New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking return of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's body to his family. In tune with the state government, leader of opposition party - People's Democratic Party - Mufti Sayeed has also sent a letter to the Prime Minister saying the act could "retrieve trust" of the people.
Guru was hanged and buried in the premises of Tihar Jail in Delhi on February 9. Since his execution, there have been demands from Jammu and Kashmir that the body should be handed over to his family. Recently, the government said that it will allow Guru's family to visit Tihar Jail to offer prayers at his grave.
The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister had strongly condemned Guru's hanging saying he would have preferred if the execution had not taken place. "I had a sense that Afzal Guru would be executed sooner rather than later. Generations of Kashmiris will identify with Afzal Guru. You will have to prove to the world that the death penalty is not used selectively. The onus rests on the judiciary and the political leadership to show that this wasn't a selective execution," he had said in an interview to CNN-IBN.
Meanwhile, Mufti Sayeed in his letter to the Prime Minister said: "I am writing this letter after an agonising fortnight that in my opinion witnessed all the effort at rebuilding a relationship of trust between Kashmir and rest of the country almost evaporate into thin air."
He contended the manner in which Guru was executed in secrecy and "very obvious unholy haste is not just another hugely negative reference point in our painful history but it could have the potential to redefine the very nature of how the people here would view their status within the union".
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said he was "deeply anxious" about its possible effect on younger generations "who had been struggling to come out of a nightmarish experience of life marked by blood and tragedy". He said that an overwhelming majority of people here and most of the secular, liberal public opinion in the country have expressed their reservations about the quality of trial Afzal received.
"While it is too late now to mention that beyond its academic and historical significance it is the events that preceded and followed the hanging that have become such a sore point the like of which I have not witnessed in my fifty years of public life."
"The fact that the feeling of pain and anger did not erupt the way some had perhaps apprehended may not be construed as an absence of it," he contended. Hitting out at the government, he said: "Never in a democracy of our size and quality is a convict culled out of a queue from serial number 28 and sent to gallows."
"Never is a dying convict denied a last meeting with his family. Never is a condemned man denied what is now established as a last chance to seek judicial intervention after spending 12 years in jail."
"The people of Kashmir felt he was hanged because the noose fitted only the neck of a man of Afzal's description and given the sad history of state's association with the union, they easily relate themselves with his fate," Sayeed said. Public opinion cutting across political affiliations in Kashmir has demanded that Afzal's body be returned to his family for an honourable burial as per Islamic rites.
(With additional information from IANS)