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Tributes paid to Parliament attack victims

delhi Updated: Dec 13, 2007 15:59 IST

IANS
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his cabinet ministers and MPs on Thursday paid homage to the security personnel killed in the attack on Parliament six years ago, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lambasted the government for delaying the execution of Mohammad Afzal, convicted of conspiracy in that attack.

At a simple function at Parliament House, the prime minister and other leaders paid floral tributes before the photographs of the eight policemen and a gardener killed in the 2001 attack.

The opposition BJP marked the occasion with advertisements in Gujarat attacking the Congress party's stand on Afzal's death penalty. Chief Minister Narendra Modi has specifically pointed out in one of his election speeches that Afzal should be handed over to Gujarat so that "we can hang him".

Last year, families of the security personnel killed in the attack returned the gallantry medals to the then president APJ Abdul Kalam, protesting the delay in executing Afzal for his role in the terror strike.

The Supreme Court upheld Afzal's conviction and death sentence in 2005 and a Delhi court even set a date for his execution in Tihar Jail. However, the execution has not taken place so far as his mercy petition is pending with the president.

The government's position is that no time frame could be laid down for executing the death sentence awarded to Afzal.

Human rights groups and political parties in Kashmir claim the trial was flawed, and have been demanding that the sentence not be carried out.

On Dec 13, 2001, terrorists, dressed in commando fatigues, attacked parliament, resulting in a half-an-hour gun battle in which nine people, including a gardener and eight security personnel, were killed.

All the five terrorists who were armed with AK-47 rifles, explosives and grenades and later identified as Pakistani nationals, were also gunned down.

Senior ministers and over 200 MPs were inside the Central Hall of parliament when the attack took place.

Among those present in the morning function were Vice President Hamid Ansari, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, Defence Minister AK Antony, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and BJP leaders LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj.