After the Congress shifted its stand on Afzal Guru who was awarded the death sentence for the 2001 Parliament attack, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has urged the Government to honour the verdict by the Supreme Court.
“The verdict of the judiciary should be honoured,” SP general secretary Amar Singh told reporters on Monday. “It is for the government to reveal as to why it has yet not hanged (Afzal Guru).” Singh’s statement came after Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh asserted that Guru should be hanged. The ruling Congress had until recently been evasive on its stand on Afzal’s death sentence. “The Congress has no sympathies whatsoever for terrorists. Afzal should be hanged. There is no doubt about it,” AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh had said in Madhya Pradesh.
The statement by both the leaders holds significance in view of the fact that Opposition BJP has been campaigning against the ruling Congress, accusing the latter of being soft on terror. The SP has also come under attack from the BJP after it demanded a judicial probe into the Jamia Nagar police encounter that followed serial terror attacks in Delhi. The BJP had called the SP’s demand a “dishonour” to the police officer, Mohan Chand Sharma, who was killed in the operation.
The BJP has also long demanded that Afzal be executed. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi made it one of his pet election lines and L K Advani has said that, if elected, his government would carry out the death sentence if Afzal doesn’t get clemency. The Congress has always retaliated by reminding the BJP of its mistake in releasing terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar in exchange for the crew and passengers of the hijacked IC-814 at Kandahar in 1999.
Amar Singh, meanwhile, continued his tirade against the Government for harassment of minorities across the country pointing to recent incidents of violence in Congress-ruled Assam, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra.”Even during the rule of Congress the minorities are being harassed. Being a supporter of the Government, it is our duty to raise (the issue) in public to sensitise the Government,” said Amar Singh.
Singh also criticized the government for not extending the tenure of Justice Srivastava of Allahabad High Court, who has been hearing the Babri Demolition case. He is likely to raise this issue, along with his demands for implementation of recommendation of Sachar Committee and Sri Krishna Commission in the Congress-SP coordination committee meeting.