Abolish capital punishment, India urged

New York, Aug 22 (IANS) The Indian government should stop impending executions and renew its moratorium on capital punishment, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

On Aug 14, the Supreme Court of India rejected the appeal for clemency of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, who was sentenced to death in 2001 for a 1993 bomb attack that killed nine people.

"In the past year, India has made a full-scale retreat from its previous principled rejection of the death penalty," Human Rights Watch said.

"The government should instead declare an official moratorium, commute all existing death sentences to life in prison, and then work towards abolishing the death penalty once and for all."

Human Rights Watch urged the Indian government to demonstrate its commitment to international human rights obligations by halting all executions starting with Bhullar.

It also told New Delhi to immediately adopt a moratorium on death penalty and abolish the death penalty permanently in domestic law.

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as an inherently irreversible, inhumane punishment.

An eight year unofficial moratorium on executions in India ended with the hanging on Nov 21, 2012 of Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani convicted of multiple murders in the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai.

On Feb 9, 2013, Mohammad Afzal Guru, convicted for the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, was executed.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has rejected 11 clemency pleas since he took office, confirming the death penalty for 17 people.