New Delhi, Dec 13: Leaders across the political spectrum paid homage to the victims of the Parliament terror attack on the tenth anniversary of the audacious strike today amid calls for speedy execution of the death row convict Afzal Guru.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader L K Advani were among the dignitories who paid floral tributes at the Parliament House where photographs of the watch and ward and security personnel killed in the strike were kept.
Leader of Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee and leaders of opposition in both Houses, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were also present on the solemn occasion which brought back chilling memories of the attack on the citadel of democracy.
Recalling the December 13, 2001 attack, Advani said, “If even one of them had succeeded in entering Parliament House, it would have been horrific.”
As security personnel saluted the martyrs, parliamentarians stood in silence for a minute. A blood donation camp was also organised on the occasion.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “When the entire legal process has been confirmed by the Supreme Court, why the delay in Afzal Guru's (case). How long? Why? I think, the sooner that verdict is executed, it will be the biggest homage to those great warriors.”
Afzal is facing death sentence in the Parliament attack case and his mercy petition is pending with President Pratibha Patil.
All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) chief M S Bitta, who has escaped terrorist strikes in the past, said there should be no delay in execution of Afzal.
“Don't humiliate us...take back the petrol pumps that were given to us, but hang Afzal.” he said at an event where children of some of the victims were present.
The daughter of Kamlesh Kumari, a woman constable with the CRPF who was gunned down during the attack by LeT and JeM terrorists, echoed similar sentiments and demanded that Afzal be hanged as soon as possible. Besides Kumari, the victims included five Delhi Police personnel, two Parliament watch and ward staff and a gardener. All the five terrorists were shot dead.
“When my mother died, I was very young and I hadn't even known my mother that well. Afzal, the person who killed my mother, hasn't been hanged yet, even though the Supreme Court has given the orders. I want him to be hanged as soon as possible,” Kamlesh's daughter said.
Kamlesh's husband Avdesh Singh said, “My daughters were very young when my wife was killed in the attack. Both of them get very emotional every time they see Parliament on the TV or somewhere”. Singh runs a petrol pump in Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh.
Reflecting an unease in the BJP over the Afzal Guru issue, Swaraj said, “We come here every year to remember all those killed in the attack. There are two sides to the issue, one is to pay homage to those killed and the other is to carry out the sentence granted by the Supreme Court on the man responsible for being behind the attack conspiracy.
“Despite the Supreme Court confirming the sentence, the man is still out... The nation wants to know, why are we hesitating in punishing those guilty for the Parliament attack,” she said.
Union Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshi said, “We want quick justice in all matters. This is of course a significant event that we cannot easly forget...neverthless even for such an event there is not much one can do except to hope that our entire system will learn to respond in a much faster manner.”