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Tewari hits out at BJP for criticizing delay in Guru’s hanging

Hyderabad, Feb.10 (ANI): Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Sunday lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for criticizing the government on the issue of delaying the hanging of Afzal Guru for masterminding the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001.

“There is no need to pat our backs or criticize the government for implementing the law or taking a decision on the completion of constitutional process. The issue of national security is such an issue that requires political parties to rise above politics and play a more responsible role,” said Tewari, while interacting with Congress activists and mediapersons here.

President Pranab Mukherjee rejected a mercy petition from Afzal Guru on February 3 and he was hanged at 8 a.m. February 9 in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

Government officials dismissed suggestions that electoral politics played a role in the decision to execute Guru. The Congress party-led coalition, which the opposition has accused of being soft on terrorism, faces a tough re-election fight in 2014.

Tewari said the BJP had to no moral right to question the government’s actions.

“After having extended hospitality to militants and escorting them till Kandahar, does the opposition have any moral right to pin point the working of the incumbent government?,” said Tewari.

India blamed the 2001 attack on the parliament on militants backed by Pakistan.

Pakistan denied any involvement and condemned the attack, but tension rose sharply and brought the nuclear-armed rivals dangerously close to their fourth war.

Nearly a million soldiers were mobilised on both sides of the border and fears of war only dissipated months later, in June 2002.

Five militants stormed the heavily guarded parliament complex in New Delhi on Dec. 13, 2001, armed with grenades, guns and explosives, but security forces killed them before they could enter the main chamber. Ten other people, most of them security officers, were killed.

Guru, an Indian national, was convicted for helping to organise arms for the attackers and a place for them to stay. Guru had denied any involvement in the conspiracy.

India said the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group was responsible for the attack.

Guru’s execution is being seen as more divisive.

Some Kashmiri leaders warned that hanging him could again fuel a Muslim separatist revolt against Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir.

On the continuing agitation for the creation of a separate state of Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh, Tewari said: “There is a need to be patient, there is a need to be engaged, we understand the sensitivities of all sides, and we understand that emotions are raw. But these are decisions of great political import, they require sensitive handling. Therefore, I would like to appeal to everybody, and specially our young friends, that everyone needs to be patient. And, everyone needs to understand that the governments are trying to work their way through various arguments,” said Tewari.

At the heart of the dispute is the status of Hyderabad, geographically within the proposed new state, but claimed by both sides. Opponents of Telangana said the city was built into an economic powerhouse by investments from entrepreneurs from other regions of the state.

Supporters of Telangana statehood said that the interior region has been neglected in favour of Andhra Pradesh’s dominant coastal districts.

Earlier, the Congress Party, which rules India as well as Andhra Pradesh, had declared on December 28, 2012 that the issue would be resolved within a month.

The four-decade-old demand for Telangana, which is to be carved out of the economically less developed part of Andhra Pradesh, gathered momentum after the Congress party led-federal government accepted the demand in principle in 2009.

Calling it a betrayal, the federal main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party promised support to the bill for the creation of the separate state.

In New Delhi, people demonstrated outside the residence of Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Sunday, demanding the creation of a Telangana state.

Meanwhile, hundreds of students clashed with police and courted arrest during a rally in Hyderabad over the delay in formation of a separate Telangana state. (ANI)