Guruís hanging was not selective: Shinde

Guruís hanging was not selective: Shinde

11 February 2013
The Daily Excelsior


New Delhi: Dismissing Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's suggestion that the execution of Afzal Guru was 'selective', the Centre today said the cases of killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh were different. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Afzal's execution was not a political decision but done according to rules. 'In the cases of Rajiv Gandhi and the Chief Minister, the cases are still pending in Supreme Court. After rejection (of the mercy petitions) cases were filed in the Madras High Court and Supreme Court. 'These cases are still under consideration before the judiciary. Hence it (Afzal) is different from these cases,' he told a press conference. He was responding to questions why the Government showed tearing hurry in executing Afzal Guru while the killers of Gandhi and Singh were given options. Omar also had said yesterday that it will have to be proved to Kashmiris and to the world that the execution of Afzal Guru is not a 'selective' one. Omar had asked if attack on Parliament was an attack on symbol of democracy, is an attack on Chief Minister and former Prime Minister not an attack on democracy. To another question, Shinde said the decision to execute Afzal was not political but done according to rules. Usually the President signs on the mercy petition and the Home Ministry send it for execution. 'Even in the other cases, the files were sent to the States concerned. There they (convicts) went for appeal,' he said. Giving the sequence of events leading to the controversial execution on Saturday, the Home Minister said he had informed Omar on Friday night. 'That was the first time I told him that we are doing it tomorrow morning.' Justifying the hush-hush manner in which the execution was carried out, he said the issue was sensitive and secrecy had to be maintained. Shinde, who faced a volley of questions about why the family was kept in the dark, said according to the jail manual the prison authorities must have informed them. When a reporter asked why the execution was done in secrecy if death penalty was to act as a deterrent, he said police investigations and intelligence operations cannot be done in open. 'If that is done, the country will not run.' Asked about the possibility of retaliation as threatened by some militant groups, the Home Minister said the Government has to be vigilant about it. To a question about the reported illegal detention of newspaper journalist Iftikhar Geelani, the Home Minister said that he had arrived today only from Meghalaya and 'I will enquire into it now.' Geelani was detained at his father-in-law and separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's house here on the day of hanging. He was, however, later allowed to go. To a question whether getting a reprieve for death row convict Sarabjeet Singh in Pakistan in the wake of Afzal and Ajmal Kasab's execution, Shinde said 'I have taken up this issue with Interior Minister of Pakistan.' Asked about the non execution of a death row convict whose mercy plea has been rejected by the President, he said 'that matter is also in the court.' Asked as to whether any action will be taken against JKLF leader Yaseen Malik for sharing dais with Lashker-e-Taiba Chief Hafeez Saeed while sitting on a hunger strike in Pakistan, he said 'I will look into the case.' Shinde said the Government will consider any request by the family of Afzal Guru to visit his grave inside the Tihar jail here where he was buried after his hanging on Saturday. 'If they want to go (to the grave), it can be considered,' Shinde said. The family of 43-year-old Afzal has expressed a desire to offer at least 'fathiah namaz' (prayer at the grave) and take his belongings. Cornered over the Government's failure to intimate the family, Shinde waved the xerox copy of the speedpost receipt saying 'two speedposts within the gap of 10 minutes were sent on the evening of February seven.' However, Post Master General of Jammu and Kashmir Circle John Samuel said in Srinagar that the letter was sent from Delhi on February 8 and received in Srinagar on February nine. According to the official website of India Post, a speed post from national capital to any part of the country other than metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai Hyderabad and Bengaluru will take four to six days. Shinde was evasive on questions whether the Government made it sure that the family was informed before carrying out the execution. 'I have information that family has been communicated. The letter has been sent through speed post on February 7 night and the action was taken on Febuary nine,' he said. Further asked as to whether it was necessary to depend on speedpost when other methods including a phone call or a telegram could have been used, Shinde did not answer this question and rather maintained that rules of jail manual were followed. Against the backdrop of J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah voicing anger over the hanging of Afzal Guru, Union Minister Manish Tewari today also said that there was need for being 'circumspect and responsible' as delicate scrutiny was involved in such cases. 'Every individual and every leader is free to express his or her views. We listen to them extremely carefully. We take those views on board. However, it is important to remember that capital punishment is given in the rarest of rare cases and each case rests on its own unique facts and circumstances,' Tewari said. 'There can never be a one size fits all, there can never be a generic broadbrush when you deal with matters which are so sensitive and have both legal-judicial and constitutional implications and obligations,' he added. Tewari was asked by reporters about J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullahís statement that the onus rests on the judiciary and the political leadership to show that this wasnít a selective execution. 'Therefore, we would like to submit that in the case of capital punishment, there is a need to be circumspect, there is a need to be responsible. There is a need to understand and realise that there is a very delicate scrutiny process which is involved and which takes in to consideration the facts and circumstances of each case on its own merits,' Tewari added.