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Mohammed Afzal to plead mercy before President

Tihar Jail authorities in New Delhi are directed to make arrangements for hanging Afzal at 6 am on Oct 20.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2006 00:17 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Mohammed Afzal was set to approach the president with a mercy petition after a Delhi court on Tuesday fixed Oct 20 as the date of execution of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist for his role in the terror attack on Parliament in December 2001.

Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur signed the death warrant directing the Tihar Central Jail authorities in New Delhi to make arrangements for hanging Afzal at 6 am on Oct 20.

Later on Tuesday, the terrorists's lawyers said he will approach President APJ Abdul Kalam pleading mercy.

The Supreme Court had on August 4 last year upheld the Delhi High Court judgement confirming the death sentence awarded to him by the trial court.

Apart from Afzal, there were three accused in the case—Shaukat Hussain, Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru, wife of Hussain, and SAR Geelani, a lecturer of Delhi University.

The apex court had acquitted Geelani and Guru from all charges and had reduced the death sentence awarded to Hussain to 10 years' imprisonment.

However, it upheld the judgement of the high court in sentencing Afzal to death for actively participating in the conspiracy to attack Parliament and waging war against the Indian state.

In its judgement the apex court characterised Afzal as a "menace to the society", whose "life should become extinct" to satisfy "the collective conscience of the society".

The Dec 13, 2001 attack on Parliament was a meticulously planned exercise in which five Pakistani terrorists—Mohammed, Haider, Hamza, Rana and Raja—breached security barricades in an ambassador car and began random firing at security personnel positioned at the premises.

In the two-hour standoff, six police personnel and a parliament employee were killed.

Several union ministers and hundreds of MPs were inside Parliament when the attack took place.

The apex court had said that there was clinching evidence against Afzal regarding his nexus with the slain terrorists who had carried out the attack.

The trial court had on Dec 18, 2002 awarded death penalty to Afzal, Shaukat, and Geelani and five years' imprisonment to Afsan Guru.

The Delhi High Court had on Oct 29, 2003 upheld the death penalty to Afzal and Hussain but had acquitted both Geelani and Guru.

While Afzal and Hussain had filed appeals in the apex court against the death sentence, Delhi Police had appealed against the acquittal of Geelani and Afsan Guru.

Meanwhile, preparations for the hanging were on at the Tihar Jail, the country's biggest prison.

"Most of the arrangements are in place but we expect that little renovation work would be carried out as it has not been used for more than 17 years," said a senior official of the jail.

The assassinators of former prime minister Indira Gandhi—Beant Singh and Satwant Singh—were the last to be hanged in the jail premises on Jan 6, 1989.

First Published: Sep 27, 2006 00:15 IST