President Patil to take decision on Afzal Guru's mercy petition: Sheila Dikshit

      Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday said President Pratibha Devisingh Patil would take the decision on the mercy petition of Afzal Guru, an accused in the Parliament attack case. Dikshit said the file pertaining on the Afzal Guru case had been sent to both the Ministry of Home Affairs and the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, and added that their replies are awaited. "All orders given by the Supreme Court will be followed. However, at the same time, Guru's wife has moved a mercy petition to the President of India. The file related to the case is with the Home Ministry and the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi," said Dikshit. "Clearly, I am not in a position to decide Guru's fate. Then what comment can I give?" she told the media persons, while attending a blood donation camp organized to commemorate the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday protested against the delay by the Delhi Government in giving its opinion on the mercy petition moved by Afzal Guru, to show that this case was one of terrorism alone and had nothing to do with any community in particular. Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly V.K. Malhotra also criticised the Delhi Government for delaying the hanging of Afzal Guru due to vote bank politics. Despite dithering by the government on the question of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's hanging, Congress on Wednesday made it clear that it favoured such a step at an early date. "If the Supreme Court convicted Afzal Guru in the Parliament attack case giving him death sentence, there should be no problem in hanging him," party general secretary Digvijay Singh. Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi had said the concerned authorities within the government should decide the matter. Guru was awarded death sentence by a Delhi court on December 18, 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy to attack Parliament on December 13, 2001, waging war against the country and murder. Delhi High Court upheld the death sentence on October 29, 2003 and his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court two years later on August four, 2005. Following this, Afzal filed a mercy petition with the President, who forwarded it to Union Home Ministry for its comments. The Union Home Ministry had sent the file to Delhi Government's Home Department for its comments, as per the laid out procedure. The 2001 Indian Parliament attack, led to the death of a dozen people; five terrorists, six policemen and a civilian. It also caused increased tensions between India and Pakistan resulting in the 2001-2002 India-Pakistan standoff. On that day, a group of gun-and grenade-wielding terrorists who stormed the seemingly impregnable Parliament House premises, were stopped dead in their tracks by security men as the nation watched in disbelief.

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