Happymon Jacob teaches at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He can be contacted at
Killing Afzal Guru was a political act, one that clearly fails the scrutiny of modern jurisprudence. As an Indian, empathiser of the Kashmiri cause for self-respect and azadi and a staunch believer in the fundamental rights of fellow humans and a teacher whose job it is to teach my students that human rights should supersede petty, parochial political interests, I apologise to the family of Afzal Guru who has been put to death by the medieval mindset of the Indian state. I am ashamed and feel a deep sense of guilt for the manner in which the Indian state has gone about hanging Afzal Guru, in flagrant violation of all norms of natural justice and due process laid down in law.
I am not a Kashmiri, as my readers have known for long, nor do I live in Kashmir. But my relationship with Kashmir is based on my conviction that Kashmir is symbolic of everything that is wrong with the Indian state. In other words, to see what is wrong with the idea of India, one only needs to look at the predicament of Kashmir and Kashmiris. Kashmiris have been accused of being terrorists, supporters of an ‘enemy state’, killed and buried in ‘unmarked graves’, and denied the right to freely move around in the rest of the country, among many other things. And successive governments of India have had a role to play in creating this predicament for the people of Kashmir.