Archive for the ‘Nation’ Category

Death Penalty Abolished; Serious offenders will now be forced to become farmers

January 10, 2007

New Delhi, January 11: In a move that can have widespread consequence, the union cabinet today abolished the death penalty in India for all crimes. All those who are in the death row at present have also been granted clemency. The courts of India awards capital punishment in the rarest of the rare cases, if found guilty. In another significant amendment to the criminal procedure code (CrPC), the most serious offenders will be asked to become farmers in Vidharbha. This sentence will be applied only in the rarest of rare cases, as prescribed by the supreme court. The convicts will be encouraged to grow Bt cotton.

The government move comes in the wake of recent controversy regarding the decision to hang Md. Afzal Guru. While the people of Kashmir led long protests against the sentence claiming the lack of fair trial, opposition BJP wanted Md. Afzal to be hung as early as possible. The decision follows long pending demands by the civil rights activists. There is also a growing consensus in the international community against its continuance. India is the 89th country in the world to have abolished capital punishment for all crimes. There are at present 22 individuals on death row languishing in various jails in India.

There was mixed reactions to the latest government initiative. PUCL spokesperson said that forcing the convicts to become farmers is equally bad, if not worse than hanging them. Farming (esp. cotton farming) is considered as one of the most hazardous job in the country with nearly 500 farmers being forced to end their lives in last one year in Vidharbha alone. Families of some of the convicted men also preferred their kin to be hung rather than asking them to be farmers.

The opposition BJP welcomed the move, and had termed it a landmark decision. Crediting themselves for the dismal state of agriculture in the country, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj reminded that it was during the NDA government that seed giants Monsanto started their India operations and banking reforms were introduced. The large scale use of Bt cotton and lack of cheap credit was instrumental in the deaths of most of the farmers. Present agriculture minister Sharad Pawar was also expressed his pleasure. He said the government should go one step further, and make the criminals grow genetically modified food, and consume their own produce as well.

There was no comments from congress and the left parties.