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After Kasab hanging, demand for quick execution of Afzal

Last updated on: November 21, 2012 20:15 IST

Soon after 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab's execution, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday raised questions about the fate of 2001 Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru.

"What about Afzal Guru, who attacked Parliament, our temple of democracy, in 2001 ? That offence predates Kasab's heinous act by many years," Modi tweeted.

Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/11 attack, was hanged at the Yerawada Jail in Pune at 7.30 am on Wednesday.

Guru, whose mercy petition is pending with the President was sentenced to death much before in 2004.

The home ministry had recommended in August 2011, to then President Pratibha Patil that Guru, who has remained a death row prisoner in the Tihar Jail for the past seven years be swiftly executed. But the issue has been pending for years and has been a subject matter of intense political controversy.

Guru was convicted for conspiracy in the December 2001 Parliament attack and the order of his death penalty was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2004. The sentence was scheduled to be carried out on October 20, 2006. However, Guru's execution was stayed following a mercy plea filed by his wife.

Calls for speedy hanging of Afzal Guru grew louder with the Bharatiya Janata Party leading the charge.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh also wanted the government to "expedite" the decision on the issue of Afzal Guru, who was sentenced to death in 2004.

President Pranab Mukherjee, meanwhile, returned seven mercy petitions, including that of Guru, for consideration of the Union home ministry.

Official sources said it was a normal procedure for the President to refer all pending mercy petitions for consideration to a new home minister after he takes charge.

Since Sushilkumar Shinde took charge as a home minister on August 1, the seven mercy petitions, including that of Guru, were sent to him for consideration, they said.

Shinde himself refused to say anything on when a decision on Guru would be taken, hours after the operation to execute the lone surviving Pakistani gunman in the Mumbai attack was carried out in secrecy.

On Kasab's hanging, BJP President Nitin Gadkari said it had been delayed and asked why Guru had not been sent to the gallows yet.

"Kasab has been hanged. But it has taken a lot of time. I want to ask the UPA government why Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru has not been hanged even 10 years after the incident.... Will this government implement the Supreme Court verdict on Afzal Guru. This government should clarify," Gadkari said at a rally in Delhi.

He also accused Congress of doing vote bank politics.

Welcoming the execution of Kasab, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh hoped the government would now pursue the case against the handlers in Pakistan as also expedite the decision on Guru.

"I welcome it. Now the government of India should pursue the case against the handlers in Pakistan. They should expedite the decision on Afzal Guru," Singh said. Seven people were killed in the Parliament attack during which five militants were also eliminated

The Afzal issue has been hanging fire for years and a subject matter of intense political controversy.

Welcoming the execution of Kasab by describing it as "a correct step", Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said Guru should also be executed.

"What should have happened has happened," Parrikar told PTI in Panaji.

"The Centre has taken a correct step, but what about Afzal Guru?" he said, adding that those who work against the nation cannot be treated like guests.

"Government finally had the courage (to hang Kasab). Now they should also do it for Afzal Guru," he commented.

A group of Shiv Sena workers while raising 'Vande Mataram' slogans outside the Yerawada jail hailing the hanging of Kasab, demanded that similar justice be meted out to Guru.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain demanded that Guru be hanged soon to send across a strong message to the terrorists and instill a sense of fear in them.

Smita Salaskar, wife of slain encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar who fell victim to the bullets of terrorists during the Mumbai carnage, hoped Guru would also be "executed soon."

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