A month on, no word on Afzal’s body
Family Awaits Mortal Remains; Separatists Angry; Tihar Officials Say ‘No Decision Communicated’
Srinagar, Mar 9: A month after the secret execution and burial of Muhammad Afzal Guru in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, there is no official word on the demand of return of his body for performance of last rites back home. This is notwithstanding the fact that the demand has assumed center stage in the Valley with Mutahida Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an amalgam of separatist organizations, spearheading an agitation to press for the return of Guru’s mortal remains.
While Afzal’s family maintains that their “resolve for getting back his body has been strengthened by the overwhelming support of Kashmiris,” political parties in the State, including the mainstream ones, have urged the Government of India to concede to the humanitarian demand “in the interest of peace in Kashmir.”
Guru’s family Saturday accused New Delhi and State Government of buying time on their demand for body. “A month has passed since we wrote to the State Government on the issue. But so far there is no official response to our communiqué,” said Muhammad Yasin Guru, cousin of Afzal Guru. He said both Centre and State are silent on the matter.
“Where would my nephew (Ghalib) offer Fateha of his father? They made him an orphan, ruined his childhood; they did not allow him to meet Afzal for one last time before his hanging. And now they are even denying him the body of his father,” Yasin said, asserting that “there is no question of giving up the demand for body as Afzal loved his motherland and has the right to be buried here.” He said: “We are not begging for something. It is our moral and religious right to give him decent burial. We are not alone in this struggle. The entire Kashmir is whole-heartedly supporting us.”
The Guru family, however, is unimpressed by the demand of mainstream parties seeking Afzal’s body, arguing “they are playing vote- bank politics.”
“If Chief Ministers of Punjab and Tamil Nadu saved convicts whose mercy petitions were rejected by the President, why wasn’t the JK government able to follow the suit?” Yasin asked.
Pertinently, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had written letters, separately, to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking return of Afzal’s body.
Meanwhile, political parties cutting across the party lines slammed the Centre for “being arrogant towards the humanitarian demand.”
Veteran separatist leader and Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani said the “obstinate approach of New Delhi over the human issue clearly demonstrates its arrogance towards Kashmiris.” He sought intervention of international rights organizations in the matter.
Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq echoed the same view. “This shows the non-seriousness and arrogance of New Delhi towards the legitimate demand of Kashmiris and it indicates that they are dealing with overall problem of Kashmir militarily rather than politically,” he said.
Mirwaiz said the conglomerate fully supports and endorses the program of MMM over the issue.
Senior National Conference leader and cabinet minister Ali Muhammad Sagar said that New Delhi should keep in view the sentiments and aspirations of Kashmiris and return the body of Guru. “If the Chief Minister is making the same demand, I think New Delhi should have any objection to it,” Sagar said, adding that acceptance of the demand by New Delhi is in the interests of peace in the Valley which is threatened after Guru’s hanging. Chief spokesman of opposition Peoples Democratic Party Naeeem Akther said return of the body would relieve the pain of Kashmiris to some extent.
“The return of Afzal’s body in present circumstances looks bleak but as long as it is not returned, it seems nothing else can be done to relieve the family and people at large of some pain and humiliation,” Akther told Greater Kashmir.
Terming the demand as a serious issue, Akther said, “Expecting anything or any effective intervention by the state government is futile given that Omar Abdullah has thrown his hands up.”
Meanwhile, authorities at Tihar Jail this evening said the government has not conveyed to them any decision with regard to return of Afzal’s body. “It is for the Government to decide over the matter,” spokesman of Tihar Jail Sunil Gupta told Greater Kashmir over phone.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST
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