Guru Decision in Fortnight?

SRINAGAR: The home ministry has processed Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s mercy petition and is ready to put up the file for minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s formal recommendation within the next fortnight, Hindustan Times reported today. 

The move comes as Congress leader Digvijaya Singh joined the BJP-led chorus to hang Guru, who this week completes 11 years in jail, 10 of them as a death row convict. “I am in favour of the execution of capital punishment to Afzal Guru,” PTI quoted Digvijaya as saying.

The BJP that has been campaigning for Guru’s hanging kept up the pressure on the government.

President Pranab Mukherjee had returned about seven mercy petitions including Guru’s file to the home ministry to seek Shinde’s views afresh.

Shinde — also the leader of the House in the Lok Sabha — has made it clear that he hasn’t had time to study Guru’s file due to his preoccupation with Parliament. 

Parliament Disrupted 

Meanwhile Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar forcefully said Thursday that she would not adjourn the house and recalled the sacrifice of the nine who died protecting parliament from a terror attack 11 years ago. But her pleas fell on deaf ears and the house was repeatedly adjourned over demands for the hanging of attack accused Afzal Guru and the coal allotment scandal.

There was ruckus in the Lok Sabha with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena demanding the hanging of Afzal Guru, sentenced to death for the attack on parliament, while Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) members gathered near the speaker’s podium over coal scam.

The house was first adjourned till 11.30 a.m., then till noon and the third time till 2 p.m.

The house observed a minute’s silence to pay tribute to the nine people killed in the Dec 13, 2001 attack. The bedlam began soon after as members of BJP and Shiv Sena gathered near the speaker’s podium shouting slogans demanding that Afzal Guru be hanged.

Meira Kumar’s repeated requests to members to run the question hour were to no avail.

“I will not adjourn the house today. We have just paid tributes to people who gave their lives protecting parliament. Did they give life for this,” she asked sternly.

But this had little impact, and members of both parties continued with the sloganeering, forcing the speaker to first adjourn the house till 11.30 a.m. and later till noon.

As house met again, BSP members gathered near the speaker’s podium over allegations of irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks, forcing another adjournment till 2 p.m.

Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shahsi Tharoor expressed sadness over repeated disruptions.

“Sad that we mourn those who gave their lives to defend this institution of parliament and then betray it daily by disrupting its functioning,” he said on Twitter.

Four people – Afzal Guru, Delhi University professor S.A.R. Geelani, Navjot Sandhu alias Afshan Guru and her husband Shaukat Hussain Guru – were arrested in connection with the parliament attack case.

Geelani and Afshan were let off for lack of conclusive evidence. Shaukat Hussain Guru’s death sentence was commuted to 10 years’ imprisonment and he is now out of jail.

Afzal Guru was sentenced to death Dec 18, 2002 by a trial court, which was upheld by the Delhi High Court Oct 29, 2003. His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court Aug 4, 2005.

His mercy plea is pending, and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has said he will study the file after parliament’s winter session ends Dec 22.

The BJP has from time to time been demanding Afzal Guru’s execution. The demands have become shriller after Mumbai terror attack accused Ajmal Kasab was hanged Nov 23. 

Guru was arrested within days of the December 13, 2001, attack and was convicted.

He and his wife filed mercy petitions to the President days ahead of being sent to the gallows in late 2006. KO Monitoring Desk

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