NEW DELHI: Differences have emerged between the Congress and its former ally in the UPA government, the National Conference, over party president Omar Abdullah’s comment that Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was hanged by the Manmohan Singh government for “political reasons.”
In an interview to PTI, Mr. Abdullah, who was the Chief Minister in February 2013 when Guru was hanged, said: “The fact is, whether we like it or not, he was hanged for political reasons. It’s a fact.”
Mr. Abdullah also accused then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde of giving him no choice in the matter, and informing him of the decision to execute Guru only a few hours before the hanging.
“I asked the Home Minister whether he was sure that nothing could be done. He said no as he had signed the paper and warrant had been issued and asked me to deal with the implications.”
Shinde hits back
Denying any “political” angle to the hanging, Mr. Shinde said Mr. Abdullah was trying to “indulge in politics there in Kashmir.” Mr. Shinde questioned the timing of Mr. Abdullah’s outburst. “At that time, [Omar Abdullah] never brought such an aspect [about politics being behind the hanging] to our notice.”
While Mr. Abdullah protested the government’s decision, he hadn’t offered to resign, despite admitting that he had not been consulted.
Shortly after the execution, protests broke out in Kashmir and the Congress-led government at the Centre was criticised for executing the terror convict ‘out of turn’, under pressure from the BJP.
Guru had been named as number 28 in the list of condemned prisoners released by former Home Minister P. Chidambaram. The decision, said Mr. Abdullah on Sunday, was tantamount to “jumping the queue”, and compared it with the fact that the killers of Rajiv Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh had not had death sentences carried out by the UPA government.