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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Parliament attack martyrs take back the medals....

It is not any ordinary edifice…. it is the symbolic portrayal of the democracy – it is the Parliament of India (or Sansad) ~  the federal and supreme legislative body of India. It consists of two houses – the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. It is located in New Delhi at Sansad Marg.  More than a decade ago, on that dreaded day,  the whole nation trembled. The attack on India's Parliament stunned a nation that watched what was happening live on television.  

Just to recall the news, Terrorists on December 13, 2001 attacked the Parliament of India resulting in a 45-minute gun battle in which 9 policemen and a parliament staffer were killed. All the five terrorists were also killed by the security forces and were identified as Pakistani nationals. The attack took place around 11:40 am (IST), minutes after both Houses of Parliament had adjourned for the day. The suspected terrorists dressed in commando fatigues entered Parliament in a car through the VIP gate of the building. Displaying Parliament and Home Ministry security stickers, the vehicle entered the Parliament premises. The terrorists set off massive blasts and have used AK-47 rifles, explosives and grenades for the attack. Senior Ministers and over 200 Members of Parliament were inside the Central Hall of Parliament when the attack took place. Security personnel sealed the entire premises which saved many lives.

On that day  Constable Kamlesh Kumari was first to spot the terrorist squad. One gunman, wearing a suicide vest, was shot dead; the vest exploded. The other four gunmen were also killed. Five policemen, a Parliament security guard, and a gardener were killed, and 18 others were injured. No minister or any MP was hurt. Indian Government initially accused LeT and JeM to be involved in this attack. 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 Guru/Navjot Sandhu, wife of Shaukat Hussain Guru (one of the accused) was found guilty of a minor charge of concealing knowledge of conspiracy. One of the accused, Mohammad Afzal Guru, was sentenced to the death penalty for the incident.  The execution of Afzal guru was delayed and on 13th Dec 2006, the families of the deceased returned the medals to the government expressing their anguish on the inaction.

Saturday, 30th March 2013 made a turn around…………. the family members of those who lost their lives in the December 2001 Parliament attack, on Saturday took back the gallantry medals, which they had returned to the President in 2006 to protest against the delay in the execution of Afzal Guru, who was convicted in the case.  They thanked Indian President and  received the medals from President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan.  The families had announced that they would take back the medals after Afzal was hanged in February in Tihar Jail. “We thanked the President for passing the orders for hanging Guru and thereby honouring the memories of the martyrs who died on December 13 when Parliament was attacked,” said Vipin, whose father head constable Vijender Singh was among the 10 who lost their lives. Shweta Singh was also present to receive the medal that was presented to her mother CRPF constable Kamlesh Kumari posthumously. She expressed “gratitude” to the President for “rejecting the mercy plea of Guru” and honouring her “mother's martyrdom.”

All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) chairman M.S. Bitta, who accompanied the families to Rashtrapati Bhavan, said he was grateful to the President for giving back the medals. Mr. Bitta also urged the President to clear all the pending death sentence cases, especially of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassins. “Rajiv Gandhi is a martyr and one should risk the government, if required, to hang his assassins,” Mr. Bitta said.

In a memorandum submitted to the President, the AIATF has requested for the reinstating of cash awards, which were earlier announced for the security personnel, who fought the terrorists at the time of the attack on Parliament. The families of CRPF constable Kamlesh, CPWD Watch and Ward personnel M.S. Negi and Parliament security personnel J.P. Yadav returned the Ashok Chakra, while the kin of five police personnel returned the Kirti Chakra. Those who had received the Kirti Chakra were Delhi Police sub-inspectors Ghanshyam and Nanak Chand, assistant sub-inspector Ram Pal and head constables Om Prakash and Vijender Singh.

Certainly, the news of the families of Parliament attack heroes re-accepting bravery medals they returned in protest over Guru execution delay – must find a place in the National headlines.

with regards – S. Sampathkumar
31st Mar 2013.


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