Afzal tremors run through Valley

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
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  • Updated: Feb 10, 2013 02:31 IST

Although Kashmir refused to react to the hanging of 26/11 gunman Ajmal Kasab, the demand for Afzal Guru's execution by the country's main opposition BJP had already created a sense of unease in the state's summer capital.

Speaking to Hindustan Times in November, Guru's family  had once again appealed for clemency, claiming that there was no 'direct evidence' linking him to the Parliament attack in 2001.

"Kasab was a foreign national who was caught killing innocent people in Mumbai, and Kashmir was as indifferent as any other place.

"But how can he be equated with Guru, who was not present when Parliament was attacked. Besides, Kashmir is a problem and people here feel that anybody killed for being Kashmiri or in the name of Kashmir is a hero,'' said Noor M Baba, professor of political science, Kashmir University.

The family had maintained that he is innocent and had been framed, something that a majority of Kashmir believes.

Social networking sites, mobile messengers are abuzz with messages stating that the trial was unfair.

"A majority of Kashmir believes that even the court judgment says there is no direct evidence against him. The questions most ask is, how can a person be hanged if there is no evidence?'' he added.

"The judge has maintained that in spite of no direct evidence, Guru should be hanged to satisfy the collective consciousness of the nation. That means he was sacrificed to bring closure to the case," said Guru's brother, Aijaz.

Various human rights groups as well as political groups in Kashmir such as the People's Democratic Party believe that Guru did not get a fair trial.

Human rights activists across the country, including Arundhati Roy and Praful Bidwai, had also demanded a reprieve because they believed that the trial was flawed.

The hanging has again turned the political balance in the state. The ruling National Conference and the PDP, despite being guarded in their response, expressed displeasure over the hanging.

A senior National Conference leader said, "Omar Abdullah always wanted to change the death sentence to life term."

PDP spokesman Nayeem Aktar shared his opinion. "Disappointing. We believe that whatever the requirements of the legal process, there was a need for the government to take into consideration the overall political impact of this execution," he said.

PDP has blamed Abdullah for trying to hastily clear his name by saying that the state had no role to play in the act.

Meanwhile, the separatist - who had been struggling to be relevant for some time in the changing political situation - has suddenly found relevance.

Many experts are equating the sentence to the hanging of JKLF leader Maqbool Bhat, who was executed on February 11, 1984.


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