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Cong skirts Azad's plea on Afzal

Afzal's execution sentence in Parliament attack case and the mercy plea voices snowball into a major row. Speak up...

india Updated: Sep 29, 2006 21:48 IST

Congress on Friday sought to distance itself from Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's plea for mercy to Mohammad Afzal Guru, facing execution in the 2001 terror attack on Parliament, as the issue snowballed into a major controversy.

"I am neither endorsing, nor rejecting what the Chief Minister has said... It will be one of the inputs in the decision-making process...Congress has noted the proposal," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.

Singhvi, who faced a volley of questions, declined to make any value judgement, when asked whether Azad had "erred" in approaching Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue.

"As far as we are concerned, you have to allow established procedures to take care....These are matters which are in the exclusive domain of the President ....And it is not for anyone else to opine or decide," was Singhvi's refrain to a volley of questions.

Singhvi dismissed BJP's charge that the Congress approach showed that it was "soft" towards terror. He said the cap fits BJP well as its rule had witnessed the attack on Parliament, Akshardham and the Raghunath temple.

Asked whether the Congress party favoured in general capital punishment, he said that the party has not changed its stand on the law of the land.

To a query that Nalini, one of the convicts in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi got a pardon after Congress President Sonia Gandhi intervened, he suggested that no two individual cases are similar.

First Published: Sep 29, 2006 12:39 IST