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Centre not delaying Afzal Guru execution: Minister

Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: Union Minister of State for Home Shakeel Ahmed on Tuesday said the United Progressive Alliance government had nothing to do with the alleged delay in the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. As in the case of Murugan, convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the clemency petition of Afzal Guru too was pending before the President, Mr. Ahmed told journalists at the Pradesh Congress Committee office.

“All the talk about the government delaying the execution of Afzal Guru is baseless and politically motivated. There are 28 clemency petitions pending before the President of India and Afzal Guru’s happens to be the 27th in the line,” he said.

Dr. Ahmed was here to address the party workers on the nuclear deal.

“The National Democratic Alliance government deliberately sat over the case of Murugan. The Congress party-led UPA government after coming to power did not try to influence the decision on the clemency petition even when it involved the assassin of one of its dearest leaders, Rajiv Gandhi,” he said.

“There is a system in the office of the President in disposing of the petitions and on an average one petition takes six years for clearance,” Dr. Ahmed said.

“The delay can be debated but it is grossly unfair on the part of the BJP to say that that the Congress does not want to hang Afzal Guru because he is a Muslim,” he said.

On the recent serial blasts in various parts of the country, the Minister said his government was keen on setting up a Central crime investigation agency. “We have held 3-4 meetings in this connection but the Chief Ministers of some States are not very forthcoming for the fear of losing their authority to the Centre.”

“Now the States are carrying out the investigations on their own and there is no coordination. We strongly feel that crimes against the nation, including terror attacks, money laundering and circulation of fake currency should be investigated by a Central agency,” he said. He refused to comment on the recent arrests of terror suspects by the Gujarat government. “The Centre has no role in the investigations. If the States ask us for support, then only we provide it,” he said.

Responding to the charge that the Centre was holding up clearance of strong laws passed by the State governments where the BJP was in power, he said the Congress had come to power with a promise in its manifesto to annul POTA.

“We cannot allow any POTA-like legislation to come up,” he said.

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