Bollywood’s veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar has been very vocal when it comes to social issues that exist within a community. He has often spoke up about the ban on Pakistani artists in India as well as the on the burqa. Now, he’s come forward to express his disappointment over the verdict of a rape and murder case of an eight-year-old named Asifa Bano, which occurred earlier this year, in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. He feels that while he is not sure about the merits and demerits of capital punishment for the culprits, it is still not a good enough penalty for the crime that has been committed.
At a book launch event held earlier this week, Javed said, “I have heard that some people are disappointed with the verdict because they thought these people deserved capital punishment. I, in all honesty, must accept that I don't know have very clear cut ideas about capital punishment - whether it's right or wrong. But one thing that I am sure about is that capital punishment is not a deterrent of crime. Crime hasn’t reduced in places where capital punishment is being implemented and it hasn’t increased in places where capital punishment is banned. So, I have no idea that whether the culprits have been given capital punishment or a life term is good enough. I am not sure.”
However, he explained that the culprits of the heinous crime, if given a life sentence, should not be allowed to walk free if they behave well in prison, or any other grounds. He added, “Many times in our society when somebody who has committed a crime gets life imprisonment, he’s released after two or three years. After being released, they go on to have a happy life. I hope life imprisonment was good enough but if privileges such as walking out free after two to three years continue happening, then there’s no point of it.”
On Monday, a court in the Indian district of Pathankot held six people guilty in a rape case that sparked a nationwide outrage earlier this year. It ordered a life sentence to three men who were accused of raping and murdering a minor girl. The court had also ordered three other people to serve five years in jail for destroying evidence that was important to the case. According to the victim’s family’s attorney, Mobeen Farooqi, Vishal Jangotra, son of the mastermind of the crime, Sanji Ram, was also accused; however, he was acquitted due to “benefit of doubt”.