Police families will claim back medals they surrendered in protest

“Saturday morning brought the news that we had been waiting for so long. And though the hanging of Afzal Guru has come over a decade late, it has finally brought some closure to the families of those slain in the 2001 Parliament attack,’’ says Ganga Devi, wife of Delhi Police sub-inspector Nanak Chand, who was among those killed.

“For us it is a case of Der aaye durust aaye (Better late than never),’’ adds Ganga as she sat alongside Jayawati, wife of head constable Vijender Singh, and other family members of those killed in the incident.

Speaking at a press conference organised here by All India Anti-Terrorist Front chairman M.S. Bitta hours after the hanging, Kalpa Devi, wife of the deceased CPWD watch and ward employee Matabar Singh, said: “Just for today we have forgotten our pain and helplessness of having lost a family member in the brutal attack. Today we will not complain that we had to give a bribe to get our petrol pumps and that no politician ever bothered to come and speak with us about how the family is coping after the incident. We are happy today.”

The family members, along with Mr. Bitta, plan to meet President Pranab Mukherjee next week to thank him for the punishment awarded to Afzal. “We will also request the government to return the medals of honour that were awarded to the police officials who died while on duty during the attack,’’ said Ms. Devi. The families of the martyrs surrendered the medals to protest the delay in the hanging of Afzal.

The punishment “restored the faith of the family members in the judicial system,’’ said Sunita Devi, wife of the slain ANI cameraman, said. “This move by the government will also send a strong message to terrorist groups.”

Speaking about the adverse reaction of rights groups and political parties to the hanging of Afzal, Mr. Bitta said: “I would request everyone to stop indulging in petty politics on the issue. Afzal was given a fair trial and he has been punished for his crime.”

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