Once again putting his party in an embarrassing position, Shashi Tharoor on Monday said that the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was both “wrong” and “badly handled”. The Congress quickly distanced itself from his observation saying “all the due processes of law were followed” by the then UPA II government.
. @pankajsrini I think the hanging was both wrong &badly handled. Family should have been warned, given a last meeting & body returned
“I think the hanging was both wrong and badly handled. Family should have been warned, given a last meeting and body returned,” Tharoor said. Afzal Guru was hanged on February 9, 2013. Tharoor’s remarks left the Congress squirming. Tharoor’s comments come just days after five Congress MLAs in Jammu and Kashmir had in a written statement accepted that it was a mistake by the then UPA government not to allow relatives have a last meeting with Afzal. The letter was handed over to Independent MLA Engineer Rasheed, whose crucial vote helped the party re-elect Ghulam Nabi Azad to the Rajya Sabha. Azad, the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, won by a margin of just two votes.
Hours before the Rajya Sabha elections on Saturday, five Congress MLAs — Haji Rashid, Vikar Rasool, Amin Bhat, Gulzar Wani and G M Saroori issued a written statement. They also justified Rasheed’s demand for return of Afzal’s remains to his family as “humanitarian”.
The Congress rubbished Tharoor’s observation saying “individuals may have a different opinion but that is not and will never be the position of the party.”
“All the due processes of law were followed. The Supreme Court had convicted him and it (the execution) was a culmination of a judicial process. The review petitions were also rejected after which the order of the the highest court of the land was executed. So where is the question of the government being involved in it,” party spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said.
When pointed out that Tharoor has also suggested that the family of Afzal should have been informed prior to his execution and that the body should have been handed over to them, Kumar merely said “ask Shashi”.
Meanwhile, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani said that the NC, Congress and PDP are responsible for the hanging of Afzal Guru for the sake of power. “Omar Abdullah, Mufti Sayed and Congress leaders for the sake of power could have hanged Afzal Guru with their own hands to remain in power.”