Political parties on Saturday said justice has been done with the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru even as BJP questioned the delay in carrying out the death sentence.
Both Congress and the BJP said the hanging of Guru, a Jaish-e-Mohammed militant, would send a message to terror outfits that India would not tolerate terrorism.
“The law has taken its course. The Parliament attack convict has been hanged,” Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi said reacting to the execution of Guru in Tihar Jail in New Delhi.
“Justice has been done,” another Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit said.
Questioning the delay in Guru’s hanging, BJP said it should have happened much earlier after the confirmation of the capital punishment by the Supreme Court in 2005.
“The capital punishment awarded to Afzal Guru today is a part of legal and judicial process which ought to have taken place much earlier. The attack on the Indian Parliament happened in 2001, that is 12 years ago, which was an attack on India.
“Why this sort of delay inspite of overpowering desire of the people of the country that those who are accused of such a heinous offence ought to be given the capital punishment as affirmed by the highest court of the land. This question would remain important and an answer would have to be found out,” BJP Chief Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi.
In Chennai, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the decision to hang Guru was not based on political considerations.
“The process of Article 72 unfolded and once the mercy petition was rejected by the president (Pranab Mukherjee) the law took its own course,” Mr. Tewari told reporters.
He was referring to the article of the constitution under which a President can grant pardon or commute the sentence of any convict.
Mr. Alvi said the capital punishment to Afzal Guru would send a message to all terror outfits that India will not tolerate terror.
“We have sent a message to the world that we cannot tolerate terrorism at any cost. Anybody committing any acts of terror will be punished. People of our country and government have zero tolerance for terrorism”, he said.
Taking a swipe at the BJP, Mr. Alvi said terrorists released by the NDA government during the Kandahar plane hijack episode were those who planned attack on Parliament.
BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “Though delayed, we still feel that the hanging of Afzal Guru was a right action. This action is delayed. But undoubtedly it is a welcome action.”
CPI(M) said the law of the land has taken its course as far as attack on the Indian Parliament is concerned.
“I think, the law of the land with all its provisions has finally been completed as far as the Afzal Guru case and the attack on the Indian Parliament is concerned. The issue which had been lingering for the past 11 years has finally completed its due course,” CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said.
In Srinagar, People’s Democratic Party expressed disappointment over Guru’s hanging, saying the “sensitivities” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir should have been taken into account before taking the decision.
PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar also criticised Guru’s burial inside the prison complex in New Delhi, saying the body should have been given to his family in Kashmir.
The All Party Hurriyat Conference announced a four-day mourning on the death of Guru.
“We call on people to observe four-day mourning on the hanging of Guru. A complete shutdown will be observed over the mourning period,” Hurriyat Conference spokesman Shahidul Islam said in Srinagar.
Shiv Sena, another party strident in its demand for Guru’s execution, welcomed his hanging, saying the government showed “courage” in taking this decision.
“The government showed courage in hanging Guru,” Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said in Mumbai but rued the delay in the process.
Mr. Raut said when Pranab Mukherjee had met Shiv Sena chief late Bal Thackeray during his campaign for the Presidential elections, the Sena supremo had urged him not to grant clemency to Guru.
Our Staff Reporter from Patna adds:
Reacting to the hanging of Afzal Guru, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Saturday that act was inevitable, although delayed.
“It is a question of a criminal act. The matter was kept pending for long. With the apex court’s sentence, justice eventually prevailed. There is a feeling among the common people that this should have happened earlier,” Mr. Kumar said.
Mr. Kumar runs a coalition government in Bihar with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been demanding Afzal Guru's hanging.