Govt asks BJP to explain why Afzal was released before re-arrest

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (UNI) Adopting an offensive posture against BJP leader L K Advani for accusing UPA government of being soft towards terror, Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal today challenged the BJP to answer why they once released Parliament attack accused Mohammad Afzal Guru whose capital punishment they are insisting on now.

''BJP and Advani must first answer under what circumstances Afzal was first arrested and released before being rearrested,'' Mr Jaiswal said in an obvious bid to lob the ball into the court of BJP which has been pressurising the government to take a faster decision on the mercy petition of Parliament attack convict .

Mr Jaiswal said the BJP should explain whether Afzal was released on former Home Minister Advani's instructions. He said though no Prime Minister or Home Minister signs the file for arrest or release of a criminal, it is the responsibility of the political head who are answerable for such acts.

Afzal was reportedly first arrested soon after the Parliament attack in December, 2002 but following the protests of some people was released before being arrested again on the basis of intelligence reports.

''Moreover, before making allegations about delay in taking a decision on the mercy petition of Mohammad Afzal Guru, the BJP and Mr Advani should first explain why the NDA government took six rpt six years to decide the mercy petition of convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case when there was only one case was against him.'' Pointing out that the process of deciding the mercy petition was a complex and time consuming, Mr Jaiswal said this was especially so in Afzal's case who is facing 33 charges. He said that comments are invited on all of the cases which are analysed by the Law Ministry before the Home Ministry could make a recommendation to the President.

''However, whatever decision the President would take on the issue the government would have no hesitation in implementing it,'' he assured.

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