Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Those pleading against the hanging of Mohammad Afzal, convicted in the Parliament House attack case, were acting against public feelings and tacitly boosting the morale of terrorists, the Bharatiya Janata Party said here on Saturday. It criticised "people like Arundhati Roy" for doing the same.

Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar was commenting on Ms. Roy's plea against Afzal's hanging in the cover story of a news magazine. He said he was not impressed with her marshalling facts from judgments to show the clear discrepancies in the prosecution case. "She has taken out bits and pieces from different judgements while neglecting the basic fact of Afzal's complicity in the case," Mr. Javadekar said.

"Subversive" causes

A senior party leader felt that Ms. Roy was "always taking up every subversive cause" and in this case her defence of Afzal was "not in the interests of the country."

The BJP has been demanding the "immediate" implementation of the death sentence after rejecting the mercy petition by Afzal's family members. It charged that three of the four main political parties in Uttar Pradesh Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party wanted to ensure that the mercy petition was not taken up, and the execution postponed till after the Uttar Pradesh elections due early next year.

Poll campaign

Party functionaries claimed that the Afzal issue was "selling" well in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP said it would take up the issue in a big way in its poll campaign as part of the larger national security issue. Recently, the party announced its second phase of a countrywide agitation with "hang Afzal" as its centrepiece.

Mr. Javadekar said while no one could object to a debate whether capital punishment should or should not be in the statute books, defending a person found guilty in the Parliament House attack was unacceptable.