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'I can never forget the day' (Dec 13 is the 11th anniversary of the parliament attack)

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 09:50 hrs

New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) 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 told IANS.

(Alok Singh & Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at alok.s@ians.in & gaurav.s@ians.in)




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