Mercy plea of Afzal Guru hangs fire

Delhi govt sends rectified file on convict to Lt Governor

Mercy plea of Afzal Guru hangs fire

Afzal GuruThe Delhi government on Wednesday once again sent the file related to Afzal’s clemency petition to Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna after incorporating the “minor clarifications” that Khanna had asked for on Tuesday.

The clarifications sought were on the Delhi government’s views on the mercy-plea of the man, whom the Supreme Court had sentenced to death for masterminding the attack by Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists almost nine years back.

 All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesman Abhishek Singhvi declined to comment on the issue in a routine news conference in the party headquarters. “There is no need to comment.... It is outside our purview,” said Singhvi, when the journalists asked for the party’s views on Afzal’s clemency plea.

But AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh told journalists that the death sentence of Afzal should be carried out at the earliest.

“The SC has given him the death sentence for the kind of crime he has committed. It should be done at the earliest,” said Singh.

His remark was in contrast not only to the official cautious position of the Congress but also to the views of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who said that Afzal was like any other convict on the death row and the rulebook could not be thrown away to fast-track the decision on his clemency-petition or his execution.

Singh is also known to have differences with Chidambaram on the government’s policy to tackle the growing Left extremism across the country.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, too, said that law should be allowed to take its own course in the case of Afzal, a Kashmiri.

Abdullah, whose National Conference is a constituent of the ruling UPA at the Centre, said that any convict on death row had every right to knock on multiple doors, including that of the President’s.

The Congress government in Delhi had recommended that the mercy petition of Afzal should be rejected, but with a rider that the law and order situation in the National Capital Territory should be closely examined before sending him to the gallows. The BJP lashed out at the Delhi government for expressing such a concern.

“The government has abused the patriotism of crores of Muslims of India,” said BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

“Afzal is a terrorist responsible for violence in India. Both Hindus and Muslims want him hanged immediately,” added Naqvi.

A senior official in Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s office cited Article 72 of the Constitution to point out that state government’s opinion was not necessary to take a decision on the clemency plea of a convict on death row. “In Delhi, we don’t have even law and order powers with us,” he said.

He added that it was up to the Centre to decide the issue.

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