New Delhi: Communist activist Kobad Ghandy has said that Afzal Guru who was hanged in 2013, was not a terrorist but a humanistic person and that jail staff cried for him when he walked to the gallows.
Gandhy who has spent 10 years in six different jails including seven in Delhi’s Tihar jail, has recently authored a memoir called ‘Fractured Freedom: A Prison Memoir’. In the book, he has talked about Guru and other prisoners including Nirbhaya rapist Vinay Sharma and former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala.
”He [Guru] had a strong feeling for the oppression going on in Kashmir. He was also religious but he was not a fundamentalist or a fanatic,” Ghandy said in an interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire.
In the interview, he maintained that he had gone to the parliamentary attack case, in which Guru was hanged. However, he chose to share his views on Guru in the light of what he had observed during his days in Tihar Jail.
According to his account, Guru was also a romantic person. There was an occasion when he was found singing Ghazals to his wife for hours on phone.
Guru was a well-read and well-informed person, and he introduced the author to the Kashmir situation, Islam and its progressive aspects and, most importantly, Sufi thinking”, says Ghandy. Guru had read Noam Chomsky and had all six volumes of Rumi in Urdu and regularly studied them.
Ghandy also speaks about other prisoners he met in jail.
Speaking of Vinay Sharma, one of the Nirbhaya rapists, who, for a while, shared a cell with him, Ghandy said that he was ”a vile sort, horrible, terrible … I have never met anyone like him”. Ghandy described Vinay Sharma as ”a liar and cheat”.
Ghandy said being a Sharma (i.e. a Brahmin), Vinay Sharma ”acted as if he was pure and a pujari”.
He said that on the anniversary of the Nirbhaya rape when Nirbhaya’s mother would appear on television, Vinay Sharma would say she should be raped.
Ghandy said prisoners call Tihar jail ”Tihar Ashram”. Ghandy said it was a ”school for the criminalization of people” where drugs were freely and easily available amongst prisoners in Tihar Jail and the jail staff played an important role in peddling drugs. He said they made money out of it.