There are grave doubts over Guru’s involvement in parliament attack: Chidambaram

New Delhi: Nearly three years after the UPA government ordered the hanging of Afzal Guru, P Chidambaram, who held the Home and Finance portfolios in the UPA government, told ET in an interview that he felt it was possible to hold an “honest opinion” that the case was “perhaps not correctly decided” and that there were “grave doubts about the extent of his involvement” in the 2001 Parliament attack. He was responding to a question on whether the courts had reached the correct conclusions in the Afzal case and also whether execution was the appropriate penalty.
“I think it is possible to hold an honest opinion that the Afzal Guru case was perhaps not correctly decided,” he told ET in an interview.
“But being in government you cannot say the court has decided the case wrongly because it was the government that prosecuted him. But an independent person can hold an opinion that the case was not decided correctly.”
Further it is wrong to project that anyone “who holds that opinion is anti-nation”.
Chidambaram was Home minister from 2008 to 2012, before being switched to Finance. Afzal Guru, who was found guilty of involvement in the attack on Parliament in 2001, was executed in 2013, when Sushil Kumar Shinde was Home minister.
“There were grave doubts about his involvement (in the conspiracy behind the attack on Parliament and even if he was involved, there were grave doubts about the extent of his involvement. He could have been imprisoned for life without parole for rest of his natural life,” he said.
Terming the sedition charges against JNU students as “outrageous”, the veteran Congress leader said the court will throw out those charges at the first hearing. “Free speech is not seditious speech. Is your speech a spark in the powder keg (inciting violence) only then it amounts to sedition,” he said.
Chidambaram also said the anti-national slogans allegedly chanted on the JNU campus earlier this month did not amount to sedition. “It is an age where students have the right to be wrong. And the university is a place where you don’t always need to be profound, you can be ridiculous also,” he said.
When reminded that he was part of the same government that executed Guru, Chidambaram replied: “That is true, but I was not the home minister then…I can’t say what I would have done. It is only when you sitting on that seat you take that decision.”
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party said that Chidambaram’s questioning the extent of Afzal Guru’s role in the 2001 parliament attack would primarily encourage ‘terrorists’ to get more active, and therefore, will have a very negative effect on Kashmir.
“I am wondering what is the motivation? But the obvious implication of the statement is that it is a Congress Party statement. He would not make such a foolish statement unless he was asked to make the statement. And it is primarily to encourage all the terrorists to get active. This will have a very negative effect on Kashmir,” Subramanian Swamy said.
Swamy asks as to why did Chidambaram waited all these years to open his mouth and must give an explanation in this regard.
“He was the minister in the previous government when Afzal Guru was hanged. He has waited all these years to open his mouth on it. He did not open his mouth when the government decided that the body will not be handed over to the family,” he added.
The BJP leader also said that the Government of India must register the case under 124-A, sedition against him.
“This is anti national statement and therefore so he must be persecuted,” he added.
Swamy however alleged that the Congress party is under the pressure from radical Muslims that they will not give the party votes if the party will not support them.
“The congress party moral authority has completely collapsed in the country. They are now looked upon as a party which is complicit to some foreign powers,” he added.

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