2001 Indian Parliament attack
|2001 Indian Parliament attack|
|Location||New Delhi, India|
|Date||13 December 2001 (UTC+05:30)|
|Target||Parliament of India building|
|Deaths||12, including 5 militants|
The 2001 Indian Parliament attack was a high-profile attack on the Parliament of India, housing in New Delhi by Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists. The attack led to the death of a dozen people, including one civilian and to increased tensions between India and Pakistan, resulting in 2001-2002 India-Pakistan standoff.
On 13 December 2001, five terrorists infiltrated the Parliament House in a car with Home Ministry and Parliament labels. While both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha had been adjourned 40 minutes prior to the incident, many members of parliament (MPs) and government officials such as Home Minister LK Advani and Minister of State for Defence Harin Pathak were believed to have still been in the building at the time of the attack.
The gunmen drove their vehicle into the car of the Indian Vice-President Krishan Kant (who was in the building at the time), got out, and began firing their weapons. The Vice-President's guards and security personnel shot back at the terrorists and then started closing the gates of the compound. Constable Kamlesh Kumari was first to spot the terrorist squad. One gunman's suicide vest exploded when he was shot dead; the other four gunmen were also killed. Five policemen, a Parliament security guard, and a gardener were killed, and 18 others were injured. The ministers and MPs escaped unhurt.
The attack triggered extensive and effective investigations which revealed possible involvement of four accused namely Afzal Guru, Shaukat Hussain and S.A.R. Gilani and Navjot Sandhu a.k.a. Afsan . Some other proclaimed offenders said to be the leaders of the banned militant organisation known as Jaish-e-Mohammed. After the conclusion of investigation, investigating agency filed the report under Section 173 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (India) against four accused persons on 14 May 2002. Charges were framed under various sections of Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002, and the Explosive Substances Act by the designated sessions Court.
The designated Special Court was presided over by S.N. Dhingra and accused were tried on charges and the trial concluded within a record period of about six months. 80 witnesses were examined for the prosecution and 10 witnesses were examined on behalf of the accused S.A.R. Gilani. About 300 documents were exhibited. Afzal Guru, Shaukat Hussain and S.A.R. Gilani were convicted for the offences under Sections 121, 121A, 122, Section 120B read with Sections 302 & 307 read with Section 120B IPC, sub-Sections (2), (3) & (5) of Section 3 and Section 4(b) of POTA and Sections 3 & 4 of Explosive Substances Act. The accused 1 & 2 were also convicted under Section 3(4) of POTA.
Accused No.4 namely Navjot Sandhu a.k.a. Afsan was acquitted of all the charges except the one under Section 123 IPC for which she was convicted and sentenced to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment for five years and to pay a fine. Death sentences were imposed on the other three accused for the offences under Section 302 read with Section 120B IPC and Section 3(2) of POTA. They were also sentenced to life imprisonment on as many as eight counts under the provisions of IPC, POTA and Explosive Substances Act in addition to varying amounts of fine. The amount of a million Indian rupees, which was recovered from the possession of two of the accused, namely, Afzal Guru and Shaukat Hussain, was forfeited to the State under Section 6 of the POTA.
On appeal, the high court subsequently acquitted S.A.R Geelani and Afsan, but upheld Shaukat's and Afzal's death sentence. Geelani's acquittal blew a gaping hole in the prosecution's version of the parliament attack. Geelani was presented as the mastermind of the entire attack. Geelani, a young lecturer at Delhi University received support from his outraged colleagues and friends, who were certain that he had been framed. They contacted the well-known lawyer Nandita Haksar and asked her to take on his case.
Indian Government initially accused Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed to be involved in this attack. However, Lashkar-e-Taiba denied any involvement in the incident. In December 2002, four JeM members were caught by Indian authorities and put on trial. All four were found guilty of playing various roles in the incident, although the fourth, Afsan /Navjot Sandhu, wife of Shaukat Hussain (one of the accused) was found guilty of a minor charge of concealing knowledge of conspiracy. One of the accused, Afzal Guru, was sentenced to the death penalty for the incident.
World leaders and leaders in India's immediate neighbourhood condemned the attack on the Parliament. On 14 December, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack. Home Minister LK Advani claimed, "[w]e have received some clues about yesterday's incident, which shows that a neighbouring country, and some terrorist organisations active there behind it", in an indirect reference to Pakistan and Pakistan-based terrorist groups.
The same day, in a demarche to Pakistani High Commissioner to India Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, India demanded that Pakistan stop the activities of LeT and JeM, that Pakistan apprehend the organisations' leaders and that Pakistan curb the financial assets and the groups access to these assets. In response to the Indian government's statements, Pakistani forces were put on high alert the same day. On 20 December, India mobilised and deployed its troops to Kashmir and Punjab in what was India's largest military mobilisation since the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.
Following the attack, many suspects were arrested, and in December 2002 four Jaish-e-Mohammed members were convicted for roles in the attack. In 2003, India said its forces had killed the mastermind of the attack in Kashmir.
Afzal Guru, sentenced to death by Indian court and due to be hanged on 20 October, had his execution stayed. His family had camped in New Delhi to meet the President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam to accept the mercy petition. Also the family of Kamlesh Kumari, a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) Jawan who died in the attack has said that they would return the Ashok Chakra, if the president accepts the petition, but it is unclear if it had been done so. On 13 December 2006, the families of the deceased returned the medals to the government. As of April 2007, the then President of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, refused to interfere in the judicial process.
The sentence was scheduled to be carried out on 20 October 2006, but Afzal was given a stay of execution and remained on death row. On 3 February 2013, his mercy petition was rejected by the current President of India Pranab Mukherjee. He was hanged at Delhi's Tihar Jail around 08:00 A.M. on 9 February 2013, and buried in Tihar jail with full religious rites.
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- #AfzalGuru: The Very Strange Story of the Attack on the Indian Parliament
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