Death penalty amounts to barbarism: Habibullah

New Delhi: Terming capital punishment as an act "reminiscent of barbarism", National Minorities Commission Chief Wajahat Habibullah has said he was against the idea of death penalty even for people like Afzal Guru, Rajiv Gandhi assassins and Devender Pal Singh Bhullar.

"I am personally against the idea of death penalty. That is principally because I am also a Buddhist. For me depriving a human being, however, evil he is, by an act of state is reminiscent of barbarism," Habibullah told PTI here.

Asked whether the hanging of people like Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, Rajiv Gandhi killers and Khalistani terrorist Bhullar could hurt the sentiments of minorities in the country, Habibullah said he does not support the idea of taking someone`s life even as a punishment for any crime.

"I would not support the idea of death penalty. Rajiv Gandhi was a very dear friend of mine but he is gone. He cannot come back. Is taking another life would help in anyway? We know that his daughter went and visited those people (Rajiv`s killers) in jail," he said.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had recently said that the hanging of Guru could lead to rise in militancy in the state.

Distancing himself from the views expressed by Abdullah, Habibullah said, "I would not really like to comment unnecessarily on this with regard to what Omar had said, but I would like to say that I am personally against the idea of death penalty."

Observing that even Islamic Law, which permits death penalty, encourages the family of the aggrieved to forgive, he said that having entered into 21st century, the country must rise upto a few things. "In India we are very proud to say it is the oldest surviving civilisation in the world, and my idea is, we are proud of it because of the inputs of people like Gautam Buddha and Mahavir who spoke for non-violence and forgiveness. That is our civilisation," he said.