PDP backs move; NC and Congress non-committal

An Independent MLA has moved a resolution in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly seeking clemency for Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru.

Speaker M.A. Lone has said the House will discuss the resolution during the session starting on September 26.

The Opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) has decided to support the move, while the ruling National Conference and the Congress are non-committal. Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party chairman Bhim Singh has said the “Assembly cannot interfere with the process of law.”

Inspiration from T.N.

“Let the House resolve that Afzal Guru be granted amnesty, on humanitarian grounds, against the death sentence granted to him by the Supreme Court of India for his alleged involvement in the October 13, 2001 attack on Indian Parliament,” reads the resolution moved by S.A. Rasheed, Independent MLA from north Kashmir's Langate constituency.

Mr. Rashid told journalists here that he expected all parties to support his resolution. Stating that he was inspired by the Tamil Nadu Assembly passing a resolution seeking commutation of death sentence of three persons convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Independent MLA said: “The Assembly should in reality reflect the aspirations of the people and those are that people who want he [Guru] should not be executed.” The Assembly should not be confined to fix the rates of “potatoes and onions.”

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti told The Hindu: “We have already appealed to the President to grant clemency to him [Guru] when the Home Ministry had forwarded the case to her.” Her spokesman Naeem Akhtar wanted Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is the leader of the House, to move the resolution so that it was passed. Mr. Akhtar referred to Mr. Abdullah's tweet about Guru and said, “he started this and he should take it to logical end.”

The NC and the Congress, however, are tight-lipped and no leader was ready to comment on the issue.

But, Mr. Abdullah stood his ground on his tweet that had the J&K Assembly passed a resolution against the death sentence given to Guru as was done by the Tamil Nadu Assembly for the killers of Rajiv Gandhi, the reaction would not have been as muted as it was now.

This had drawn a sharp response from the BJP, which dubbed Mr. Abdullah's comments “unfortunate.”

“Double standards”

Speaking to a news channel, Mr. Abdullah said he stood by his comments on Guru and the response to his tweet was just a reflection of the double standards on Kashmir.

Hitting back at the BJP, the Chief Minister asked why the party was not burning effigies of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for seeking clemency in the Devinder Singh Bhullar case. The President had rejected the amnesty of Bhullar, who is on death row.

Bhim Singhs plea

Meanwhile, Dr. Bhim Singh had asked the Speaker not to admit the resolution. “The resolution as it reads is not admissible for the reason that it starts: ‘Let the House resolve'. The word let is not in the appropriate form.”

He said: “Secondly, the resolution further adds that, ‘His alleged involvement in the attack on Parliament', which is tantamount to defiance of the final verdict of the Supreme Court of India. The word alleged cannot be accepted as part of valid resolution.”

In his letter to Speaker, Dr. Singh said: “Finally this matter does not pertain to the State of J&K. Acts done outside the State of J&K do not fall within the competence of the Legislative Assembly of J&K. Besides, the matter is pending before the honourable President of India and therefore the Legislative Assembly cannot interfere with the process of law.”