BJP welcomes ‘delayed’ hanging of Afzal Guru



New Delhi: Questioning the delay in the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, BJP on Saturday said it should have happened much earlier after the confirmation of the capital punishment by the Supreme Court in 2005.

"The capital punishment awarded to Afzal Guru today is a part of legal and judicial process which ought to have taken place much earlier. The attack on the Indian Parliament happened in 2001, that is 12 years ago, which was an attack on India.

"Why this sort of delay inspite of overpowering desire of the people of the country that those who are accused of such a heinous offence ought to be given the capital punishment as affirmed by the highest court of the land. This question would remain important and an answer would have to be found out," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.

He said the Supreme Court had confirmed capital punishment against Afzal Guru in August 2005 and his review petition rejected in January 2007, but the government delayed the action. He also sought adoption of zero tolerance towards terrorism in the country.

Party vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Guru was a conspirator in waging war against the nation and responsible for attack on the temple of democracy (Parliament) in India.

"It is a late decision but in national interest. There was a strong anger across the nation due to the delay (in execution). Despite the late action, people in the country have heaved a sigh of relief and this hanging has given a message to the terrorists and the anti-national forces working against the country," the BJP leader said.

His colleague Rajiv Pratap Rudy welcomed the execution saying it was a "much awaited and much wanted decision".

"This action is delayed. But undoubtedly it is a welcome action" so that the world could see that India is committed against terror and the fight against terror, he said.

Prasad said if one of the terrorists with an AK-47 would have entered Parliament, the lives of top leaders of political parties would have been imperiled or many would have been killed. "This was the severity of the terrorist act," he said.

On the delay in Guru's execution, he said, "This question would remain important and an answer would have to be found out."

Prasad said the nation should rededicate itself and take an unflinching resolve of zero tolerance against terrorism. Seeking to silence those raising the issue of human rights on Guru's execution, the BJP leader reminded them of the human rights of all those killed by terrorists and their patrons from across the border.

"Do the families of those innocents killed have human rights or not. Those brave watch and ward staff who secured the Parliament and secured the lives of the leaders of the country that India remained safe, does their family have any human right or not. This question is equally important," he said.

Rudy said the BJP has always been pressing for strong and prompt action against perpetrators of terror.

"Any action against terror like the hanging of Afzal Guru should be immediate. It cannot be delayed. If the highest court of the land upheld the conviction of Afzal Guru in 2007, thereafter there was no reason that any mercy petition should have been delayed for so long.

"Though delayed, we still feel that the hanging of Afzal Guru was a right action. It has been done and the people of this country have been wanting and waiting for it for a long time," he said.

Guru was convicted of conspiracy in the December 2001 attack on Parliament and his death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005.

On December 13, 2001, five heavily-armed gunmen stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing nine persons.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said though belated, justice has been done in the Parliament attack case after the execution of Afzal Guru.

"For reasons which the government has been unable to explain the execution of Afzal Guru was delayed. But finally the law has taken its own course. Public opinion has compelled the government to act and enforce the law....Though belated, justice has been done," Jaitley said in a statement.

He maintained that "an attack on Indian Parliament was an attack on India" and pointed out that after the incident India had spoken in one voice to condemn the attack.

"India must today, as it did on December 13, 2001 speak in one voice and give a clear message to the world that India is not a soft state and those who attack India, its sovereignty and its institutions, will be held accountable," Jaitley said.

The BJP leader said in Guru's case, all judicial authorities have affirmed his guilt and upheld the death sentence.

"India is a society governed by the rule of law. The investigation by our police agencies is strictly scrutinised by the courts. After the prolonged trial, an appeal to the High Court and finally an appeal to the Supreme Court enabled our judicial system to carefully scrutinise the evidence," Jaitley said.

PTI