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Dear Kossaks.,

I want your inputs and thoughts. I am sure that many, if not most of you are aware of the brutal rape of an Indian paramedical student. She fought bravely for her life for 13 days before succumbing to her injuries a few days before New Year.


It is extremely uncommon in India for a case like this to rattle the public and the politicians. No one who expressed anything but absolute support for women's rights have been spared (as it should be!). In the two decades that i have closely followed Indian politics, i have never seen the Prime Minister and the head of the ruling party (Sonia Gandhi - the most powerful Indian politician) having to answer for a single incident before, like it happened in this case.

To summarize: The girl and her male friend watch a movie ("Life of Pi") and board a city bus, run by a contractor at 9:30 PM. There were 5 men apart from the driver and after passing lewd comments, they beat up the boy and brutally assaulted the girl. How Brutal? Not only was she gang raped by 6 men, they inserted the rusted iron tyre jack and tore her intestines. After she was savaged, both she & her friend were thrown out of the moving bus and left to die on the road. The driver apparently missed running over her. She was found with just 5% of her intestines inside her body.

The treatment was an uphill battle. Even in her pain, she gave her testimony, not ONCE but TWICE through hand signs to the Police in the presence of a magistrate. Given the precarious condition of the patient, the protests that erupted on the street and the need for best care, Indian government shifted her to Singapore but she died within 36 hours because of multiple organ failure.

Her name has not been released publicly. As a father, as an uncle, as a cousin and as a husband - i was OUTRAGED when i heard of this case.

My Question to fellow Kossaks: Why should the six men be spared of the death sentence? I don't advocate death sentence lightly. India uses the death sentence sparingly. I always believed that solitary confinment for the rest of life without a chance for parole or contact with any human being is the worst punishment. But in this case, why should society show any lenience to the six rapists who brutally savaged an innocent 23 year old? Why should death penalty be abolished?


What is your POV on Death Penalty

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| 76 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is not the first heinous crime (11+ / 0-)

    to be committed on the planet. There are many of them that are committed every day. There are plenty of arguments pro and con regarding capital punishment. But it is usually presumed that the crime is heinous (why else would the topic even come up?). You are basically saying "these people did something terrible (murder, rape, whatever) so why shouldn't they be executed?".

    You have no idea? You know no reasons why empowering states to practice the ancient and barbaric act of taking the lives of their own citizens is considered by many to be a bad idea?

  •  There is more to justice (8+ / 0-)

    than vengeance.

  •  What the murderers.... (8+ / 0-)

    .....DESERVE, and how society and the state should RESPOND, are not contiguous.

    The state should not be in the business of ending lives.  Keeping monsters in prison permanently is a proper response.

    If you give them the right to kill anyone, you're ceding to them the right to kill YOU if they choose.

    I don't agree to giving them that right.

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:24:15 AM PST

    •  And while we're on the subject... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quill, auapplemac

      ...I wanna know what chowder-brained morons let that guy who beat his Gramma to death with a hammer outta jail so that he could murder firemen and burn down his neighborhood!

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:51:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  keep in prison... is that the ultimate punishment? (0+ / 0-)

      I am not convinced with the STATE can kill YOU argument. In India, there are a zillion checks and balances. So too, in theory, in US. For eg: A death penalty can be awarded by any court in India but every court above that court (state high court - equivalent to state supreme court as well as the Supreme Court of India), the Home Minister, the Prime Minister and the President have to DENY mercy pleas for the accussed. The most recent death penalty that was carried out was that of the Mumbai Terror attacker who was part of a team of 10 people that massacred 170 in 2008.

      With such checks and balances, why should we not retain the death penalty for the worst of worst crimes?

    •  Well, to take that a little further ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... if you give them the right to imprison anyone, then you're ceding to them the right to imprison you if they choose.

      The fact that the punishment could be applied to you or me or anybody isn't in itself a reason to make it not an option.

      •  i am confused ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        we are NOT ceding to the state the ABSOLUTE right to imprison & execute someone. we are EMPOWERING the state to have a due process to execute guys who have committed worst of worst crimes AFTER they have had MULTIPLE LAYERS OF MANDATORY REVIEWS validating the judgement ...

        isn't it a stretch to go from executing folks convicted of dealth penalty sentences to imprisioning & executing common man walking on the street ...

    •  I've always thought that life w/o parole in (0+ / 0-)

      Solitary is a much worse punishment than death.  And better for society.

      Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

      by Smoh on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:25:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In another case a rape victim killed herself (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    after a police officer suggested she "get over" the gang rape and perhaps marry one of her attackers.

    It appears gang rape is not that uncommon in certain areas, and rape is accepted as a cultural norm within certain parameters.  The question as to what can be done is a complex one as is the question of what should be done.  Some reports are that at least one of the attackers is a juvenile and here in some states, we have seen 13 year olds can be sentenced to death.  So should all attackers be condemned to death and if so, to what death?

    Since we see ourselves as a merciful society, we advocate for a "painless" death for the condemned but there is currently no process of execution which can be assured to be painless and relatively benign  

    •  rights of minor ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the minor in this case was the guy who did the most damage, as per media reports. He claims to be 17 years old and the police are doing a bone marrow test ...

      my question is this: why should the state grant any citizen an ABSOLUTE RIGHT of LIFE with no responsibility attached to the right?

      •  the theory behind culpability is that the person (0+ / 0-)

        has to have the ability to formulate a plan and understand what he is doing and the consequences, hence the insanity defense.

        In the Bad Old Days, not only did they execute 2 year olds whose actions had caused a death but they also hanged farm animals who had caused a human death, taking the idea of personal responsibility to the extreme

  •  the death penalty should be abolished, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, quill, sfinx, wenchacha

    because it makes you (the state is acting as your agent) a murderer as well. death by execution is classified as a homocide. let them rot in a jail cell for the rest of their lives. as i understand it (from newspaper reports), one of the alleged (they have yet to be tried) offenders is a juvenile. again, as i understand it, from newspaper reports, he wouldn't be eligible for the death penalty in india. though i have no idea what the law is for juveniles in that country, i assume jail time would be the alternative for him.

    life without parole.

    •  yup...state-sanctioned, cold-blooded murder (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dservgun, quill, Manny

      when pondering the death penalty, i think it's helpful to make it less abstract: could you flip the switch/drop the plunger yourself?  no?  then you don't support the death penalty.

      Why should death penalty be abolished?
      because it's not a deterrent to crime and we can rarely be 100% certain when it comes to guilt.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:46:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  rationale for death penalty ... (0+ / 0-)
        could you flip the switch/drop the plunger yourself
        Yes. If i ravage a women so mercilessly or mow down 20 children, why should i receive mercy from the society.

        I don't get the logic for denalty penalty to be abolished because it is not a deterrent. To me, death penalty is a point transaction and a PUNISHMENT for someone's crimes.

        In this case, there is 100% certainity of guilt. The bus in which the crime was committed has been confiscated, the bus driver and the 5 fellow passengers have been identified by the victim and her male friend. Three of them had bite marks as described by the victim. The prelim forensic report is awaited but it is expected to confirm the crime. I want the courts to decide this case and don't want to pre-judge these guys of the crime. My question is this - If the courts confirm that these 6 guys raped and murdered the victim, why should be spared of the death penalty when they didn't keep up the responsibility to society of being good citizens?

        •  because the death penalty (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          doesn't achieve anything that life w/out parole doesn't.

          i am speaking more broadly, not just of this case, but i'll retract the "rarely" and rephrase:  if we cannot be 100% certain of guilt 100% of the time, we have no business employing capital punishment at any time.

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:57:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  hmmm ... (0+ / 0-)

            while death penalty = life w/o parole in a certain sense of putting away the perpetrator of crime away from society, he still has the ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO LIFE without having the responsibility of being civil in society ...

            100% guilt, 100% of the time: When you have multiple levels of courts as well as multiple levels of elected officials - especially in a non-idealogical environment having the ability to convert the death penalty to life without parole, we establish the 100% guilt, 100% of the time. I know that there are cases in southern states where this principle was violated but in India, they go the other way. Even 1% doubt means downgrading death penalty to life sentence. That's why India has death penalty in the books is extremely rarely used. The guy was part of the conspiracy that bombed the Indian Parliament (equivalent of Congress) was awarded the death penalty but is still in jail because the President hasn't taken a decision on his mercy plea yet ...

            •  Quality of defense? Ethnic/caste/religious bias? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              What is the quality of defense given to indigent defendants?  Both the US and India have histories of severe bias against subsets of their own population -- what are the protections available?  Is life without parole an option?

              "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

              by Yamaneko2 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:23:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  not to mention the ambitions of certain DAs (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                InfiniteThoughts, wenchacha

                who look for wins, regardless of reality.  there is just too much evidence of corruption among police and other law enforcement to justify ever killing anybody for a crime.

                Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

                by Cedwyn on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:33:09 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  that isn't a major concern area ... (0+ / 0-)

                  DAs are not elected in India. They don't run for higher or electoral office. On the contrary, for high profile cases, the government hires private high-expensive laywers so that they are not accussed of spending appropriately to win cases ...

              •  quality of defense is a concern area ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                i hear reports that no lawyer wants to defend the accussed. however, the quality of defense is usually tilted in favor of the accussed in India. India doesn't have a AG office like US. The government appoints lawyers in case the accussed cannot find one. The government also appoints private (senior, expensive) lawyers to key cases without being restricted to lawyers in AG office ...

                Caste, Ethnicity and religious bias are usually favorable towards the accussed. if they come from lower castes & classes, they get a lot of NGOs to defend them on spurious grounds (not in this case though!)

                The only exception is economic strata .... if the accussed comes from lower economic strata, like in this case, they are usually shown lower levels of mercy than people from upper-middle & rich families. However, due to judicial activism and media highlighting cases where rich are treated in kids-gloves, high profile cases involving the rich in road-accidents & murders don't see leniency any more ...

                Life without parole is a twisted option. The way it works in India is that the court can give life sentence and the accussed gets to go home in 14-15 years. If the lower court gives the accussed a death penalty, 2-3 layers of court, the state government, home ministry, Prime Minister and President's office - all of them have to deny mercy petition to convert death penalty to life w/o parole. Hence, execution is extremely rare. India executed the perpetrator of the 2008 Mumbai attack recently and the execution before was in 2004 for a rapist. Prior to that, there is at least a 10 year gap. There are more than 30 folks awaiting a final decision on their death penalty in India - including the assasisins of ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi & one of the Chief Ministers Besant Singh ...

    •  A small suggestion: if we do indeed abolish (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      capital punishment, we must also re-consider our parole process.  Currently, to receive parole an inmate must confess to his crimes and express contrition and penitence.
      In several cases, this requirement resulted in people unjustly incarcerated serving years beyond their fellows simply because they refused to admit guilt.

      This also brings us to the second point.  We would do well to learn from Norway and invest in vocational, educational and psychological rehabilitation for inmates.  We have one of the largest prison populations, with one of the higher rates of recidivism.  The reason for recidivism in many cases is the inmate, who was jailed for a lack of vocational, educational, psychological skill sets, is released with the same lack of skill sets.  Worse, he is frequently a pariah, unable to find work, and is forced to associate with others in "The Life"      

    •  What is the definition of murder? Is that what the (0+ / 0-)

      state is doing when rendering the death penalty?

      It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

      by auapplemac on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:15:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If murder is wrong , murder is wrong . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnxbrown, quill, wenchacha

    Murdering a murderer is murder .

    If a murderer is locked away such that they can not hurt innocents anymore , innocents are protected , nothing more need be done .

    I once spent a great deal of time thinking about ending a persons life . This person had hit my mother with the claw end of the hammer she had just handed / loaned him , he crushed in her skull and then raped her , left her for dead .
    She did not die . He was found guilty and was locked up .
    When after some years went by I heard he was freed .
    I knew who and what he was , the idea that he was free caused me to think about taking the protection of innocents into my own hands . I decided the penalty for getting caught was not worth the risk . He went on to kill and rape again . If I had taken care of the problem the girl he killed would not have been killed .

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:58:03 AM PST

  •  I'm OK with the death penalty... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...but I have no opinion worth spouting about whether or not India should have it.  Right now it's reserved (by longstanding jurisprudence) for "rarest of the rare" cases to the point where the Home Minister and then the President of India have to personally approve it and usually they don't.  They did recently, for the lone surviving Mumbai attacker, who was executed.  But that's the exception rather than the norm.  

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:26:44 AM PST

  •   Hang them after the trial and convictions. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are hundreds of millions of people who are backward, view women as disposable objects like Kleenex tissues and worse.  This young woman, presumably a middle class person with her boyfriend, fiancee, riding a bus was viewed by lumpen, some criminal elements as an opportunity. She was resented, her life, her happiness was resented  and an opportunity to enjoy something stolen and horrible, violent access to a woman's body and also terrorize the couple was taken and taken brutally.

    India is making a choice here, whether to to defend women as a class, to defend a decent life and resist and oppose mindless useless crimes like this that degrade the entire society.  Or allow them as a safety valve  to an angry and unhappy underclass.

    There will be  a, trial  presumably the perpetrators will be convicted of murder, of aggravated assault of destroying two lives.  They didn't rape to foist off on the woman a baby in the future, they raped as a degradation and   revel, enjoy in their power over her body with extreme violence the act of  making her suffer unto death.

    This case calls for a very public, not a private execution after conviction. The underage boy needs a heavy sentence in jail, his life could be spared as it may not be clear he was the instigator.  So four drops from the gallows.  And a promise these cases will be handled the same way in the future.  The rapists get away with impunity for the most part, there are dozens of rapes in Mubai daily. And the police ignore most of them unless a high ranking woman is involved whose family wants venegeance.

    Let them hang, so others may reflect the rape grace period, the wink, wink, and the indifference of the police and the judges and the legal system is about to change.

  •  I understand the visceral feeling (3+ / 0-)

    of maybe this case should be the case where we hold our noses and say, "maybe the death penalty is OK this time." There are certainly cases I hear about where I feel that way, and would throw the switch myself, I'm so angry.

    However, for justice to be consistent, you have to be consistent in its application.

    I really believe that there need to be "lock the door and throw away the key" sentences for crimes this horrendous. In such cases, natural death by old age in prison would achieve the same end as a death sentence, without all the troubling aspects (the ability to reverse a sentence, if a presumed offender is exonerated.)

    Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

    by Bobs Telecaster on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:47:48 AM PST

    •  balanced answer ... (0+ / 0-)

      but i am still troubled with the basic question: why grant ourselves as citizen an ABSOLUTE right to live when it is not coupled with the RESPONSIBILITY of basic civility to society ...

      why should the Norway killer who mowed down 77 people be allowed access to computer (without internet) and  excercise room and awarded a 21 year imprisonment for the crime that he committed? For his right to live, what responsibility has he been asked in return?

  •  Honestly? I'm not opposed to a death penalty. (0+ / 0-)

    Not in principle.  I do think there are circumstances under which the state should have the right to put one of its citizens to death.

    I am, however, opposed to the use of the death penalty where the justice system is as broken as the one we currently have in the US.

    Sadly, I don't know enough about the justice system in India to say one way or the other.

    •  justice system in india is broken but not for ... (0+ / 0-)

      justice system in india is broken but not for executions. India executed the captured terrorist from the 2008 Mumbai attacks (that resulted in 177 deaths) last year. Before this execution, the last execution was in 2004 of a nightwatchman who raped and killed a mentally retarted child living in the apartment complex.

      Awarding Death penalty is quite common in India; executions are not.

      After the death penalty is awarded, the High Court (equivalent to supreme court of the states) and the Indian Supreme Court (equivalent to SCOTUS) apart from the Home Ministry, Prime Minister's office and President of India have the option of commuting the sentence to life imprisonment. Thus, India today has only 29 people who have been convicted of death penalty and awaiting a final decision on their mercy petition ...

      If anything, the justice system breaks towards the accussed to give him many opportunities in having his death penalty sentence reduced ...

  •  A principle is pointless when it's just easy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jazzizbest, InfiniteThoughts

    It's easy to oppose the death penalty when there is doubt about innocence. Or when the perpetrator is someone who never had a chance in life. Just like it's easy to support free speech for folks we like. A lot harder when it's Westboro Baptist Church.

    But a principle is pointless if we just apply it when it's easy. If the death penalty is wrong, it's wrong.

    Not because these people deserve "mercy". They don't. Eichmann didn't. KKK murderers didn't.

    But because I do not want to descend to their level and say I have the right to decide some people can or cannot live. Some people are not really human and can be killed. It's what the death penalty does to us.

    And while this case is an exception, the death penalty, worldwide, has been used as a weapon of terror against poor and working people. No rich person has ever been executed in the U.S. Even the middle class can usually get a good enough lawyer to strike a deal.

    As Holly Near aptly said, why do we keep killing people who are killling people to show killing people is wrong?

  •  It is a very simple concept.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... the Death Penalty should only be used for the most heinous violent crimes, where the test is not beyond a "reasonable doubt" but is instead...


    In other words, people like Bundy, and Dahmer, and Manson, etc, are executed.

    It is not vengeance, it is not an eye-for-eye, it is simple justice. You have proven beyond any doubt you can't be trusted to continue breathing without the threat of hurting others on a continuing basis. It is your fault you have to go, and so, you have to GO.... in the Tony Soprano sense of the word.

    I would NOT have an exception for the mentally ill, if you are THAT dangerous there is no treatment to fix you, so Aurora Boy, Fort Hood boy, etc all need to go as well.

    I'm no right to life'r, I firmly believe there are people in this world who need to go. People who are simply too dangerous to leave alive. A perfect example is the Blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, what that fuck is he doing still alive is beyond me. But we taxpayers are spending $100K+ per year to keep him alive and plotting.

    Mubarak fucked up beyond comprehension by not just executing the entire docket of "suspects" held and tried in the wake of Saddat's assassination. Among them were...

    ... Rahman, who went on to mastermind Trade Center bombing One and other terrorist acts. M Atta, and other 911 hijackers, and Dr Ashwari AQ mastermind and current AQ #1, who is the number one KILL ON SIGHT target on earth.... sanctioned for death by a dozen governments around the world. And I dare say, at least 2 BILLION fellow citizens of earth concur on his death sentence. Tick Tock.

  •  You are hung up on the idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that opposition to the death penalty is about the rights of the criminal, or about what the criminal deserves. But it's not. Look at the comments above. Nobody is talking about those things. They are talking about whether it is a good thing for the government--the people, acting together--to be in the business of killing citizens.

  •  Revenge isn't good for us (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It may feel good. I'll admit to wanting somebody dead or in permanent fear for their crime. But when I see that sort of blood-lust on others, and it's expressed with such righteousness, I know that is not what I want to be. Tit-for-tat is so tiresome, so endless, so corrosive.

    Revenge is what takes us to war. It fuels the fire.

    What these men did is unspeakable. But I don't want to join them in the depravity of murder. They deserve it; no doubt in my mind. But we don't deserve to become as evil as they.

  •  Some Criminals Deserve Death, but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...many innocents deserve life. If it were possible for the State to restore life to a person who wrongfully dies, would be fine with the State having the power to take the life of one who does not deserve to live.

    So, aside from hot pursuit, immediate defense, etc., not in favor of granting the State the power to take something beyond the power of the State to restore, should a mistake be made.

    Life without parole seems like punishment enough, and meets the requirement that the State protect its citizens from a hard core criminal's likely future crimes.

    "Cause 5 in every 4 just don't amount to nothin' more, so watch the rats go 'cross the floor, and make up songs ' bout bein' poor." F Zappa

    by GearRatio on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:27:09 AM PST

  •  No mercy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have no mercy in my heart for those rapists or others who commit heinous crimes.  And I struggle with it because on the whole I don't quite believe in the death penalty.  It fails as a deterrent.  As retributive vengence, most who looked forward to seeing the death penalty applied end up feeling disappointed because they didn't get the closure they hoped for.    

    Since hearing about this crime and hearing the demands Indians are making for the death penalty, I say 'Let them impose their own justice on those bastards."  

    At the same time I'm too keenly aware of the many who've been released from death row and prison after being exonerated through DNA evidence.

    As regards here in the US I contemplate the kind of punishment that robs heinous criminals such as gang or sadistic rapists of their own free agency entirely - life without parole and mandatory full lobotomy.  

  •  Your poll shows a majority in favor of the DP. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It also is what the women in India are calling for. reason being is the cultural double standard of not dealing fairly with rape victims, of dismissing their plight. The young thugs who attacked the women were secure in the knowledge they would probably not be charged or punished for their crime.

    that is why if they get convicted and receive the death penalty, it should be a public execution for a deterrent effect the awareness these crimes will not be treated lightly in the future.

    There are a number of people responding in these comments who have no clue what the situation is in Mumbai and for women in a caste and stratified culture like India and the very real threat class envy and the patriarchial and superiority complex of even a worthless male towards any female represents.

    Meaning the failures of the justice system to administer justice and deal honestly and fairly is a huge problem. letting these creatures off the hook aggravates the problem, doesn't help in the least.

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