The controversial hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru had been carried out for “political reasons” by the UPA government which had informed him only hours before, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah said today.
Out for a dinner with his sister at a Delhi restaurant, Omar received a call from the then Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde informing him that he had signed the papers for Guru to be hanged early next morning and asking him to make law and order arrangements.
Even as a last minute effort, Omar told PTI, “I asked the Home Minister whether he was sure that nothing can be done. He said no as he had signed the paper and warrant has been issued and asked me to deal with the implications.”
Pointing out that the cases of assassins of Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh had been handled differently, he said, “the fact is whether we like it or not he was hanged for political reasons. It’s a fact.”
“I had said I will not pass judgement on it until I see how Government handles other cases… I have seen other cases. Look how they handled assassins of Beant Singh and Rajiv Gandhi and look how they jumped this guy up the queue.
“Clearly what other conclusion can you arrive at other than this that they wanted to deny Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) another handle to beat them with in the general elections and, therefore, the easiest two people to be hanged were Ajmal Kasab because he was a foreign national and Afzal Guru. Whether I like it or not but they did it,” he said.
Guru, who was at serial number 28 in the list of condemned prisoners, was hanged on February 9, 2013. A controversy broke out as his family got news of his hanging on television.
Omar, working President of National Conference which lost power in the December, 2014, elections, termed the Guru issue a ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over him, saying he had been apprising the Centre from time to time about the implications of Guru’s execution.
“The Afzal Guru execution was something that was discussed all through my tenure. Because we knew it was like a sword of Damocles hanging over us. So from time to time the implications of it were conveyed to the Government of India both to Mr P Chidambaram and to Mr Shinde,” he said.
The implications were always conveyed to the Centre but the concerns multiplied when Kasab, lone survivor of the terrorist team which created mayhem in Mumbai on 26/11, was hanged, he said.
“The general feeling was this that once they have done this, Guru is going to be next and I did place my reservations on record at the time as to what the implications of this would be,” the former Chief Minister said, adding that he was “told that a decision hasn’t been taken but it is being contemplated”.