2001 Indian Parliament attack
The 2001 Indian Parliament attack was a terrorist attack on the Parliament of India in New Delhi on 13 December 2001. The perpetrators belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), two Pakistan-based terrorist organisations. The attack led to the deaths of five terrorists, six Delhi Police personnel, two Parliament Security Service personnel and a gardener – in total 14 – and to increased tensions between India and Pakistan, resulting in the 2001–02 India–Pakistan standoff.
|2001 Indian Parliament attack|
|Location||New Delhi, Delhi, India|
|Date||13 December 2001 (UTC+05:30)|
|Deaths||14 (including 5 militants)|
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. More than 100 people, including major politicians were inside the parliament building at the time. The gunmen used a fake identity sticker on the car they drove and thus breached the security deployed around the parliamentary complex. The terrorists carried AK47 rifles, grenade launchers, pistols and grenades.
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 shooting. The Vice-President's guards and security personnel shot back at the terrorists and then started closing the gates of the compound. A similar attack was carried out on assembly of Srinagar, Kashmir, during November 2001, when 38 people were killed by terrorists.
Delhi Police officials claimed that gunmen received instructions from Pakistan and the operation was carried out under the guidance of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. In their book The Exile: The Flight of Osama bin Laden, Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy state that then-CIA station chief Robert Grenier and Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin suspected that the ISI had approved the attack in order to force the redeployment of troops under the command of Ali Jan Aurakzai away from the Durand Line, allowing Osama bin Laden to escape into Pakistan during the Battle of Tora Bora.
Constable Kamlesh Kumari of the Central Reserve Police Force was the first to spot the terrorists and was shot by them as she raised the alarm. She died on the spot. One gunman's suicide vest exploded when he was shot dead; the other four gunmen were also killed. The ministers and MPs escaped unhurt. The total number of deaths was 14 and at least 22 people were injured in the attack.
Delhi Police stated that five terrorists carried out the attack and the names given by them were: Hamza, Haider alias Tufail, Rana, Ranvijay and Mohammed, who were the members of Lashkar-e-Taiba were killed. An Indian court observed that three more people from Pakistan, namely Masood Azhar, Ghazi Baba alias Abu Jehadi and Tariq Ahmed, were also involved in preparing the attack.
The attack triggered extensive investigations which revealed involvement of four accused, namely Mohammad Afzal Guru, Shaukat Hussain Guru (cousin of Afzal Guru) and S.A.R. Gilani (Syed Abdul Rahman Gilani) and Shaukat's wife Afsan Guru (Navjot Sandhu before marriage). Some other proclaimed offenders were said to be the leaders of the banned terrorist 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 (IPC), the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA), and the Explosive Substances Act by the designated sessions Court.
The designated Special Court was presided over by S. N. Dhingra. The accused were tried 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 of IPC, sub-Sections (2), (3) and (5) of Section 3 and Section 4(b) of POTA and Sections 3 and 4 of Explosive Substances Act. The accused 1 and 2 were also convicted under Section 3(4) of POTA.
Accused 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. He 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.
Two Delhi Police officials, ACP Rajbir Singh and Mohan Chand Sharma can be credited for gathering prima facie evidence in the case. Singh was later shot dead by a friend over a property deal and Sharma was killed during the Batla House encounter with terrorists in Delhi.
The Indian Government initially accused Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed of involvement in the attack. However, Lashkar-e-Taiba denied any involvement in the incident. In November 2002, four JeM members were arrested 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 death 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, "We 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, the Border Security Force (BSF) killed Ghazi Baba, the commander-in-chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed and the mastermind of the attack, in the Noor Bagh neighborhood of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.
Afzal Guru, sentenced to death by Indian court and due to be hanged on 20 October 2006, 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. The family of Kamlesh Kumari Jatav, a CRPF Jawan who died in the attack has said that they would return the Ashok Chakra, if the president accepted the petition, and 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 then President of India Pranab Mukherjee. He was hanged in Delhi's Tihar Jail at 8:00 A.M. on 9 February 2013, and buried in Tihar jail with full religious rites.
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The names of the terrorists given by Delhi Police were Hamza, Haider alias Tufail, Rana, Ranvijay and Mohammed.
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Ms. Guru (formerly Ms. Navjot Sandhu) had been sentenced to five-years rigorous imprisonment on the lesser charge of concealing knowledge of the conspiracy.
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Home Minister LK Advani made an indirect reference to Pakistan, saying that "clues" following the attack showed that "a neighbouring country, and some terrorist organisations active there behind" the attack.
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Though Afzal Guru’s mercy petition file came to Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 4, 2011 (when Ms. Patil was in office), Mr. Mukherjee, after taking charge, sent the file back on November 15, 2012 to the Home Ministry for a fresh look. The Home Ministry returned the file to the President on January 23 this year, and he sent it back, rejecting the petition, on February 3, paving the way for Saturday’s execution.
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Thereafter Afzal’s body was taken down from the gallows and buried with full religious rites near Jail No. 3, right next to the grave of Kashmiri separatist Maqbool Butt who too was hanged in Tihar.