No urgency to dispose of Afzal’s clemency petition: Congress

June 12th, 2008 - 12:37 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) The Congress indicated Wednesday that there was no urgency to dispose of the clemency petition of Mohammed Afzal Guru, who has been sentenced to death for the 2001 parliament attack. “Mohammed Afzal’s petition is the 27th one,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari told reporters here.

He was reacting to the demand of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to hang Afzal by dismissing his clemency petition now before President Pratibha Patil.

The BJP’s remarks came after Afzal, in an interview to IANS, called for a swift decision on his mercy petition.

Tiwari said 15 clemency petitions had been pending since 1997 and asked why the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) did not deal with them when it was in power.

He also objected to the BJP’s allegation that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had delayed Afzal’s hanging to appease Muslims.

“It is an insinuation” against the Muslim community, Tiwari said.

In 2004, the Supreme Court convicted Afzal for his role in the terror attack on the parliament building and upheld his death penalty. All five attackers, six policemen and a civilian were killed in the attack.

Afzal, lodged in Tihar jail here, told IANS last week: “I don’t think the UPA government can ever reach a decision. The Congress party has two mouths and is playing a double game.

“I really wish L.K. Advani (of BJP) becomes India’s next prime minister as he is the only one who can take a decision and hang me. At least, my pain and daily suffering would ease then,” he said.

“Life has become hell in the jail. I requested the government to take an immediate decision over my sentence just two months ago. I don’t wish to be part of the living dead,” Afzal said.

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