New Delhi: After the execution of the 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, political slugfest over convicts on death row has began. After Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's statement on Guru, the Shiromani Akali Dal has said the party will not allow the government to carry out the death sentence of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh's killer Balwant Singh Rajoana.
Meanwhile, President Pranab Mukherjee has sought the opinion on the 8 mercy petitions of death row convicts from the Home Ministry.
The convicts on death row include former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's killers Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, Devender Pal Singh Bhullar - convicted for bomb blasts at Youth Congress office, Beant Singh's killer Balwant Sing Rajoana, Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist and Red Fort attacker Mohd Arif alias Ashfaq.
Omar Abdullah had pointed towards the above convicts while saying that Afzal Guru was hanged in a hurry even though Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said some of the cases were pending in the courts and there should be no politics over Afzal Guru.
It seems there has been some partiality in carrying out the execution even after the Supreme Court upheld death sentences of a few convicts.
Rajiv Gandhi's killer were convicted and sentenced in 1998 but their mercy petitions took 11 years. Later based on this delay, petitions were filed in the Madras High Court to commute their sentence. They were scheduled to be hanged on September 9, 2011.
The mercy petition of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, who was convicted in 1993 for the bombing of Youth Congress office in Delhi, was rejected on May 27, 2011. He is under medical treatment at the Indian Institute of Human Behaviour and Sciences.
Beant Singh's killer Rajoana was to be executed on March 31, 2012 but due to Shiromani Akal Dal's interference and pressure his hanging was postponed. Akal Dal has made it clear that they would not allow Rajoana to be hanged.
There are several mercy petitions pending before the President and the BJP had during the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2012 used the Afzal Guru case to target the UPA government.