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Hang Afzal or take medals back: War veterans

Source: PTI
January 16, 2007 17:56 IST
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War heroes and kin of jawans who were killed in action have joined the families of Parliament attack victims to mount pressure for the execution of Mohd Afzal Guru.

They have even threatened to return their medals of honour.

Four days after the Supreme Court dismissed Afzal's plea seeking review of his death sentence, they urged President A P J Abdul Kalam not to pardon him and asked the government to carry out the execution without further delay.

The families of slain soldiers also complained of apathy by the Central government in providing them a dignified life at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday organised by Anti-Terrorist Front chairman M S Bitta.

"We are waiting for execution of the Supreme Court order. We want a decision as soon as possible," said Jayawati, widow of Delhi police Head Constable Virender Singh, who was killed in the Parliament attack on December 13, 2001.

Colonel Kunwar Bharadwaj, a 1971 war veteran and father of Captain Umang Bharadwaj, who was killed in an encounter with terrorists in Kashmir, said he will return the Shaurya Chakra awarded to his son if Afzal is not executed within a month.

"If the government is not willing to honour the Supreme Court judgment, why is it sending soldiers to die on the battle front," he asked, adding that the government should make efforts to root out terrorism from the country.

"Government and political parties must make up their mind immediately on the execution of Afzal's death sentence. We should not insult the families of the victims. There should be no politics over this," Bitta told reporters.

Abrisha Khatoom, widow of Kirti Chakra awardee Ajmer Ali who was killed in action twenty years ago, said nobody bothered to take care of her family after her husband's death.

"What will I do with the medal? What I want is financial support to raise my children," she added.

Sunita, the widow of ANI cameraman Vikram Singh Visht who died in the attack on Parliament, said she has been running from pillar to post to get the job of a peon, but has not been successful so far.

Colonel Bharadwaj also accused the government of adopting an indifferent attitude towards the families of martyrs and claimed that the petrol pump allotted to him three years ago has not started functioning yet because of procedural delays. The families of Parliament attack victims had earlier threatened to return their gallantry medals, but relented after the President intervened.

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