This International Day against Death Penalty, we solemnly reaffirm our commitment towards ensuring justice remains a tool for reformation and not retribution. Over the past 15 years, we have spearheaded more than 68 court cases related to the Gujarat 2002 carnage. And though we have successfully secured the conviction of 168 people, not once have we demanded the death penalty!
This is because revenge begets revenge, anger leads to anger, hate leads to more hate and blood lust has no end. Even in horrific cases like the Gulberg society massacre where Congress MP Ehsaan Jaffri was mercilessly lynched and hundreds of people burnt alive, the survivors found the strength to refrain from demanding a vindictive punishment when the perpetrators were convicted. CJP played an important role in ensuring that none of the petitioners demanded death penalty despite the case falling into the "rarest of rare" category.
Similarly, even in the Naroda Patiya case, where there were several horrific instances of gendered violence and immolations, CJP once again worked towards securing justice that soothes the pain rather than the kind that aggravates it. Even in this case we did not demand the death penalty.
"The Naroda Patiya massacre was brutal, inhuman and shameful, and a rarest of rare crime, but we decided not to plead for the death penalty, because it undermines human dignity," says CJP secretary and human rights activist Teesta Setalvad who has been at the forefront of securing justice for the victims and survivors of the Gujarat carnage.
Now that we have expanded the scope of our work to cover matters related to women's rights and child rights, we still stand resolute against the death penalty, even in cases of child sexual abuse and rape.