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Who shot Shahid Azmi? Should it matter?

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The last few days have been sadly violent ones, also for the legal fraternity. But in both cases so far not much is really clear.

Three days before the bomb blast in Pune's German Bakery, criminal lawyer and 26/11 defence counsel Shahid Azmi was shot dead in what appears to have been a targeted assassination.
Legally India
's sincere condolences go out to his family and friends, as well as to the victims of the Pune attacks and their close ones.

Of course, for the papers the Azmi killing has been a perfect story.

A young idealist or "convicted child terrorist" with an alleged "outlaw" past, climbing out of poverty and prison to the top of the respected profession of law to defend alleged terrorists.
Cue a violent murder with options for conspiracy theories aplenty.

However, not much is clear so far, but for the significant emotion involved, particularly now with the untimely Pune attack.

Between three and four attackers (reports conflict there) on Thursday evening fired four shots to Azmi's chest and head from point-blank range after covert phone calls and preparation.

"He was bumped off for being 'anti-establishment' and 'anti-police'", reported DNA, quoting lawyers. The family also apparently blames the police. Then there are the suspicions of mafia involvement and a "patriot" gangster trying to make a name for himself.

The general public is divided.

On one hand there is the age-old antipathy directed at lawyers defending those the public does not deem worthy of a defence (or a fair trial).

In the comments on the Hindustan Times website, one reader writes: "Some body took care of Terror friendly lawyer...Give those guy Padam Bhushan", while another simply says "good job".

"Just deserts" writes another, followed by: "Brilliant. Melt pot trusts a former child soldier and convicted terrorist over the Indian Government and Police. I'll be honest, sleep will come easier to me tonight knowing that this 'man' is no longer at large", on the Times of India site.
Another on the TOI's site takes the opposite angle: "A clear indication of what awaits Ajmal Kasab [Azmi's 26/11 defence brief]. He will never get a fair trial in India."

Further investigations are undoubtedly necessary, as in any murder.
But with details and the motives of the killing so sparse, is it not too early to point fingers and allocate blame?

Surely, whether it was the underworld, shadowy powers up high or someone completely unrelated will make all the difference, as will the reasons of why it happened. 

Then again, the sad risk is that no one will ever truly know and speculation and finger pointing will be all there will be.

Today's new angle in the story is that lawyers are up in arms about the security allocated to advocates acting in dangerous cases.
"We have planned a meeting to discuss this serious issue. Shahid's death demands an urgent look into the security of lawyers who deal with dangerous cases, which at times doesn’t go well with certain section of the society," senior advocate Rohini Salian, who is special public prosecutor in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and general secretary of the City Civil and Sessions Court Bar Association, told the Indian Express.

What are your views? Is the security of lawyers taken too lightly in India?

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Comments

  • Guest
    Anonymous Wednesday, 17 Feb 10

    Well ... I doubt it is possible for lawyers to get security at state expense unless they receive a threat and are asked to drop a case. Prosecutors are always doing a dangerous job in high profile cases and so are defense lawyers in certain cases. But security can hardly be provided. Even if provided, it may not be effective. It is unfortunate that a lawyer was murdered and IF the underlying reason was his defending a person accused of terrorism, its more unfortunate.

    Another thing to add is ... Azmi's past does not matter (unless that lead to his death). What he did as a kid is a thing of the past. But down the line, he studied law and made a career. That's worthy of appreciation.

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