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October 10, 2006 09:35 IST

Like dozens of organisations in India and elsewhere, Vancouver-based South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy has also started circulating an online clemency petition for Mohammed Afzal to its members and supporters asking them to sign it, as many as possible, and send it to the President of India.

Afzal has been sentenced to death by the highest Indian court for being part of the group that launched an armed assault on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001.

Whether or not he will be hanged now depends upon an intervention by the President of the country, who has been presented a mercy plea, says SANSAD president Dr Hari Sharma, professor emeritus at Simon Frazer University in Vancouver. 

On behalf of  their organisation, he has circulated a copy of the petition that, in fact, originated in Mumbai, created by Committee for Communal Amity (written by Sukla Sen).

Some people, including well known authors, lawyers and others have reportedly said in India and elsewhere that "Afzal Guru is a victim of unfair trial."

Accused of being part of the armed assault on the Indian Parliament, he's presently lodged in Tihar Jail.

In the petition initiated by the EKTA, it is stated that 'under international human rights standards people charged with crimes punishable by death are entitled to the observance of strictest fair trial guarantees in view of the irreversible and most extreme nature of the penalty. Hence, meting out of death penalty upon conclusion of a trial in which the provisions of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had not been respected, which can no longer be remedied by appeal, would constitute a gross violation of the rights to life as per the Article 6 (1) of the aforesaid Covenant'.  

"The facts of the case are in the petition which is circulating," noted Sharma. 

He, on behalf of  their organisation is urging  people widely "to please look at it (the petition), and by singing it join the very many human rights activists, lawyers, writers, film-makers, etc. who have maintained that Mohammed Afzal is a victim of unfair trial."

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