'No riots in Delhi, if Afzal Guru hangs'
By: Anshuman G Dutta
Delhi Muslims rubbish government's apprehensions of a law and order problem as a political farce. Allege the establishment lacks will|
Delhi's Muslims are unanimous in their opinion that Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru should be hanged
forthwith and it would lead to no communal flare up or create a "law and order problem" as apprehended by the Delhi government.
bone of contention: Union Home Ministry is pursuing Afzal Guru's mercy petition with Delhi government for the last four years.
The state government had sent the file of mercy petition by the terrorist to the office of Lieutenant Governor Tejender Khanna after the 16th reminder from the Union Home Ministry.
Though the Delhi government has backed the death sentence for Afzal Guru, it has expressed apprehension that the implications of law and order should be closely examined while carrying out the execution.
But eminent Muslims in the city were livid that the government was dilly-dallying over the issue only for the fear of losing its minority vote-bank.
"There is no question of any law and order problem if Afzal Guru is hanged. It's proven that he is a terrorist and no Indian Muslim would ever favour a terrorist at any cost," said Shahi Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari. He added that even if there was any chance of a flare-up, the government should know how to handle it.
"Only Pakistan could react to the hanging," he said.
Yahya Bukhari, younger brother of the Shahi Imam and president of Jama Masjid United Forum (JMUF) was even more outspoken. "There is no possibility that hanging of a terrorist would lead to a law and order problem in the country. If the Delhi government is so scared to hang a terrorist then perhaps no terrorist would ever be hanged in the country," he said. "The government is trying to hide it's incompetence in the guise of maintenance of law and order," Bukhari said.
The Home Ministry had been reminding the Delhi government for the last four years to file its reply regarding the mercy petition of Afzal Guru. Highly-placed sources in the ministry told MiD DAY that off late they were contemplating "serious steps" against the pending case of Afzal Guru.
"The death sentence to Ajmal Amir Qasab further added to the pressure and there were questions about the government's commitment to hang Afzal Guru or taking a decision on his mercy petition," said an officer.
Lack of will
Senior journalist Anis Jamayi argued that if the government is so keen on maintaining law and order then why does it go ahead with removing encroachments.
"The government can do anything if it is serious. The government simply lacks the will to hang Afzal Guru," he said. He added that the separatists in Kashmir might launch some protests but apart from them, no Indian Muslim would ever come out in support of a terrorist.
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The Delhi Lieutenant Governor's office has sent back the file seeking more clarification over the remark of the Delhi Government. "We received the file from Delhi Government pertaining to Afzal Guru's mercy petition yesterday. We have sent back the file to the Delhi Government this evening seeking further clarification," highly placed sources in the LG's office told a news agency on Tuesday. They indicated that the comment of the Delhi government on the issue was not very clear and that is why the file was sent back.
Senior criminal lawyer MS Khan, who is known as the terrorist's lawyer for getting terror accused acquitted, said such observation further tarnishes the image of the Muslims in the country.
"I am known as a terror lawyer but even I believe that there could never be a communal problem in Delhi if a person who attacked the Parliament - the symbol of India's independent and secular identity - is hanged," he said. He added that the government is not serious about the issue and is looking for silly excuses.
Renowned Urdu writer and journalist Dr Khawar Hashmi said if the government was worried about some sporadic protests in Kashmir then it should also know that people like Afzal Guru have no supporters anywhere apart from the Valley.
"The perception that Indian Muslims have a soft corner for Kashmir is not true. No Muslim in the country would never ever align himself with anything wrong taking place in Kashmir. I don't believe that Muslims in Delhi or in any other part of the country would go up in arms against the execution."
He added that it was the government itself that wanted something untoward to happen or else it would not have been even talking about such issues.
|Story so far |
Afzal Guru was awarded death sentence by a Delhi court on December 18, 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy to attack Parliament on December 13, 2001, waging war against the country and murder. The death sentence was upheld by the Delhi High Court on October 29, 2003 and his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court two years later on August 4, 2005. A sessions court also fixed the date of his hanging on October 20, 2006 in Tihar jail. Following this, Afzal filed a mercy petition with the President, who forwarded it to Union Home Ministry for its comments.
The country's top neurointerventionist and senior neurophysician Dr Shakir Hussain also joined issue with Dr Hashmi.
"The whole idea of a law and order issue is based upon biased approach and wrong perceptions. I would not agree to the idea and philosophy that it (hanging) could lead to any trouble and even if it does then it is the government's responsibility to take care of the situation."
Not in our blood
"It's a completely wrong notion that hanging Afzal Guru could lead to disharmony between Muslims and non-Muslims. Every religion teaches one to abide by the law of the land and all Muslims adhere to the laws established and affirmed by the constitution," said IT professional Zafar Akbar Ansari.