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Rediff.com  » News » President unlikely to consider Afzal clemency before October 20

President unlikely to consider Afzal clemency before October 20

Last updated on: October 16, 2006 21:23 IST

It is now almost certain that Mohmmed Afzal Guru, who is facing a death sentence for his role in the Parliament attack case, is not likely to be hanged on October 20 because because President A P J Kalam is unlikely to take any decision on the mercy petition before that date.

The mercy petition was filed by Afzal's wife Tabassum.

According to sources in Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Kalam is in Karnataka and later, he will be visiting the north-east and he is unlikely to take up the issue before October 20.

A source added that the Home Ministry has also not yet sent its opinion on the issue to Rashtrapati Bhavan, only after which the President can consider the matter.

Afzal Guru was convicted for his role in the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament and his execution was to take place on October 20.

However, since the pronouncement of the final verdict by the Supreme Court, the matter has become one of the most debated issues in the country.

Society for the Protection of Detainees and Prisoner's Rights has come out with strong appeal to save his life.

Afzal's supporters believe that he has not been given a fair trial because no prominent or learned lawyer was ready to take up his brief.

Second, only on the basis of circumstantial evidence, he has been awarded the harshest punishment and thirdly, he himself was not involved in planning or execution of the conspiracy.

Afzal himself  had written a letter on 26 January, 2004 to the committee who was helping co-accused SAR Geelani in legal matters that 'the magnitude and gravity of my unknowing, unwilling and unintentional involvement in the Parliament attack case was from the beginning emotionalised and magnified by the police through all possible means due to my helplessness, ignorance of law and inability to manage the suitable legal aid'.

Many experts who have been favouring the clemency for Guru have argued that Kashmiris militants Hashim Kureshi and Amanullah Khan were suspected by the British police in the case relating to the kidnapping and murder of Ravi Mhatre, an Indian diplomat posted at Birmingham, in 1983.

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front to which they belonged, demanded clemency for Kashmiri insurgent Maqbool Bhatt. When the Indian government rejected their demand, the JKLF allegedly murdered Mhatre and threw away his dead body in a Birmingham street.

Both of them were not prosecuted in absence of evidences by the British but they blacklisted them, expelled them from the UK and banned their re-entry.

After many years, Hashim Quereshi has been allowed to return to Kashmir and India has not sought the extradition of Amanullah Khan from Pakistan.

New Delhi has negotiated with Laldenga, the head of the Mizo rebel movement despite his involvement in many  conspiracies in Mizoram. Laldenga, Isaac Swu and Muivah of Nagaland waged war against India with the help of Pakistani and Chinese intelligence. They were not prosecuted.

Isaac Swu and Muivah were even allowed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government to visit New Delhi for talks.

B Raman, a former intelligence officer, who is against the hanging of Afzal said, "These instances cannot be justified under the rule of law concept. Law should have been allowed to take its own course against them. But these instances are understandable when one looks at them through the prism of political wisdom."

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi