Beni Prasad beats retreat after opposing Afzal Guru's death sentence

Beni Prasad Verma

Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, who courted controversy by opposing the death sentence awarded to 2001 Parliament House attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru, on Thursday retracted from his statement.

"Whatever decision the President gives should be taken in this case. I respect the judgement of the apex court," he told mediapersons outside Parliament here.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier in the day raised the issue again by giving notice for adjournment of Question Hour in the Lok Sabha to discuss delay in the execution of Afzal Guru.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had earlier on Monday said he would take a decision on the mercy plea of Afzal Guru after the Winter Session of Parliament is over.

"The (Afzal Guru's mercy petition) file was sent to the President for consideration. But the President sent back to me seven (mercy petition) cases (including that of Afzal Guru) When Parliament session is over, I will look into it. As and when the (Afzal Guru''s) file comes to me, I will consider it carefully and take a decision," Shinde told mediapersons here.

Parliamentarians led by Rajya Sabha Chairman Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today paid homage to martyrs on the 11th anniversary of the attack on Parliament.

On December 13, 2001, five heavily-armed gunmen stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing nine persons.

Mohammed Afzal Guru, who was held guilty in the case, was awarded the death sentence by a Delhi court on December 18, 2002, after being convicted of conspiracy to attack Parliament on December 13, 2001, waging war against the country and murder.

The Delhi High Court upheld the death sentence on October 29, 2003 and his appeal was further rejected by the Supreme Court two years later.

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