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Delhi parliament plotter execution not political: minister

Publication Date : 12-02-2013

 

The Indian government yesterday asserted that Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s execution was not a political decision, but strictly a legal one, amid charges that it was in a race with the opposition BJP (Indian People's Party) for competitive jingoism.

Dismissing Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s suggestion that the execution of Afzal Guru was “selective”, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said at a press conference that comparing Afzal’s execution with the cases of the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Punjab chief minister Beant Singh would be unfair as the latter two are stuck at two different legal procedural stages. 

The minister also said the government would seriously consider the request by Afzal’s family that they be allowed to offer prayers at his grave in Tihar jail.

In the cases of Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh’s killers, Shinde said, the cases are still pending in the Supreme Court  as after rejection of their mercy petitions, cases were filed in the Madras High Court and Supreme Court, respectively.

“These cases are still under consideration before the judiciary. Hence, it (Afzal) is different from these cases,” he said, while responding to questions on why the government displayed a tearing hurry in executing Afzal while the killers of Gandhi and Singh were given options.

The J&K chief minister had said yesterday that it will have to be proved to Kashmiris and to the world that the execution of Afzal Guru was not a “selective” one.

If an attack on Parliament was an attack on the symbol of democracy, was not an attack on a chief minister and former prime minister an attack on democracy, Abdullah asked. 

Shinde said the decision to execute Afzal was not political but done according to the law of the land. Usually, the president signs on the mercy petition and the home ministry sends it for execution. “Even in the other cases, the files were sent to the states concerned. There, they (convicts) went for appeal,” he said.

Giving the sequence of events leading to the controversial execution on Saturday, the home minister said he had informed Abdullah on Friday night.

“That was the first time I told him that we are doing it tomorrow morning,” he said. Justifying the hush-hush manner in which the execution was carried out, Shinde said the issue was sensitive and secrecy had to be maintained.

Shinde, who faced a volley of questions about why Afzal’s family was kept in the dark about the hanging, said informing the family was the job of the prison authorities. The home ministry’s role ended with passing on to the jail authorities the presidential order rejecting the clemency petition.      

 When asked why the execution was done in secrecy if death penalty was to act as a deterrent, he said police investigations and intelligence operations cannot be done in the open. If that is done, he said, the country cannot be run. He added that there was nothing unusual about the state maintaining secrecy on sensitive issues. The home minister also dubbed as baseless the theory that to offset his “Hindu terror” remark, haste was shown in executing Afzal.

Fifty-one hours after Afzal Guru was hanged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, his wife finally received the official intimation yesterday that he was being executed. The letter, sent by the office of the Superintendent, Central Jail No.3, said Guru’s mercy plea has been rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee and that his hanging was fixed for 8am on February 9.

The letter dated Feb 6, 2013, was received by Guru's wife Tabassum at 11am yesterday. “The petition of the convict Shri Mohd Afzal Guru s/o Habibullah has been rejected by the Honorary President of India. “Hence the execution of Mohd Afzal Guru s/o Habibullah has been fixed for 09-02-2013 at 8am in Central Jail No.3. For your information and for further necessary action,” the letter sent by speed post said.

Hours before he was executed, Afzal penned his last letter to his wife, jail officials said. The letter, written in Urdu, was posted on Saturday, but is yet to reach his wife.

With reports from PTI

 

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