For Life Means for Five Years.

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Life means just five years. At least in India, that is.

On the occasion of Independence Day on the 15th of this month, the Andhra Pradesh government wanted to release almost 1000 prisoners convicted of serious crimes and serving life sentences.

Prisoners become eligible to be released on remission after serving five years of their sentence.

Sateesh Galla, a Guntur-based advocate, filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the AP Government’s order, ‘which he said was an insult to the feelings of the victims of the crimes’.

Though the Supreme Court Bench refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to release 958 prisoners, Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy decided to wait until the Supreme Court takes a decision on the petition.

The last time the Andhra Pradesh Government had released prisoners on remission was in 2004. One of the prisoners released thus was Mujeeb Ahmed, who was sentenced to life in 1994 and released on special remission in 2004.

‘Mujeeb, who barged into the house of ASP Krishna Prasad and shot him and a security guard dead on November 29, 1992, was convicted for intending to wage war against the country’, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

‘After his release on August 15, 2004, under the special remission programme, Mujeeb went underground.’

 A dossier prepared by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and CID says he became an active member of the Hizbul-Mujahideen and ISI, and was part of the first terror cell in Andhra.

He was arrested again in December 2005. after he attempted to smuggle sophisticated arms from Kashmir to Hyderabad.

There was great opposition from the Police Department at the time of his release by the State government in 2004, a police official stated that ‘The Intelligence and CID should be consulted before releasing such persons, who are involved in anti-national activities’.

Yesterday, Mujib Ahmed was convicted by a Hyderabad court, on the charges of of sedition and collecting arms to wage war against the country. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Life imprisonment? In India that means five years, right?

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19 thoughts on “For Life Means for Five Years.”

  1. 'The Intelligence and CID should be consulted before releasing such persons, who are involved in anti-national activities'.I agree with this statement by the Intelligence and CID. Their Department must have taken a lot of effort to get the sentence for the culprit, but the Government which should not interfere in these affairs, is releasing them to continue the crimes, that too, anti-national crimes, again. The Court which has done justice, becomes a laughing stock, in this way.

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  2. Sraboney– Yes, it does. But there are no 'compassionate' considerations in this case!Sandhya– Yes, I too, wonder how the State Government could go against the recommendations of the Police Department like this.

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  3. This is appalling. Independence day doesnt mean that such stupidity must is perpetuated across the country. What respect does this have for the judiciary and the judicial process. I wonder if anti-terrorism is such a sisyphean task. Its appalling and upsetting.

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  4. Hi Manju,Like everything else, this too has different perspectives.Whilst one Mujeeb may have regressed and come back with a vengence, there may be ten others who may take a reformed path.I, however, agree that this list has to be prepared keeping in mind that those arrested for anti-national activities do not figure in the list.It is also important that some parallel steps should be taken to rehabilitate such prisoners. Without a helping hand for re-settlement there is a high likelihood that they too may revert back to crime.

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  5. I am convinced that our government has developed these immense blind spots. You write about letting off terrorist guys. Todays news writes about some witness for the 26/11, who was introduced as an important prosecution witness yesterday, and the fellow disappears today. The government is clueless. Security is only about building reenforcements for courts and powerful people. The government that decrees excessive security as status to faltu folks, doesnt have the sense to allocate security to this new important witness. Is this stupidity a prerequisite for people in power, or a result of being in power ? Just wondering.

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  6. There should not be blanket amnesty but according to the seriousness of the crime and the proportion of the sentence already served. And of course prisoners sentenced for terrorism and sedition should be exempted from such an amnesty. Good post, Manju.

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  7. I think all our politicians, irrespective of party,take all such decisions with only electoral calculations in mind. Letting off prisoners should be done based solely on the basis of honest inputs given by jail authorities and perhaps eminent psychologists based on the behaviour of the convicts in jail.In any case, there should be no room for leniency to terrorists. There are umpteen Mujeeb Ahmed type of cases in Kashmir…that is one reason why security forces who have lost their colleagues while capturing them under most difficult circumstances, sometimes do things which they must not.

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  8. Kavi– I had to google 'sisyphean'. :)But that is exactly what it is- and will remain so if terrorists are shown such leniency.Mavin– I agree, there is another side to releasing prisoners on remission. And their rehabilitation is to be desired.Perhaps the possibility of remission of that particular convict could be assessed at the time of the original sentencing? Maybe the sentencing judge- and not politicians- would be the best person to assess the seriousness of the crime and state of mind of the prisoner?Ugich Konitari– I read about that today. How shocking!

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  9. Sagarone– I agree- prisoners serving sentences for terror and sedition should not be given amnesty. I remember reading that there are such guidelines by the Supreme Court in place. Perhaps politicians are able to find loopholes in them?Vinodji– I think you are right- politicians take all decisions keping electoral equations into account. Sad state of affairs.As for your last point- it must be an extremely infuriating situation for the security forces.

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  10. Such releases only make a farce of a court's ruling and the action taken by the law enforcers in arresting those criminals, besides becoming dangerous for society at large.

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  11. Let us please understand that any decision in India is based on political calculations.When Afzal Guru can be treated the he is being treated,who cares what happened in AP??It is only about votes

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  12. What is the need to show compassion on those persons who willingly done that crime… which are cold blooded crimes and are not at all acceptable by means..they must be in the jail until their life… thats is the maximum compassion we can show to them…

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  13. Shail– I agree. After taking so much efforts to catch and prosecute terrorists- to see them walk free…Chowlaji– Yes, it's all about votes!Kanagu– At least in the case of terrorists- I agree completely.

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  14. Sucharita– Please feel free to write your views here- even if they differ from mine or those of other commentors.:)I personally do feel though – whether we believe that long term imprisonment is correct or not- that the terms of imprisonment should be set at the time of sentencing. To set prisoners free, on a politician's whim (which is what it amounts to), on the occasion of Independence Day seems to be very arbitrary decision-making.

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  15. This is really disgusting.Most of the prisoners serving the life time sentence, must have done something really a serious crime, looking at the rate of conviction in India, their crime is beyond any suspicion, then why show leniency? Already our law says..chahe apradhi choot jaaye, koi nirdosh ko saja nahi honi chahiye..and due to this many criminals go scotfree.Due to democracy we see many dangerous situations sometime..like at a time the police was fighting some people, and then the same people are elected and police has to respect them, and defend, nobody thinks how demoralising it must be or them, the way it happened in Assam jharkhand etc.

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