UPA in a pickle over Afzal mercy plea

New Delhi, Oct 3 | Updated: Oct 4 2006, 05:30am hrs
The call for clemency to Muhammed Afzal Guru, sentenced to death in the Parliament attack case, is creating a difficult situation for the UPA government at the Centre.

Family members of the police personnel killed in the December 13 attack have approached President APJ Abdul Kalam on Tuesday to request him not to consider the mercy petition submitted by Afzals family. Political parties are also polarised after the Jammu and Kashmir government submitted a request for mercy to Afzal.

The widows and children of the terrorist attack victims, along with former Youth Congress president and Anti Terrorist Front chairman Maninder Singh Bitta, submitted a plea to the President. It said, A terrorist of his stature who exhibits no humanly concern while committing such heinous crime against humanity does not invite any pardon.

It is ironical to observe that even after years of being convicted for their ghastly and inhuman crimes, the terrorists manage to escape the gallows - mostly due to the support raised by some political parties and social groups who influence the justice system flowing in right direction, the memorandum added.

The BJP has reiterated its stand on the issue and soughtan apology from J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for approaching the Centre with a pleafor mercy for Afzal.

The nation stands shocked to see a chief minister making such a plea for a terrorist. Those who are asking for his pardon should actually apologise to the nation for insulting security personnel who laid down their lives fighting those terrorists, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said.

At the same time, support for the mercy call is also increasing day by day. The Left had said the situation in the valley could become worse after Afzals sentence is carried out . Almost all major political parties in Kashmir favour mercy to Afzal.

Earlier, Afzals wife Tabassum and 7-year-old child, Ghalib, submitted a mercy petition to the Presidents office. They want Afzhals death sentence to be commuted. They are also trying to meet the President.

SAR Geelani, acquitted in the case, maintained that Guru was not involved in the actual attack. He did not kill or injure anyone, Geelani said at a press conference. He also questioned the Supreme Courts verdict that Afzhal must die to satisfy the collective conscience of the country.

Addressing newspersons after meeting Afzal at the Tihar jail later on Tuesday evening, Tabassum told newspersons that the gravity of the offence her husband committed should not be an excuse to deny him a fair trial. Despite several applications, he did not get a lawyer of his choice. He was denied a fair trial, she said.