The government has no plans to jump the queue on the clemency petition of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru or fast track the decision on his execution, says Home Secretary G K Pillai.
"Afzal Guru is in the queue (of mercy petitions in the president's office). Nobody will be expedited," Pillai said in an interview, denying reports that the government may consider a fast-track decision on Guru's fate.
Asked about the hectic activity on Guru's clemency petition that has been moving back and forth between the home ministry and the Delhi government, Pillai said: "We have sent 20 reminders, but these are general reminders we keep sending to the state governments. This is all a media hype."
The case of the 40-year-old convicted Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist and one of the key plotters of the 2001 attack that killed 13 people in the high-security Indian parliament hit the spotlight after the death punishment awarded to Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist caught alive after the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
Guru, a medicine and surgical instrument dealer in Kashmir, was sent to the death row in 2002. His sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court a year later. The sentence was scheduled to be carried out on Oct 20, 2006, but his execution was stayed after his wife sought clemency from the President of India.
The petition is 28th in the list of mercy applications before President Pratibha Patil. As per procedure, the president has sought the views of the home ministry, which in turn has asked the Delhi government to give its views.
The issue is once again spiralling into a major political controversy.
Demanding that Guru's execution be not delayed any further, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) put up hoardings in several parts of the city seeking an explanation from the Delhi government on why it was withholding the mercy petition.
Congress leader Digvijay Singh said the Supreme Court's order should be followed. "There should be no problem in hanging him."
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has said the final decision on the execution or mercy rested with the lieutenant governor of Delhi and the home ministry.
"The Supreme Court's order to hang him will prevail. On the mercy petition filed by the wife of Afzal Guru, the final decision rests with the home ministry and the LG," Dikshit said Friday.
The Delhi government had earlier this week cautioned that there was a need to examine law and order implications while sending Guru to the gallows. The Jammu and Kashmir government has also warned about possible law and order turmoil in the state in case Guru was hanged.