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Karat talks of stand ‘so far’

New Delhi, Feb. 11: CPM general secretary Prakash Karat today backed Sitaram Yechury’s virtual endorsement of Afzal Guru’s execution but appeared to leave room for manoeuvre, saying that was his party’s stand “so far”.

The hint of a possible review came as the party found itself isolated within the wider Left fraternity, with both the CPI and the CPI-ML (Liberation) taking a different stand.

“Since many of us (politburo members) are out of Delhi, we will give a formal reaction on Wednesday,” Karat said, asked about his party’s position on the hanging of the Parliament attack convict.

Karat, however, backed the stand taken by politburo member Yechury. PTI had quoted Yechury as saying: “I think the law of the land with all its provisions has finally been completed as far as the Afzal Guru case and the attack on the Indian Parliament is concerned. The issue which had been lingering for the past 11 years has finally completed its due course.”

“That’s our stand so far,” Karat said, asked about Yechury’s reaction on the day of Afzal’s execution.

The news agency reported Yechury’s reaction soon after the hanging, when information was sketchy.

The CPI, which came out with a formal response today, criticised the government for “gross violation of procedures and rule of law”.

A statement from the CPI’s central secretariat said the authorities did not wait for completion of the “judicial process after rejection of the mercy petition that includes (the) right to (a) fresh review petition”.

The party also slammed the government for denying Afzal’s family in Kashmir a last meeting and called for corrective steps to address the sense of alienation among Kashmiris.

The CPI’s stand appeared sympathetic to the position taken by another Left group.

“The hanging of Afzal Guru at the crack of dawn... done in an extremely secretive manner without even informing his family, will be recognised by every justice-loving person as a case of justice being hanged to appease the communal fascist(s) who want to make Narendra Modi India’s Prime Minister,” said a statement released by CPI-ML (Liberation) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya on Saturday.

Afzal’s early-morning execution is not the only issue on which the CPM has recently found itself overshadowed by other Left outfits, particularly the CPI-ML (Liberation).

Student and women’s wings affiliated to the CPI-ML (Liberation) took active part in the recent protests in Delhi after the bus gang rape. CPM cadres were pushed to the sidelines.

Sources said there was a wider feeling that the CPM had lost attraction among youths — evident from its isolation in JNU over supporting Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for President — which could harm the party’s growth.

Journalist claim

Press Council chairperson Justice Markandey Katju has written to the Union home ministry questioning the alleged detention of Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Gilani by Delhi police special cell officers hours after Afzal’s hanging.

Gilani is the son-in-law of Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

In the letter to home secretary R.K. Singh, Katju demanded action against the officials, saying they should be suspended and chargesheeted if the allegation was correct.

On Saturday morning, Gilani and his wife were allegedly detained for nearly five hours by the officers who also locked their two school-going children in the bedroom of their flat.