BJP asks Kalam to reject Afzal?s plea

Top BJP leaders say those without a sense of remorse cannot be considered for clemency, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2006 04:04 IST

Top BJP leaders on Sunday handed a memorandum to President Abdul Kalam, listing two reasons why he should not pardon Mohammed Afzal who has been handed death sentence for the attack on Parliament House in 2001.

L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, S S Ahluwalia and M A Naqvi told Kalam that "those without a sense of remorse can never be considered for clemency and the plea of fair trial made out now by Afzal Guru's family and supporters can only be entertained by courts and not the executive."

Secondly, they said, the executive does not sit in judgement over the judiciary. "Afzal was given the death penalty by a Session Judge in Delhi. His appeal was heard by Delhi High Court and eventually the Supreme Court considered the entire matter in the criminal appeal filed before it and came to a conclusive finding of guilt against Afzal."

Advani told reporters outside Rashtrapati Bhavan that "some people have started this campaign and the government is encouraging them by not coming clear on the issue. The BJP will not let this campaign in the interest of the nation's security."

Recalling that the attack was masterminded by those who wanted to eliminate the political leadership of India, the BJP leaders held that Afzal had shown no signs of remorse nor has he submitted the clemency petition himself.

"What kind of signals would the Indian state give if clemency is shown to those who are guilty of such heinous offences. Are we a soft state which lacks the political will to punish terrorism that even if they attack Indian Parliament the extreme penalty would not visit them?"

"It is the same trial court which acquitted another accused (S A R Geelani) because evidence did not indicate to the guilt beyond reasonable doubt. This shows the fairness of the Indian judicial process."

The BJP leaders explained to Kalam that the contention of Afzal's supporters that this convict did not pull the trigger himself and, therefore, did not deserve the extreme penalty did not hold ground.

Former Law Minister Arjun Jaitley told Kalam that, "in the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Kehar Singh had not pulled the trigger himself and yet the extreme penalty visited him. Why was this plea not raised by Afzal's supporters at that time? Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code deals with a criminal conspiracy."

The BJP leaders said those who mastermind Fidayeen attacks are as guilty if not more than those who are indoctrinated with religious faith to kill or be killed themselves.

"If amnesty is shown to those who have masterminded the most heinous attacks in recent history, it will be an incentive to terrorism. The government is already being accused of being accused of being sympathetic to terror. We appeal to your excellency to ensure the rule of law prevails and the executive does not for reasons of vote bank politics denigrate the needs of India's security and sovereignity."

Meanwhile, RSS chief K S Sudarshan was quoted by Sangh mouthpiece Panchjanya as advocating death penalty for Afzal.

First Published: Oct 08, 2006 22:59 IST