Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Revisiting Dhananjoy Chatterjee

"Ami nirdosh, aamake ora mere phelche (I am innocent, they are killing me)", this was one of the last sentences, and possibly the dying declaration of the first Indian to be sent to the gallows in 21st century. Amid widespread public debate, hysterical frenzy, Dhananjoy Chatterjee, 44, rapist and murderer, was hanged nearly two years back in August 14 2004. At a time, when the nation is arguing whether Md. Afzal Guru should be hanged, and at a time when the TADA court in Mumbai is on the verge of announcing the sentence of nearly 60 people(till now) who were found guilty of 1993 Mumbai blast, I remember each and every argument propounded by the proponents of his hanging. Those included, much of the urban youth, the victims friends and teachers, political leaders and their wives. This article describes everything that went wrong during those months, leading to his excution. The most relevant question they ask is, ''Had Dhananjoy Chatterjee been a neighbour's son, or an engineering student, would his fate have been different?". I ask the same question to my friends.

Two years later, I want to prove wrong, each and every argument that led to his killing, in a situation that is not very different from notorious public execution in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and rural India.

  • Death sentence as a Deterrence: Dhananjoy, a watchman, was accussed of raping and murdering a 14 year old girl. Let me ask this simple question. Do we have less number of rapes in 2005 or 2006 than we had in 2004? I don't think anybody is naive enough to believe that. A simple comparision of crime statistics from 2004 and 2005, shows that the number of rapes in India has actually gone up in one year after the hanging. I believe that those who are saying that capital punishment acts as a deterrence, even they know that this is not the case. Please , please, please show me one man who was convinced that he should not commit rape, just because Dhananjoy is not living anymore.

  • He is harmful for our society: How exactly? If he was not hanged on that day, he would have been serving a life sentence in Aligarh jail now. He would have been cut off from rest of the world, his freedom curtailed. There are thousands of rapists in Indian jails even now. Living. Let me assure the readers that, living in jail, not one of them is a danger to them or their near and dear ones. Rape or murder is not a philosophy that is practised by some kind of people, influenced by some other kind of people. It is not an ideology, that will die down on its own if we hang one of the perpetrators?

  • He never expressed remorse for his crime: Read the first line of this post. Dhananjoy Chatterjee never confessed to his crime. he was resolute in his innocence till his death. Why should he express remorse for something, that he believed he had not committed at all?

  • The victim's soul will not rest in peace as long as the perpetrators is alive: That's a self-contradictory argument. Soul, or Atma, is something that is very pure and divine. The negative emotions of hatred, anxiety or revenge cannot entrap a soul. It is completely wrong to say that if you don't kill him, the victim will not rest in its afterlife. Can a theologian of any language corroborate this argument? Find me one man or woman of God who can claim that the soul, even in its abstract concept, indeed yearns for revenge.

  • Dhananjoy Chatterjee has not sufferred enough in jail: For 13 long years, Dhananjoy was in solitary confinement. His family sufferred worse than him. They had to sell their land to meet the legal expenses. His old parents nearly committed suicide. Their grief was broadcasted live on our INSENSITIVE national media. For ten long years he was sending his mercy petitions to everybody, in the knowledge that he might be killed anytime by the state and the people of this country.

I remember people saying that 'rapists will now think twice', 'it is a victory of good over evil' and things to that effect. As I mentioned earlier, just show me one rapist who thought twice before committing the crime. What happenned to Dhananjoy's family after that? Does anybody know? They, whose private grief was turned into a public spectacle, they who were pushed to penury by the state, how are they now? Let's ask these questions. Have we not condemned the entire family by murdering Dhananjoy. More often than not, death sentence is a punishment for the family of the accussed than the guilty himself/herself. When will the people of this country understand this simple logic?

The case for his mercy petition to be accepted was pretty strong. As this article mentions, "no one could have deserved mercy better than Dhananjoy. He was poor. His conviction was based largely on circumstantial evidence that could well have been fabricated by someone else who committed the offence, but was powerful and rich. He had no previous record of crime. He did not have the services of good, expensive lawyers. His behaviour in the jail gave no indication that he was a hardened criminal. He had languished in jails for almost fourteen years under fear of death. His family (including his wife) remained convinced that he was innocent. Generally speaking, in case of a rapist, his wife refuses to support him. His wife, after his death would have would have to spend the rest of her life as a destitute widow." Inspite of all that, we killed him. For the sake of revenge, at best.

The blunt question is, each one of us who asked for his death, each one of us who made up this public opinion to murder him, what have we achieved? We might have got our momentary satisfaction of being a part of this collective murder of a social animal. But beyond that, what? What has Ms. Malini Bhattacharya, wife of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, why is she happier now than she was in 2004? Why is Ms. Gillian Rosemary D'Costa Hart, principal of the victims school, why is she leading a more satisfactory life after bringing grief to his family? Dhananjoy was murdered on the eve of the independence day, that also happenned to be his BIRTHDAY. How brutal can a state or its people be? Two years later, it is time we ask these questions and try to find answers to them. We made a terrible mistake on August 14, 2004. Let's avoid it in future. Let's not allow our collective conscience to be so dumbed down, that we need to participate in these public executions to boost our sagging morales, to elevate our sense of morality. Assuming for a moment, if Dhananjoy was indeed 'nirdosh', can we ever be able to forgive ourselves? Two years later, we should all hang our heads in shame. His last words were, "ami aparadhi na, Ishwar apnader bhalo koruk (I am innocent, I am not a criminal. May the Lord bless you)." That's enough to send a shiver.

48 Comments:

At 7:30 am, Blogger Varun Singh said...

amnesty has an article on death penalty.

http://web.amnesty.org/pages/deathpenalty-facts-eng

Also to note is the Chinese numbers... and then you can wonder why/how they can persecute Tibetans.

 
At 2:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 10:32 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

completely disagree. Dhanjay is responsible for the misfortunes of his family, not the nation. I couldn't care less if his entire family perished. He probably got the punishment he deserved; only that death by hanging is less painful.

 
At 12:38 pm, Blogger Aharna said...

I am an ex-student of the school from which the victim belonged.
I do agree to this article on one point that hanging dhanonjoy hasn't changed anything. there are still rapes and the criminals are moving freely and repeating the crime daily.

so may the soul of dhanonjoy rest in peace and forgive us if he can.

 
At 11:44 am, Anonymous kaustubh said...

completely disagree. whoever said killing dhananjoy hasnt changed anything? how would you feel if it was your own 14 year daughter or sister who was raped, brutally battered, killed by breaking her voice box and then raped again? how can this bastard not make your skin crawl? death sentence doesnt deter people. right. what would you have us do then? make them gods and worship them everyday? i dont care whether killing dhananjoy will affect anyone or not. this guy deserved to die for what he had done. Period.

 
At 12:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely disagree.

You are voicing that nation should have given a chance to the criminal.. was the victim given a chance?

Ofcourse there is going to be good and bad and we all live with it, but that has nothing to do with allowing such a beast walk away is it? He has to reap what he sow. Period.

Before jumping up and down about human rights, put yourself in the shoes of the victim, her family and her loved ones. And then tell me if he should be pardoned or not.

You are asking how can be be a threat to the society, I ask you this, what good will he be to the society anymore? He raped a 14 year old, choked her throat, so she couldn't shout, raped her over and over again and finally to escape killed her. Who gives a fuck if he is a changed man now or not !!! You took away a beautiful life, you bastard !!

 
At 8:16 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely against
Being a security guard his duty was to protect instead he brought animal instinct that too forcefully upon a minor. Such degrading mental state is far from all reformation and is aharm to the society.

 
At 11:06 am, Anonymous Utpal said...

He would never be killed if his name was Mohammad Dhananjay..

 
At 1:54 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely against.You can't justify crime.He got punished for what he did.You can't expect system to change overnight.But if we continue with the same measures then we will get the results in coming years.About his family...Did he twice abt the girl's family before raping her.

 
At 8:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think dhananjoy's punishment was justified with the girl because he did two crimes at a time and both the crimes were dangerous neither murdering nor raping is small crime he has not only destroyed the girl's life but also finished it....

 
At 9:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you know that in 1969 in the west bengal city of burdwan,a gang of cpi(m)supporters ransacked a home of political opponents and slit the throat of two earning member brothers of the house and MIXED THEIR BLOOD WITH RICE AND FORCED THE VICTIM'S MOTHER TO CONSUME THAT BLOODIED RICE OF HER SONS.do you know the aftermath? the killers were
1.NIRUPAM SEN-LATER APPOINTED MINISTER OF INDUSTRY IN THE LEFT FRONT GOVT AND POLITBURO MEMBER OF CPM
2.MANIK RAY-LATER CHANGED HIS NAME TO ANIL BASU AND SIMILARLY TERRORIZED PEOPLE OF ARAMBAGH TO BECOME AN MP
3.AMAL HALDER- APPOINTED DISTRICT SECRETARY OF THE PARTY,HE STILL WIELDS POWER OF LIFE AND DEATH IN THE AREA
4.RAJAT BANDOPADHYAY- APPOINTED REGISTRAR OF THE PRESTIGIOUS JADAVPUR UNIVERSITY BY LEFT FRONT GOVT AND MANY OTHERS WHO WERE SIMILARLY REWARDED. THE LEFT FRONT TERRORIST GOVT HAS DESTROYED ALL EVIDENCE OF THIS GROTESQUE CRIME.
so isn't it ironic that the leader of that murderer left front gang budhhadev and his equally likeminded wife pleaded to hang a helpless villager for a crime much less in magnitude and grisliness thsn they committed? send those bastards to gallows instead.

 
At 9:38 pm, Blogger p said...

Hi Anoop,

I TOTALLY AGREE with u!
I first read this story in a daily when Dr. Kalam has rejected Dhananjoy's plea. The most imp thing to be noticed here is that Dhanu was already imprisoned for 14 yrs which is a capital punishment. Hanging till death OR a life imprisonment (14yrs) is the highest punishment for ANY crime in India. Unfortunately, this guy had to face both. Above all, he has mentioned to his wife in his last letter that he was innocent. I wonder how the judges could punish him without the DNA witness! Even my colleague had this opinion..but we all remained dumb, then!

 
At 8:07 am, Anonymous E-Guru Rajeev said...

I never thought before like you.

It's sounds Great.

I new kind of thinking about Dhanu .

 
At 10:27 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if there is even 0.1% chance that he was innocent? It is not uncommon for poor people to get accused and convicted of the crimes they did not commit.

 
At 1:36 am, Anonymous Rohit said...

Rapists do think twice...and are scared after hearing dhananjoy's case...read this

http://archive.thepeninsulaqatar.com/component/content/article/348-indiaarchiverest/69629.html

 
At 1:36 am, Anonymous Rohit said...

Rapists do think twice...and are scared after hearing dhananjoy's case...read this

http://archive.thepeninsulaqatar.com/component/content/article/348-indiaarchiverest/69629.html

 
At 10:25 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/1328822/

 
At 6:15 pm, Anonymous Rishi Raman said...

Yes,i totaly agree with u.one can see the crime cases including rape after dhananjay hanging,It's increasing day by day.in india,everyday,around more than 250 murder &100 rapes continues.but is there any hanging cases,has u heard!in fact no.why?bcoz maximum of them r either rich&powerful or a muslim.only in india'capital,more than 150 rapes came into media in last 1 year,u forget about the rapewho did not came into the open public,nothing happened.some of the rapers r enjoying openly.finaly we should miss 14.08.2004 as a black day.at least we should take care of his parents and wife as its our moral responsibility.jai guru

 
At 4:31 am, Blogger opensourceecm said...

excellent post..infact this shows how poor our judicial system is..Dhanajay has commited rape and also it was totally on the basis of circumstances evidence neither any DNA tests and not enough proof was there..and all those people who support dhananjay hanging did you guys ever thought what about ajmal kasab? afzal guru..they have killed so many innocent lives and we are feeding them at the cost of our money..what about those innocent childeren that was being raped and eaten by Nithari rapists? do we have any answer? Our prime minister and president also support those whoi have money and affluent..in india 3 women are raped in every 1 minute so hanging of dhanajoy did made any difference? it is very true that justice is only for rich not for poor...and this is india

 
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At 8:34 pm, Anonymous Jatzor said...

There are clearly two schools of thoughts here, those who think the death penalty is excessive and those who think the crime justifies the penalty.

I would have to say that you cannot generalise these things. Not all rapists deserve to die but some crimes are henious enough to deserve the death penalty.

Why should taxpayers pay to keep an unrepenting criminal alive? Would you be happy for your hard earned money to pay for the upkeep of someone who has raped and murdered your friends daughter?

I certainly would not!

 
At 4:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

totally disagree

 
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At 11:47 pm, Anonymous Shreya Sen said...

It's hilarious how people don't take out long, dark, tea times to reminisce about victim/survivors of sexual violence

 
At 6:18 am, Blogger Unknown said...

yes, i totally agree with you! let the likes of dhanonjoy chatterjee live, let them bludgeon, rape and murder young, helpless girls to death, let us feed them year after year with our tax money. Let your daughter also go through the same. perhaps then you will realise the bullshit you are talking about!!

 
At 3:37 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree to your post..and to all those hypocrites who say that dhanonjoy deserved the death penalty..he as accussed through some cirumstancial evidence...there was no direct evidence to prove the rape..and what was the girl's family doing?..why were they so quite when the furore about the death sentence was going on...and for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's wide an innocent man's life was a great way to make a false publicity for his party...i still remember her shouting on the street in her support for the death sentence..in fact her own party members were later accussed of raping a teenage girl in Singur and killing her...to sum up Gillian D'Costa..i saw her arguing in support of the death sentnece on television, one could clearly notice the hatred and violence she had in her eyes..Alas that such violent people still continue to be school authorities...

 
At 3:38 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree to your post..and to all those hypocrites who say that dhanonjoy deserved the death penalty..he was accussed through some circumstancial evidence...there was no direct evidence to prove the rape..and what was the girl's family doing?..why were they so quite when the furore about the death sentence was going on...and for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's wife an innocent man's life was a great way to make a false publicity for his party...i still remember her shouting on the street in her support for the death sentence..in fact her own party members were later accussed of raping a teenage girl in Singur and killing her...to sum up Gillian D'Costa..i saw her arguing in support of the death sentnece on television, one could clearly notice the hatred and violence she had in her eyes..Alas that such violent people still continue to be school authorities...

 
At 3:26 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

big deal...hey he only raped and killed one person..he should have been let off after a short sentence.

 
At 9:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a girl , I think every rapsit should be hanged... how can anybody think even to do mercy with such cold blooded animals(rapists). Do they ever think????? Just think of a girl .. who was returnig from her office and her driver raped her and then killed her by smashing her face with stones and cutting her wrists veins.... its brutal.... In india, what is the parameter for death sentence?????/ Its shameful we are still feeding AJMAL KASAB who killed so many innocent people.

 
At 5:06 am, Blogger Alex Peter said...


we made a big mistake.
Mass hysteria killed a poor man.
Capital Punishment is worst and worthless thing.

Alex Peter

 
At 5:02 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Abdul Kalam is a great person no doubt...but i'm sorry to say that at times he showed immense signs of insanity and childish behavior, and granting a death sentence to an innocent man was an example...does the Indian govt have the guts to hang Kasab..Dhanonjoy was hanged because he was poor..

 
At 4:20 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what if he was not the actual rapist?would u still keep the same view.just bcoz he couldn't gain any evidence to prove his innocence doesn't mean in anyway that he was the actual criminal and even if he was the real,shouldn't be law equal for all .in one place santosh singh,accused in priyadarshini rape and murder case got his mercy plea accepted only bcoz he had become father of a child and had a wife(which was 8 years after the crime),shouldn't dhananjoy get mercy plea accepted when thought in favour of equality before law?

 
At 4:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

do u think that a person who has committed such a crime won't accept his crime after 14 years of mental torture under constant fear of death even once,if he was the real criminal then surely he deserved what he got,but how can u say that dhananjoy was the real one and simply bcoz he was convicted doesn't mean he committed the sin.

 
At 4:39 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

do u think that if a rich guy would have the same thing then,then they should be fed bcoz they have powers.the point here is if others are not given this type of punishment for even more heinous crimes,why only dhan. deserved this,is it fair?

 
At 11:51 pm, Anonymous soundarya said...

whether he is a poor or rich, it doesn't matter. he had done the mistake may be you can call sin. he had to get punished for that and he got that. every single responsible citizen should feel good for that..

 
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At 9:01 am, Blogger Nangso Thingnok said...

I believe he was helpless poor and an innocent man who was falsely convicted...RIP !

 
At 7:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

he was innoccent because a criminal cannot behave in such way when he find death at his face.i think wrong person was killed

 
At 2:18 am, Blogger anamika said...

Dhananjay was totally innocent....this is not tenable at all....lack of evidences..it was totally corrupted..

 
At 6:19 am, Blogger Bidisha Banerjee said...

I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU. DHANANJOY WAS FROM A VERY POOR FAMILY. HIS FAMILY COULD NOT ARRANGE FOR A QULIFIED LAWYER AND HENCE HE WAS SENTENCED TO DEATH. RAPE CASES HAVE NOT STOPPED, INFACT IT HAS INCREASED. NIRBHAYA CASE, NITHARI CASE ANFD MANY MORE. SO MANY RAPE CASES ARE TAKING PLACE EVERY MINUTE IN INDIA. DOES THE GOVT HANG ALL THE RAPISTS. RIP DHANANJOY

 
At 7:27 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Anoop Saha, its been 10 years since Dhananjoy and nothing has changed, Dhananjoy, then Afzal Guru and now Yakub Memon. It is not upto fellow human beings to take the god given life of other human beings, be it criminals, rapists or terrorists. It might be legal, but it is still a murder. They should never be spared, yes they have be to punished, that too severely, but just take care to spare their lives.

Its high time that we abolish capital punishment in India, just think with a little sense of humanity in your heart, where are we going to wash off all these sins?

 
At 6:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is an excerpt on the Hetal Parekh murder case followed by Dhananjay Chatterjee's death sentence. This excerpt is based on a report authored by two of the brightest scientists of Indian Statistical Institute. Their study clearly demonstrates that there are ample reasons to believe that all the charges made against Dhananjay Chatterjee during the trial were actually false and that the evidences were fabricated. Moreover, there is every reason to believe that he was, in fact, innocent, and was rather victimized to hide the real culprit. Here is the link to that excerpt. Please read it carefully before you express your own opinion.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_AC2-dZCRH3Y2tlTHE1VV9vdlIyTXJyQ3JfcGZYVHRzbnFj/view?pli=1

 
At 6:31 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is an excerpt on the Hetal Parekh murder case followed by Dhananjay Chatterjee's death sentence. This excerpt is based on a report authored by two of the brightest scholars of Indian Statistical Institute. Their study clearly demonstrates that there are ample reasons to believe that all the charges framed against Dhananjay Chatterjee during the trial were actually false and the evidences against him were fabricated. Moreover, there is every reason to believe that he was, in fact, innocent, and was rather victimized to hide the real culprit. Here is the link to that excerpt. Please read it carefully before you express your own opinion.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_AC2-dZCRH3Y2tlTHE1VV9vdlIyTXJyQ3JfcGZYVHRzbnFj/view?pli=1

 
At 4:42 am, Blogger Palash Chakrabortty said...

I think matter is not so simple. till now in independent India most of the death penalty has been given by politically motivated.I need to ask a simple question to you all.

There are so many politicians who are accused in murder case . Can they be prosecuted. Answer is "Never". The law is made to protect them and to protect their criminal activity.
I am sad with Hetal Parekh family and what they have faced but my question is is he one one into this country who attempted rape. After him also so many cases are there which were brutal than this.

Sad for the law formation in India.... 14 years + hanging...... great example of justice .



 
At 10:49 pm, Blogger Priyanka Pandey said...

Hiee..
If according to u dhananjoy was not the one who raped and killed the girl...and if u r saying every evidence was false then who did that murder is anyone concentrating on that factor...?

 
At 8:32 am, Anonymous Ria said...

Thinking with a rational mind, without influence of the judgement and other opinions, Hetal's family gave inconsistent statements, circumstantial evidence was almost positively tampered, witness' and the doctor's statement were without contradictory. Hetal's family came from money while Chatterjee came from a poor family. I am sure Chatterjee was innocent. This a travesty of justice and shows how biased the Indian judicial system is. had Chatterjee been a man from a well-off family, the same would not have happened. And I am saying this being a girl. Whay did her mother wait for three hours before filing a complaint.

 
At 11:43 am, Blogger Souvik Roy said...

If this person has killed the girl then his punishment his fair enough. But nothing conclusive was proved. What if this was some honor killing? If you have money you can not only escape but also frame innocents and poor people.

 
At 11:46 am, Blogger Souvik Roy said...

Is there any convincing proof that he killed the girl? What if her family members killed her or her neighbours killed her. She had spoken to her neighbours after her exam and they knew very well she was alone.

 

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