Speak of the Parliament attack and the first name that comes to mind is Afzal Guru. The fate of this man lies in the hands of the President of India who is to decide on his mercy petition that ha been filed 5 years back.
After filing the mercy petition the matter was pending before the President. It was once again sent to the Home Ministry for review and only recently was it rejected and sent back to the President of India.
The BJP has made this one of its prime issues every time it raises the subject of national security. There has been a lot spoken about how dangerous it is to keep him alive in jail lest it leads to another Khandahar type operation. They further argue that there is no reason for the Congress to be soft on Guru especially when the courts of the land have awarded him a death penalty after looking closely into the case.
During the course of arguments before the trial judge, High Court and the Supreme Court, the case of the prosecution was this: They told the courts that the conspiracy was hatched by Maulana Masood Azhar who led the Jaish-e-Mohammad. He instructed Ghazi Baba to carry out an attack on key installations in India including the Indian Parliament. Baba who was in charge of the JeM in Kashmir roped in a person by the name Tariq who roped in Afzal Guru and Mohammad Haider. It was alleged that Guru helped bring in the ammunition into Delhi with the help of his militant contacts. It was further alleged that Guru kept in touch with
Shaukat Hussain Guru, Shaukat’s wife Afzan Guru and S. A. R. Geelani. Prior to the attack the militants were in touch with Guru.
Further the prosecution also argued that through some of the phone numbers obtained after the arrest of Guru, they found the records to Geelani. It was also stated that it was Geelani who led the police to the other accused persons.
Those arguing in favour of Guru have another story to tell. The first point that they would put out is that the Supreme Court while convicting him had clearly mentioned that it had circumstantial evidence against him and he was neither the mastermind neither was he the executor of the attack. It is said that Guru had joined the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, but was unhappy and hence surrendered himself. Further it is contended that he had accompanied one of the accused Mohammad who purchased the ambassador car which was used during the attack, but did not know what he was actually accompanying him for.
While this is the law related to the case, the other point of contention in the political circles is that hanging Afzal Guru would mean the death of peace in Kashmir. Some within the valley would go on to contend that hanging Afzal Guru would be a mistake and the people would never trust the Indian government ever again which would effectively mean disruption of peace and a stumbling block leading up to the reselution of the Kashmir issue.
While Afzal Guru is one part of the story, the other story is the remaining absconders in this case. As per the chargesheet, the main accused is Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and his accomplices, Ghazi Baba and Tariq Ahmed. Ghazi Baba, according to security forces was killed in a gun battle a couple of years back.
India can claim that it has completed the probe in the Parliament attack, but the fact of the matter is that the main person behind this attack, Azhar is still out of our radar.
Azhar figures in all the dossiers that India has sent to Pakistan. His release during the hostage swap of December 31 1999 proved to be a costly affair. Not only did he get back to Pakistan and come back very strong with his new outfit, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, but he also was involved in planning the Parliament attack.
Although today his area of operation has been restricted to Kashmir alone, the man is very ambitious and had sworn to take over Ayodhya, Amritsar and also New Delhi. He has made it very clear that violence would be the only way to win over Kashmir and to attain this goal he would go to any length.
Although the ISI has contained him to the Valley alone, it is still a worrying factor that the man is out on the lose. His outfit undertakes only fidayeen strikes and they seem to have one of the best in the business.
According to the Indian Intelligence Azhar has been toying with the idea of joining the battle at Afghanistan, but the ISI has ensured that he continue to fight the Kashmir battle. He is an inspirational figure to his cadres in his own right and as long as he lives it only means India has a head ache on hand.