Sunday, December 13, will mark 19 years since the deadly attack on Parliament by terrorist groups linked to Pakistan. Senior Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) leader LK Advani who was then the home minister called the attack “the most audacious, and also the most alarming, act of terrorism”.
On this day in 2001, a five-member suicide squad comprising Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists attacked Parliament house, while the Lok Sabha was in session: the Houses were adjourned at the time of the attack, but several parliamentarians and staff were present inside the building.
The attackers came in an Ambassador car, and were able to gain entry because of a forged government sticker. But as the car moved inside the Parliament complex, one of the staff members became suspicious. The vehicle was thus forced to turn back and in the course, hit then vice president Krishan Kant’s vehicle.
The gunmen, armed with AK-47s and grenades, then got down and opened fire. The attack lasted for about 30 minutes, and all the five terrorists were neutralised outside the building itself. However, five security personnel of Delhi Police, one woman constable of the CRPF and two security assistants of Parliament Watch and Ward section died preventing the entry of terrorists into Parliament House. A gardener and a photojournalist too lost their lives.
BJP leader L K Advani said in the Lok Sabha that the attack “was executed jointly by Pakistan-based and supported terrorist outfits, namely, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. These two organisations are known to derive their support and patronage from Pak ISI.”
Within days, four people were arrested and charged as masterminds of the attack. The case against the four – Mohammed Afzal Guru, Shaukat Hussain, Afsan Guru and SAR Geelani – went on for about a decade, with the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court eventually acquitting two, and upholding the death sentence of one.
Geelani, a professor in Delhi University, was acquitted for “need of evidence” by the Delhi high court in 2003, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005. Afsan Guru, too, was cleared of charges and Hussain served jail time. Afzal Guru was hanged in 2013. (Daily Sikh News)