New Delhi: Two days after the hanging of Afzal Guru, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Monday denied allegations that the centre had been “selective” in executing the man convicted of planning the 13 December 2001 attack on Parliament.
On Sunday, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned why Afzal Guru had been hanged when the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Punjab chief minister Beant Singh still haven’t been executed.
Shinde drew a distinction between those cases and that of Guru, whose hanging has sparked unrest in the Sopore district of Kashmir, to which the convict belonged.
“The cases of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers and assassin of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh are different from Afzal’s case. The other cases are still pending before the Supreme Court,” Shinde told reporters.
Three people have died and many others reported to have been injured in clashes with security personnel in Sopore since Saturday. Many others are also reported to have been injured during the protests. Many parts of Srinagar remained under curfew.
Abdullah has been critical of the centre for keeping Guru’s family in the dark about the hanging and for not informing his relatives that their mercy petition had been rejected by the government. His father Farooq Abdullah, a federal cabinet minister, has sought to defend the execution on the grounds that it had been done as per the law.
Had the government revealed its intention in advance, someone would have moved the courts against the hanging, said the home minister.
Asked why the execution was kept secret, if the death penalty is to act as a deterrent, he said police investigations and intelligence operations cannot be done in the open.
“Everything cannot be open and transparent. If that is done, the country will not run,” Shinde said.
The home minister dismissed allegations by Guru’s family members that they hadn’t been informed in time about the hanging. The family said it only received a letter written by Tihar jail authorities on Monday.
“We followed the law and everything was done under the jail manuals. I had signed the file on 3 February and it was then sent to the home secretary and to jail officials for execution of the orders,” Shinde said, adding the government will consider the family’s request to visit Guru’s grave in Tihar jail.
Meanwhile, the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister for adopting a “sympathetic” attitude towards Guru.
“Omar Abdullah has ended up sympathizing with Afzal Guru. He describes him as a young man of 43, forgetting that six of the nine who were killed in the Parliament attack were younger than Afzal. More serious is his claim that the new generation in Kashmir will identify with Afzal Guru,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
“BJP...is sure that Kashmiri youth today identifies themselves with cricketer Parvez Rasool and IAS topper Shah Faisal and not with a terrorist like Afzal Guru,” he said.
PTI contributed to this story.