New Delhi/Ahmedabad, Nov 21: Calls for speedy hanging of 2001 Parliament attack death row convict Afzal Guru grow louder after the execution of Ajmal Kasab today with opposition BJP 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.
“What about Afzal Guru, who attacked Parliament, our temple of democracy, in 2001 ? That offence predates Kasab's heinous act by many years,” BJP leader and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
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.”