India condemns Pakistani 'interference' over Afzal Guru

Afzal Guru in December 2002 Afzal Guru's appeal for clemency was rejected

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Indian MPs have condemned what they called "Pakistani interference" over the hanging of a Kashmiri man convicted of a plot to attack India's parliament.

Last month's hanging of Afzal Guru sparked protests across Indian-administered Kashmir. On Thursday Pakistani lawmakers passed a resolution censuring his death.

India rejected this and cancelled a bilateral hockey series with Pakistan.

Analysts say it shows just how far relations have deteriorated recently.

The motion by Pakistan's National Assembly, which also called for Guru's body to be returned to his family, sparked intense anger among Indian lawmakers.

It came after a deadly militant attack on security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, the first serious attack in the disputed region for five years.

The attack was blamed by India on Pakistan-based militants - a charge that Islamabad denies.

Five Indian troops and two attackers were killed. One suspect has been taken into custody.

Indian-administered Kashmir has seen an insurgency against Indian rule since 1989, but violence had declined in recent years.

'Rejects interference'

Hockey India said that it had received a communication from the ministry of external affairs asking it to call off the series, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted officials as saying.

India and Pakistan had planned a five-match series to be played in both countries.

"The house rejects interference in the internal affairs of India and calls upon the National Assembly of Pakistan to desist from such acts of support for extremist and terrorist elements," the Lok Sabha (lower house) resolution, read out by Speaker Meira Kumar, on Friday said.

MPs from India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded the government halt all dialogue with Pakistan in protest.

"Besides interfering in India's internal affairs, the resolution is an official statement by the entire polity of Pakistan endorsing the terrorist attacks," leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) Arun Jaitley said.

India always suspected that Pakistan was behind the 2001 parliament attack, he said, and added that the "resolution seems to have confirmed our fears".

Anger in Kashmir

Guru was hanged in Delhi's Tihar jail in February after his final clemency plea was rejected.

He had always denied plotting the attack, which left 14 dead, including five militants.

His hanging led to an outpouring of anger in Kashmir where many believe that he did not get a fair trial.

The December 2001 attack was one of the most controversial incidents in recent Indian history, correspondents say.

Five rebels stormed India's parliament in Delhi on 13 December 2001, killing a gardener and eight policemen before they were shot dead by security forces.

India blamed the attack on the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, which it said was backed by Pakistan.

Pakistan denied involvement in the attack but relations between the two countries nosedived as their armies massed about a million troops along the border.

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