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Nov 21, 2012 at 09:09pm IST

After Kasab, pressure builds on government to take decision on Afzal Guru's execution

New Delhi: Execution of Mumbai terror attacks accused Ajmal Kasab has brought the spotlight now on the hanging of Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru. Sources said that a decision will be taken on him soon. The government's hope of being perceived as decisive post the execution of the 26/11 convict may not last long. Afzal Guru is on death row after being convicted of carrying out attack on Parliament in 2001.

Sources said that the file on Guru is still with the Home Ministry and a decision was expected soon. The speedy and decisive manner of carrying out Kasab's execution has led to an increase in pressure to push a decision on Guru soon. The Congress has often faced flak for playing vote-bank politics and for dragging its feet on the Afzal Guru file.

A key reason for its worry that unlike Kasab who was from Pakistan, the execution of Guru could trigger political trouble - especially in Jammu and Kashmir. Ironically, a section of the party believes it should act to avoid being accused of being soft on terror and being selective.

Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh also wanted the government to "expedite" the decision on the issue of Guru, who was sentenced to death in 2004. President Pranab Mukherjee, meanwhile, returned seven mercy petitions, including that of Guru, for consideration of the Union Home Ministry.

Official sources said it was a normal procedure for the President to refer all pending mercy petitions for consideration to a new Home Minister after he takes charge. Since Sushil Kumar Shinde took charge as a Home Minister on August 1, the seven mercy petitions, including that of Guru, were sent to him for consideration, they said.

Shinde himself refused to say anything on when a decision on Guru would be taken, hours after the operation to execute the lone surviving Pakistani gunman in the Mumbai attack was carried out in secrecy. "What about Afzal Guru, who attacked Parliament, our temple of democracy, in 2001? That offence predates Kasab's heinous act by many years," BJP leader and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

On Kasab's hanging, BJP President Nitin Gadkari said it had been delayed and asked why Guru had not been sent to the gallows yet. "Kasab has been hanged. But it has taken a lot of time. I want to ask the UPA government why Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru has not been hanged even 10 years after the incident.. Will this government implement the Supreme Court verdict on Afzal Guru. This government should clarify," Gadkari said at a rally in Delhi.

With Additional Inputs from PTI