Uproar in J&K assembly over Afzal Guru


Jammu : Tempers ran high in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly Monday during a debate on the hanging of Afzal Guru as an opposition party slammed Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for failure to protect Guru and the ruling National Conference condemned the politicisation of the issue.

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Opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti started the debate, saying it was “inhumane” that Guru’s family was not allowed to meet him one last time before his execution in Delhi Feb 9.

Mehbooba Mufti sought suspension of all regular business of the house to “discuss this issue of urgent nature”. The ruling National Conference and the Communist Party of India-Marxist too wanted a discussion.

Mehbooba Mufti blamed the chief minister for his failure to protect the life of Afzal Guru, convicted for the conspiracy leading to the Dec 13, 2001 attack on parliament.

Guru’s mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee a few days before the execution.

Mehbooba Mufti said: “Had the state government acted in time, Afzal Guru’s life could have been saved. While Tamil Nadu and Punjab could save the lives of the two convicts from their states who were sentenced to death, Omar Abdullah’s government did nothing.”

The remarks drew vehement protests from members of the National Conference.

The chief minister plunged into the discussion, accusing the PDP of “politicising the issue”.

“The PDP makes it appear like I was the one responsible for the hanging of Afzal Guru,” Omar Abdullah said.

In the acidic exchange that followed, PDP members raised slogans and rushed towards the speaker’s podium raising slogans against the government.

Speaker Mubarak Gul had allowed the discussion Monday after first adjourning the house for 10 minutes, following a din when the demand for a discussion on the issue was first raised.

Members of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and independent legislators raised slogans protesting the killing of two policemen in north Kashmir.

Guru was hanged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail and buried within the prison premises. Guru’s family was informed through a letter which reached them 48 hours after the hanging.

His family and some political groups in Kashmir have demanded that the executed prisoner’s mortal remains be returned to his family for burial according to religious traditions.

The issue of debating the matter in the assembly had created fissures between the two parties in the ruling coalition, the National Conference and the Congress.

While the National Conference was in favour of a debate, the Congress was opposed to it.