikh activists that happened in the period of the brutal police repression that sought to crush the Khalistan movement and voices of democracy in Punjab in the 80's and 90's. Bhullar was one of the many innocent casualties of state brutality.
Considering that many Sikh people had been tortured and executed in Punjab by the police through extra-judicial killings, Bhullar sought to go to Canada, realising his precarious situation and the threat to his life. He was detained in Germany while travelling under a fictitious name and was deported to India in January 1995. After a prolonged trial for 6 years, he was given death sentence on August 2001. We should note here that a person deported from an European country cannot be sentenced to death.
Also, Prof. Bhullar is the sole person convicted for conspiracy. The law requires at least two persons to enter into a conspiracy. When all other accused persons have been acquitted, how could have Bhullar created a conspiracy on his own? This case is further unique that the presiding judge in the Supreme Court, Justice M. B. Shah acquitted Bhullar completely, while the other two awarded death penalty on the basis of a confessional statement made before a police officer while in police custody and which too he had retracted in court.
Unfortunately, the Congress government seems to be oblivious to this fact and seems to work with a revenge-mentality instead of the idea of justice. We can note parallels in the Perarivaalan death penalty case --a Tamil youth who has been unjustly detained for almost 20 years on hollow charges of involvement in Rajiv Gandhi's assasination.
Prof. Bhullar's confession was made in police custody, as was allowed by the undemocratic TADA. He was not a given a fair trial. He has spent around 16 years in jail and has been subject to numerous tortures during his imprisonment. 10 years of this sentence was spent in solitary confinement. He suffers from many physical and psychological ailments. He has already spent a life sentence and the best years of his life have been behind bars.
We demand, in the name of justice and humanity, that Bhullar be immediately released. Else, the Indian judiciary shall have no better image than a kangaroo court.