Congress charges Modi with communalising Afzal issue

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New Delhi, Dec 14 (UNI) The Congress today came down heavily on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks implying that its President Sonia Gandhi was protecting Mohammed Afzal Guru, whose death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in the 2001 Parliament attack case, and alleged that the BJP was communalising and politicising the issue.

"You cannot jump at the procedures...It is not befitting in a democracy," AICC General Secretary Veerappa Moily told mediapersons, while pointing out that the mercy petition of Afzal, the main accused in the case, was pending before the President of India for about a year only.

In this context, he said, "on an average, at least five to seven years are taken for decisions on clemency petitions after conviction." At a public rally yesterday, Mr Modi asked why Ms Gandhi was refusing to hang Mohammed Afzal Guru, though the Supreme Court had given the terrorist a death sentence.

AICC Spokesman Abishek Manu Singhvi, who was also present, said the statement of Mr Modi exposed the "utter height of hypocrisy" of the BJP.

He said mercy petitions on 19 sensitive cases were pending during 1998-2004 under the NDA rule.

Dr Singhvi said the BJP government had let Peter Bleach go to his home country after he was convicted in the Purulia arms drop case.

Citing the cases of mercy petititions of convicts in the Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi assassination cases, Mr Moily said "mercy petitions are not decided in a year. There are a series of procedures that had to be undergone. Congress will not be a party to scuttle procedures laid down by law." Alleging that "victimisation is the rule of law in Gujarat," he said "Mr Modi has no respect for law. Gujarat is the most feared state." Asked to comment on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that Mr Modi was "unbeatable," Mr Moily said, "yes...Mr Modi is unbeatable in his devilishness and dictatorship." On BJP leader L K Advani's criticism of Dr Singh about his political standing, he said "Dr Singh will not politicise development. He has the power of discretion to distinguish between politics and development." UNI

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