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Afzal's Execution Not a Political Decision: Shinde
Dismissing Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's suggestion that the execution of Afzal Guru was "selective", the Centre today said the cases of killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh were different.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Afzal's execution was not a political decision but done according to rules.

"In the cases of Rajiv Gandhi and the Chief Minister, the cases are still pending in Supreme Court. After rejection (of the mercy petitions) cases were filed in the Madras High Court and Supreme Court.

"These cases are still under consideration before the judiciary. Hence it (Afzal) is different from these cases," he told a press conference.

He was responding to questions why the Government showed tearing hurry in executing Afzal Guru while the killers of Gandhi and Singh were given options.

Omar also had said yesterday that it will have to be proved to Kashmiris and to the world that the execution of Afzal Guru is not a "selective" one. Omar had asked if attack on Parliament was an attack on symbol of democracy, is an attack on Chief Minister and former Prime Minister not an attack on democracy.

To another question, Shinde said the decision to execute Afzal was not political but done according to rules.

Usually the President signs on the mercy petition and the Home Ministry send it for execution. "Even in the other cases, the files were sent to the states concerned. There they (convicts) went for appeal," he said.

Giving the sequence of events leading to the controversial execution on Saturday, the Home Minister said he had informed Omar on Friday night. "That was the first time I told him that we are doing it tomorrow morning."

Justifying the hush-hush manner in which the execution was carried out, he said the issue was sensitive and secrecy had to be maintained.

Shinde, who faced a volley of questions about why the family was kept in the dark, said according to the jail manual the prison authorities must have informed them.

When a reporter asked why the execution was done in secrecy if death penalty was to act as a deterrent, he said police investigations and intelligence operations cannot be done in open. "If that is done, the country will not run."

Asked about the possibility of retaliation as threatened by some militant groups, the Home Minister said the government has to be vigilant about it.

To a question about the reported illegal detention of newspaper journalist Iftikhar Geelani, the Home Minister said that he had arrived today only from Meghalaya and "I will enquire into it now."

Geelani was detained at his father-in-law and separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's house here on the day of hanging. He was, however, later allowed to go.

To a question whether getting a reprieve for death row convict Sarabjeet Singh in Pakistan in the wake of Afzal and Ajmal Kasab's execution, Shinde said "I have taken up this issue with Interior Minister of Pakistan."

Asked about the non execution of a death row convict whose mercy plea has been rejected by the President, he said "that matter is also in the court."

Queries as to whether any action will be taken against JKLF leader Yaseen Malik for sharing dais with Lashker-e-Taiba Chief Hafeez Saeed while sitting on a hunger strike in Pakistan, he said "I will look into the case."
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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