The following is a declaration of innocence by Prof. Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, who was sentenced to death in 2001 for a 1993 bombing on the sole basis of a coerced confession signed with his thumb print.
I am innocent but I’m being sent to the gallows. I have always maintained my innocence except for when they put my thumb on a piece of paper while I was being tortured. Later, they called it my confession. As a mechanical engineer and college lecturer, I have never signed anything with a thumb print.
This judiciary, all the way to the Supreme Court, which we were taught in school is the highest seat of justice in India, has sentenced me to death on the basis of that forced thumb print.
I have spent some 20 years in prison for a crime I didn’t commit. I have been kept in various forms of confinement, often in solitary, not seeing a single person for days and weeks at a time. Or maybe it was months. I don’t even know.
My doctors tell me I have various mental illnesses. During the moments when my mind is in my control, I let it soar above my body, which I don’t recognize, and above my hospital bed or my prison cell. When I look at things from high above, it makes me sad to see this system in which people have lost hope.
If there was hope in the system, people would ask about that forced thumbprint. If there was hope, people would ask how my wife of three months basically became a living widow. If there was hope, people would ask about the police vendetta due to which my father, uncle, and friend were abducted and never seen again after being taken into a police station in Chandigarh, the City Beautiful. If there was hope in the system, people would unite to punish those guilty of extrajudicial killings, not sit by idly while the innocent are executed.
When I look at what lies before me, I feel sad and disappointed for the future. Whenever an innocent life is taken, it is an injustice for humanity and it breeds further violence. I don’t want to see my life as part of such a legacy. They are forcing my legacy to be part of a cycle of violence. They are forcing the people’s legacy to be of a cycle of violence.
Where the courts have failed, and where the leaders have failed, I ask the people to stand up and ask for justice. Let’s reclaim our legacy and build a better and a truly just future.