New Delhi: In the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Opposition MPs shouted slogans demanding the hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted and sentenced to death for his role in the attack. His petition for mercy is pending with the President, Pranab Mukherjee.
Thursday marks the 11th anniversary of the parliament attack.
Speaker of the House Meira Kumar, visibly angry, reprimanded the unruly parliamentarians. "I will not adjourn the house today. We have just paid tributes to people who gave their lives protecting parliament. Did they give life for this," she asked sternly.
Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena on Thursday disrupted proceedings in the Lok Sabha as they noisily demanded the hanging of Afzal Guru, sentenced to death for the terror attack on parliament on this day 11 years ago.
The house observed a minute's silence to pay tribute to the nine people killed in the Dec 13, 2001 attack. The bedlam began soon after as members of BJP and Shiv Sena gathered near the speaker's podium shouting slogans demanding that Afzal Guru be hanged.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar's repeated requests to members to run the question hour fell on deaf ears.
But this had little impact, and members of both parties continued with the sloganeering, forcing the speaker to first adjourn the house till 11.30 a.m. and later till noon.
Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor expressed sadness over repeated disruptions.
"Sad that we mourn those who gave their lives to defend this institution of parliament and then betray it daily by disrupting its functioning," he said on Twitter.
Tharoor added: "Attended solemn commemoration in honour of victims of the Parliament attack of 13/12/2001. Paid floral tribute to the portraits of 9 martyrs."
Parliament was attacked by five armed Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists. They had stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing nine persons and injuring 16.
Four people - Afzal Guru, Delhi University professor S.A.R. Geelani, Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru and her husband Shaukat Hussain Guru - were arrested in connection with the case.
Geelani and Afsan were let off for lack of conclusive evidence. Shaukat Hussain Guru's death sentence was commuted to 10 years' imprisonment and he is now out of jail.
The martyrs included five Delhi Police personnel, a woman Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) official, two Parliament watch and ward staff and a gardener.
A journalist, who was injured, died later. All five terrorists were shot dead.
A year later, four accused, including Afzal Guru, were arrested for the attack and found guilty after a trial. Guru was sentenced to death for waging a war against the country and on terrorism charges.
Afzal was sentenced to death on Dec 18, 2002 by a trial court, which was upheld by the Delhi High Court on Oct 29, 2003. His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court on Aug 4, 2005.
The BJP has from time to time been demanding Afzal Guru's execution. The demands have become shriller after Mumbai terror attack accused Ajmal Kasab was hanged Nov 23.
Earlier in the parliament on Thursday, the BJP gave a notice for the suspension of Question Hour in the Lok Sabha to raise the subject of discussion on Parliament attack convict, Afzal Guru's execution delay.
Timeline of the 2001 Parliament attack
Two days ago, BJP had demanded that convict Afzal Guru be hanged on December 13 itself to pay the best homage to martyrs of the 2001 strike.
"If the government hangs Afzal Guru on December 13 itself, there cannot be anything better to pay homage to the martyrs of the December 13 attack on Parliament... It should hang the attacker of Parliament during the session of the House," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters in New Delhi.
He was replying to a question on Guru whose mercy petition is pending with the government.
"BJP demands that the government should not consider vote or election politics and it should not even think that someone will raise the issue in Parliament if he is hanged," Hussain said.
Wife of slain cop claims she returned medal given to martyr to press for Guru's execution
On Wednesday, several relatives of the martyrs have yet again expressed their wish to not attend the function held at Parliament unless Afzal Guru is hanged.
The widow of one of the security personnel killed in the strike appealed to the government to carry out death sentence on Afzal Guru, jailed for his role as one of the masterminds in the conspiracy.
Delhi Police Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Nanak Chand lost his life in the attack and was posthumously conferred with a bravery award in recognition of his sacrifice.
His wife Gangadevi, however, said his family members had returned that medal to the government to press for Guru's execution.
President of All-India Anti-Terrorism Front, Maninderjit Singh Bitta also demanded that Guru should be executed.
Gangadevi appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to respect the wishes of the family members of the martyred security personnel who wanted justice to be done in the case.
She said that the late ASI's father, 80-year-old Mangeram, himself a retired police constable, was living with the hope that the government would do justice to his son and his surviving family members.
Afzal Guru was sentenced to death on December 18, 2002, by a trial court, which was upheld by the Delhi High Court on October 29, 2003.
His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court on August 4, 2005. His mercy plea is still pending.
Shinde promises to look at Afzal's mercy plea after Parliament session
Files pertaining to mercy pleas of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru and six others will be looked into after the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said today.
Addressing a press conference here, Shinde also said there has not been any request to hand over the body of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab, who was hanged on November 21.
"There is no request for Kasab's body. Neither from his family nor from the Government of Pakistan," the Home Minister told reporters here.
Kasab, 25, was hanged last month after his mercy plea was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee.
To a question on mercy plea of 2001 Parliament attack convict Guru, Shinde said a decision to reject his clemency application was taken earlier.
"(Subsequently) The file was sent to the President for consideration. But the President sent back to me seven cases (including Guru). When Parliament session is over, I will look into it. I can't tell you the date," he said.
"The file has not come to me. President said new Home Minister should look into the file. As soon as the file comes to me, I will not take much time," Shinde, who took over as new Home Minister on August 1, said.
Guru was sentenced to death for the 2001 Parliament attack in which nine people, including security force personnel, were killed and 16 were injured.
Earlier on the sidelines of 47th Raising Day function of Border Security Force (BSF) here, Shinde had said he will see the seven files, including one of Guru's, after the Winter Session which concludes on December 20.
Parliament guard who got shot trying to save a constable now works as a sweeper
For Radha Chauhan, 37, nightmarish images are still fresh in her mind of splattered blood and people screaming in pain in the Dec 13 attack 11 years ago when five Pakistani terrorists entered the parliament complex and opened fire at security officials. The terror attack, which claimed nine lives, shook the nation and took India-Pakistan ties to the brink of war.
"I can never forget the day. It is still fresh in my mind. Whenever I think about the day, I start shaking," Chauhan, who was one of the women security personnel at the parliament complex, told IANS.
Recalling the day, she said: "I was posted at gate No. 5 and on hearing gun shots I ran towards gate No. 12 where there was absolute mayhem."
Chauhan was shocked to see five men, later identified as Pakistani terrorists, firing at security personnel. She was fired at when she tried to help constable Kamlesh Yadav, who later succumbed to bullet wounds.
Chauhan, who worked as a home guard at that time and now works as a sweeper with the Delhi government, received two bullet wounds. Chauhan claimed as she was working on a three-year contract which had expired.
She was among the 18 people who were injured in the parliament attack of Dec 13, 2001, when at around 11.45 a.m. a white Ambassador bearing a home ministry sticker entered the parliament complex. The car carrying the five terrorists banged into a stationary car of then vice president Krishna Kant.
When security personnel questioned them, the five men started running and opened indiscriminate fire, killing nine security personnel, including five Delhi Police personnel. The gunbattle - whose loud rattle could be heard for miles around in the centre of the capital - continued for half an hour.
According to a senior police officer investigating the case, the Lok Sabha had been adjourned for 40 minutes and the parliamentarians were still inside the building when the shootout occurred. The terrorists were shot dead before they could enter the main parliament building where the two houses were in session with all top leaders present.
To the credit of Delhi Police, they cracked the case in three days and revealed it to be the handiwork of Pakistani terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Police arrested four people: Afzal Guru, S.A.R. Geelani, a Delhi University professor, Navjot, also known as Afsan, and her husband, Shaukat Hussain Guru. Geelani and Afsan were let off for lack of evidence. Shaukat Hussain Guru's death sentence was reduced to 10 years' imprisonment and he is now out of jail.
Afzal Guru was sentenced to death on Dec 18, 2002, by a trial court, which was upheld by the Delhi High Court on Oct 29, 2003. His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court on Aug 4, 2005. His mercy plea is pending and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has said he will study the file after parliament's winter session ends Dec 22.
"On the basis of mobiles phones and other articles of the five terrorists, we began the investigation," Ashok Chand, the then deputy commissioner of police who probed the sensational case, told IANS.
Senior officers said several teams were involved in cracking the case that grabbed the attention of the world. Although it has been 11 years, for the families of the victims it has been a painful journey after losing their dear ones.
And they have only one demand: hang Afzal Guru.
After the hanging of Ajmal Kasab - the lone surviving Pakistani terrorist among the 10 who stormed Mumbai in the Nov 26-29, 2008, attack, killing 166 people - the chorus for Afzal Guru's execution has grown.
"Till the time Afzal Guru is hanged, there will be no honour for the martyrs in the parliament attack. Why has he not been hanged?" asked 24-year-old Bipin Adana, the son of Delhi Police head constable Vijendra Singh, who was killed in the attack.
"For all the families who lost their dear ones, the main issue is Afzal Guru," said Adana, who runs a petrol pump allotted to him by the government as compensation.
But rights activists say that Afzal Guru should not be hanged, arguing that, unlike Kasab, he was not present at the scene of the crime and evidence against him was circumstantial.
"He (Afzal Guru) has suffered for many years, the state can show him mercy and commute his sentence from death to life," aid Supreme Court Lawyer Rebecca John.
But M.S. Bitta, who survived an assassination bid in the mid-1990s and now heads the All India Anti-Terrorist Front, hopes the government will soon execute Afzal Guru.
"After Kasab, we are hopeful the next will be Afzal Guru."
Bitta said the families of all the victims have received compensation, except for the wife of injured cameraman Vikram Bisht, who died later.
"We are hopeful that Sunita Devi (Bisht's wife) will soon get a job. We are pitching with the government on this," Bitta said.
India pays homage to martyrs of Parliament attack
Vice President M. Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani and several other leaders are expected to offer floral tributes to the martyrs at a solemn ceremony on Thursday morning.
Parliamentarians led by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today paid homage to martyrs on the 11th anniversary of the attack on Parliament.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, BJP leader L K Advani, Leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha an the Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively and other members attended a solemn ceremony held in the premises of Parliament.
The leaders observed a silence for a while in remembrance of the martyrs.
Following this, Afzal filed a mercy petition with the President, who forwarded it to Union Home Ministry for its comments.