ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Crime and Punishment?

Paresh Chattopadhyay’s (PC) letter, “Communists and Capital Punishment” (EPW, 2 March 2013), needs an urgent response. Though the main idea in PC’s letter is the critique of capital punishment (the case of the brutal execution of Afzal Guru), the entire letter is devoted to Lenin and Trotsky as alleged propounders of the death penalty. His logic is wrapped up in many layers: the Indian state executes Afzal Guru, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M) – does not condemn this illegal and immoral execution but speaks the same violent and chauvinist language as the Indian state, Lenin and Trotsky did not repeal the death penalty. A sort of cynicism is found here, as if, Lenin and Trotsky have been the originators of the death penalty, maybe even indirectly responsible for Afzal’s execution!

Whilst PC’s letter may seem to be a sort of libertarian response to early Soviet history, he also raises a fundamentally important issue: “where do communists stand in relation to capital punishment?”

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