'I Never Sought Clemency For Afzal'
31 October 2006
The Times of India
New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday denied he had sought clemency for Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal, but said it was his 'personal view' that life sentence would be more 'rigorous than capital punishment'. Talking to reporters at the book launch 'Jammu' by Parvez Dewan, a former IAS officer, Azad said: 'No politician or the media asked me what was my opinion when everybody was claiming that I had sought clemency for Afzal.' He said during his conversation with the Prime Minister in Chandigarh during a meeting of Chief Ministers of northern states recently, he had briefed Manmohan Singh about the two agitations that were going on in Jammu and Kashmir. One was on demanding increase in the Haj quota from Jammu and Kashmir and the other was for Afzal. 'I never sought clemency for Afzal, but I didn't deny the reports because I had to run a state,' said Azad. 'But I believe that spending one's life sentence in jail is more rigorous a punishment than ending his life in a second.' He refused to speak any more on the issue. A mercy petition by the wife of Mohammed Afzal, who was originally scheduled to be hanged Oct 20, is pending with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Afzal was convicted for his role in helping and sheltering five terrorists who attacked Parliament House Dec 13, 2001, in which 13 people, including the five attackers, were killed and 18 were injured.