Minister of State for Home says mercy petition of Afzal Guru is pending with president

New Delhi, Nov.21 (ANI): Minister of State for Home Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh said the mercy petition of Afzal Guru, the mastermind behind the December 13, 2001 terror strike on the Indian Parliament, is pending with President Pranab Mukherjee.

Guru was awarded the death sentence by a Delhi court on December 18, 2002, after being convicted for conspiring to attack Parliament, waging war against the country and murder.

Singh said on Wednesday it is unfortunate that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is tweeting over the issue of Afzal Guru, when he knows that the case is already on.

"We have competed one process of terrorism activity that was carried out on 26/11 and our fight against terrorism will continue. Mr. Modi very clearly knows that the case is already on and the mercy petition is hanging with the President, so, I think his tweeting and trying to take away what justice was meted out to Kasab is extremely unfortunate," said Singh in New Delhi.

Modi had tweeted after Kasab's execution, "What about Afzal Guru, who attacked Parliament, our temple of democracy, in 2001? That offense predates Kasab's heinous act by many years."

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) urged the government to exert pressure on the Pakistani Government in the fight against terror, and pressed their demand for swift execution of 2001 Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru.

Singh said hanging Kasab is a big day in the history of the nation.

"It is a triumph of the legal system of our country that they even gave the opportunity to a terrorist to plea against the case. But, I think it is also the victory of fight against terrorism that this country is undertaking and I think it is also will be a closure for those family members, who suffered during 26/11. I think it is a big day in the history," said Singh.

India hanged Kasab, the only militant to have survived the 2008 attacks on the financial capital Mumbai, at the Yerawada Prison in the city of Pune on Wednesday.

In August, the Supreme Court upheld Kasab's 2010 death sentence over the attacks on a string of targets. Nearly 60 people were gunned down in the train station alone. President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his plea for clemency on November 05, although this was not made public until Tuesday night.

Possibly because of the planned execution, India on Tuesday asked Pakistan to postpone a visit this week by its Interior Minister Rehman Malik, saying the dates were "not suitable for us". Malik was due to put the final seal on a deal to ease visa restriction for travellers.

Kasab's execution happened very quickly for India's usually glacial justice system. Three people convicted of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi are still on death row, 21 years after he was killed by a suicide bomb.

Islamabad was informed beforehand about Kasab's execution, said a Pakistani foreign ministry official who asked not to be identified.

Meanwhile, Delhi state chief Sheila Dikshit refused to comment on the execution of Afzal Guru.

"I don't want to say anything on it because this is all a decision with the President of India and the Home ministry," said Dikshit.

The December 2001 attack was one of the most controversial incidents in recent Indian history. India blamed the attack on the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, which it said was backed by Pakistan. Pakistan denied involvement in the attack.

Mohammed Afzal was one of two men sentenced to death. But the punishment for Shaukat Hussain was later reduced to 10 years in jail on appeal. The Delhi High Court upheld the death sentence in 2003 and his appeal was further rejected by the Supreme Court two years later. (ANI)