Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar – Death or Mercy?
Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar was convicted of involvement in a bombing outside a Youth Congress in New Delhi in 1993, killing 9 people and leaving 36 injured. He was the only one of four potential suspects who was held accountable and on attempting to escape to Canada, was caught with a fake passport at Frankfurt airport. Germany did not grant him asylum due to fake documents and deported him back to India, where he has been waiting for the death penalty for the past 18 years. In 1997 Frankfurt Law Court declared his deportation as ‘illegal’ on the grounds that by German law, no asylum seeker shall be deported if they are to face political persecution on their return.
A harrowing discourse
We are dealing with three main issues here: First of all, it is argued that the Indian government does not have sufficient evidence to support their claim- that Bhullar was involved in the car blast in 1993. And why was nothing done about the other three potential terrorist suspects involved? Perhaps Bhullar was given full blame because of religious prejudice? Secondly, an Indian law active between the years of 1985-1995 that allows Bhullar’s imprisonment as a terrorist should surely now be seen as outdated and inactive?( TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Prevention Act), The Indian government has also been accused of using this act to persecute certain ‘active’ members of society, including the Tamils, Kashmiris and Punjabis. Thirdly, is Germany’s 1997 declaration of their error when deporting Bhullar too little too late?
Upon further research, it is difficult to find any concrete evidence indicating Bhullar as the prime suspect in the 1993 bombing. Indian press in general is vague and international press does not seem to be able to print the details needed to form a claim against the government’s persecution of Bhullar. It may well be that Bhullar is a terrorist and killed 9 people outside a Youth Congress, but what if the Indian Government manipulated information and misused the facts to find him guilty of a crime he didn’t commit because of his religious views? In consideration of the various problems in areas such as Kashmir, Tamil and Punjab and the rare success of New Delhi government to tame the problems, many Indians believe the TADA was used to quiet potential threats to their authority.
TADA -- Conspiracy or Tactic?
Indians, who oppose Bhullar’s execution, call this kind of persecution ‘state brutality’. The government is accused of using the outdated TADA to justify detaining prisoners and therefore maintaining a form of power. For the minorities like the Sikhs, it is seen as one way of minimizing unrest.
“This is a test case of the TADA laws, and this is why the Tamils, Kashmiris and Punjabis [all persecuted under the law] stand together. They know that if the government hangs Professor Bhullar this will pave the way for other prisoners committed under TADA to be sent to the gallows.”
In the 1980’s a Sikh movement embarked on a terror trail, killing many civil servants, elected officials and Hindu and Sikh civilians. This was followed by the killing of Indirah Ghandi in 1984 and a large scale massacre in New Delhi in 1984. TADA was enforced to find justice in this pool of terrorism- but since then security forces have been known to use the law to enforce brutal methods to stem insurgency, including arbitrary imprisonment, torture and prolonged detention. Although it was abolished in the mid 90’s, the government continued using these violent methods.
Germany -- coward’ess’ or heroine?
It seems strange that A country advocating abolition of the death penalty would make such an error of the law when enforcing that Bhullar be returned to India, when it was obvious that Bhullar would face the death penalty if deported. He was accused of a terrorist bombing; which in India carries a higher penalty than a lifelong jail sentence. Was this negligence? According to the German Law Court in 1997 it certainly was. However, what if he really is a terrorist? Did Germany actually do right or are we dealing with a massive conspiracy?
In summary , India- a country well known to have a diverse ethnic make-up is still persecuting its minorities? And still enforces the death penalty even if it is based on an outdated law. Insufficient evidence and unlawful imprisonments were rife under the TADA, but are still held as active even though the law is now inactive.
Germany- the coward or heroine?
India- the outdated or the enforcer?
Bhullar- the terrorist or the persecuted?