Target: Indian President Pranab Mukherjee
Goal: Stop the executions of three death row prisoners, one of whom did not receive a fair trial under international standards.
Three individuals–Shivu, Jadeswamy, and Devender Pal Singh Bhullar–are at high risk of execution in India. While Shivu and Jadeswamy were recently granted a stay of execution, Devender Pal Singh Bhullar remains at risk and could be executed any time. Sign the petition and urge India to grant Devender Pal Singh Bhullar a stay of execution, and to take steps to abolish the death penalty completely.
India had maintained a de facto moratorium on executions since 2004. But since President Pranab Mukherjee took office, he “has rejected the mercy petitions of at least 19 people,” according to Amnesty International, and there have been two executions during his tenure so far. This turn of events is at odds with the larger trend in Asia of turning away from the death penalty; 41% of the countries in Asia and the Pacific region have banned the death penalty for all crimes and about another 25% “are abolitionist in practice” if not in actual law. India’s renewed embrasure of capital punishment marks a step backwards.
Furthermore, there are problems with Shivu, Jadeswamy, and Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s cases. Shivu and Jadeswamy, who were both recently granted stays of execution, petitioned for mercy in 2005. The petition was eventually rejected–after pending for six years. The men’s lawyers are now petitioning for a commuted sentence, arguing that such an inordinately long delay makes the men’s punishment “cruel, inhuman, and degrading.”
Bhullar’s petition for a commutation of his sentence has been rejected, with the Supreme Court ruling that because Bhullar was convicted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), the “enormity of [his] crime” was too great to grant mercy. However, Bhullar astonishingly did not have access to a lawyer after his arrest or during his trial, and he claims that his “confession” was given only as a result of pressure from the police.
Stand up for Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and for justice in India. Sign the petition and urge India to declare a permanent moratorium on the death penalty.
In a time when over half of the countries in Asia refrain from imposing capital punishments on their citizens, India’s recent move back toward the death penalty marks a disappointing regression. I urge you to take steps toward banning the death penalty, and in the meantime I urge you to stay the executions of death row prisoners while making absolutely certain that they have been treated fairly by the legal system.
Devender Pal Singh Bhullar is a prime example of the problems with the death penalty. Bhullar, who has been in custody since 1993, has been sentenced to death for the role he allegedly played in a 1993 car bombing. However, Bhullar was not given access to a lawyer during his interrogation or trial, and he claims that his “confession” was made “under police pressure.” Even if Bhullar is guilty, India cannot truly say that justice has been served when it allows such glaring problems to plague its court proceedings. Similarly, two other death row inmates, Shivu and Jadeswamy, petitioned for mercy in 2005 and were kept in suspense for over six years. This delay was uncalled-for and unjust.
The death penalty is inhumane, unnecessary, and increasingly outdated. I urge you to put an end to the barbaric practice of capital punishment and to ensure that all prisoners are treated fairly under the law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Sumeet4682 via Wikimedia Commons