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Pressure rises on Centre to decide Afzal Guru's fate

December 29, 2008 08:42 IST
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Even as the Congress leadership is happily calculating its prospects and share of power in Jammu and Kashmir, it might also need to spend time on the Afzal Guru case now as the J&K election results have arrived.

Coverage: Attack on Parliament

Already, the Congress leadership has started facing the pressure from its allies on the issue.

Afzal Guru has been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for his role in the Parliament attack case. But his clemency petition is lying with the President for the past many months.

According to top government sources, in a Union Cabinet meeting recently, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said ministers like him should be "told what to say" when people ask them about Afzal Guru. Bluntly targetting senior Congress representatives in the Cabinet, Pawar also asked how long the government was going to sit on the case of Afzal's clemency.

In the Congress too, there is a section that feels that the government should decide on the fate of Afzal Guru, especially after the Mumbai terror attack, to send a message of the government's stand against terror. Highly-placed sources suggest that days before Shivraj Patil was removed from the home minister's post, he had almost made up his mind that Afzal would be hanged after the J&K polls.

Pawar also cited the Mumbai incident during his intervention in the Cabinet meeting and emphasized that the government must act tough against terror.

Officially, the party and the government had maintained that there are 25 other clemency petitions pending before the President and Afzal's petition is the last one in that order.

However, a senior minister feels the issue has become a double-edged sword. "If we pull out his petition and decide on it out of turn, questions will be raised as to why we didn't take this stand earlier. And if we dispose of other cases to reach Afzal's petition, again questions may be raised that for Afzal, other 25 cases have been hastily disposed of," said a senior Congress minister.

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Source: source