New Delhi: Amnesty International on Thursday demanded a halt on the execution of four associates of slain sandalwood smuggler Veerapan.
"India must immediately halt the impending executions of four prisoners whose mercy petitions were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee," Amnesty International said in a statement.
The four prisoners -- Gnanprakasham, Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran -- were sentenced to death in a 1993 landmine blast case.
The President's move came just days after the hanging of Afzal Guru -– the second execution in India in less than three months.
"This government has executed more people since November 2012 than in the previous ten years. To continue such a regressive trend would be truly shameful," said G Ananthapadmanabhan, chief executive of Amnesty International India.
"Given the political climate and the two other recent executions, there is a real concern that these four men will be put to death soon. The Indian government must ensure that this does not happen."
The four prisoners were originally sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court in Karnataka set up under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA), but their sentences were converted to death penalty by the Supreme Court in 2004. They had filed mercy petitions in 2004.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty as a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as the ultimate cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
The organisation opposes capital punishment in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.