On the occasion of the ninth anniversary of Parliament attack, the government and the opposition were locked in a war of words on the hanging of terrorist Afzal Guru.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj raised the pitch asking the country wants to know why Guru has not been hanged despite the Supreme Court confirming his punishment but Home Minister P. Chidambaram countered it by saying he had explained the exact status of the terrorist’s case several times.
“The country wants to know that Supreme Court has pronounced punishment to those guilty of Parliament attack, and the second thing is that it has also confirmed their punishment, then why is the government silent on it?,” she asked.
Ms. Swaraj said the government should act on giving punishment to the convicts so that not only the family members of the attack victims, but the entire country gets relief.
Mr. Chidambaram said he did not want to join issue with the opposition party as today was a solemn occasion when nine people lost their lives when terrorists attacked Parliament nine years ago.
“I don’t want to enter into a verbal quarrel with BJP. Either they are dense or pretend to be deaf,” he said.
The Home Minister said he had explained several times the status of country’s death convicts who had sent their mercy petitions to the President.
He said mercy petitions of death convicts in 14 cases were sent to the President during the NDA government, yet none was decided and when his predecessor Shivraj Patil was in office, he sent the original 14 cases plus 14 more cases, of which two were decided.
“After I took over, at the request of the President, all the cases have been reviewed and are being resubmitted one by one. The President has already passed orders in five or six cases. Now, therefore, the record is very clear, zero in six years, two in about four-and-half years and I think five or six in two years,” he said.
Mr. Chidambaram said while processing the mercy petitions of death convicts, the government has to follow some principles and some orders.
“Every single case is being submitted in the serial order in which it appears in the list that was earlier submitted to the President. And I think, respect of the office of President requires that we accept a fact that it has been submitted to the President and we will await the President’s decision,” he said.