The Centre will not hand over Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s body to his family and risk violence in Jammu and Kashmir, the state government has been told.
Home secretary RK Singh conveyed the ministry’s view when the state’s principal resident commissioner RC Goyal called on him last week to hand over a formal request from the Omar Abdullah government to allow Afzal’s family to offer prayers at his grave in Tihar jail.
Afzal, who was hanged on February 9 in Capital, hailed from Doabagh near Sopore in north-western Kashmir. The family has already rejected an offer made by Singh for them to pray at the grave.
The state government’s letter, however, was part of a damage-control exercise in anticipation of separatists and opposition parties hitting out at it for not doing enough to bring the body back.
Government sources suggested that the Omar government didn’t appear keen on the return of Afzal body, worried that protests in a surcharged atmosphere could turn violent, necessitating use of force.
It is for this reason that the state only "forwarded" the letter sent by Afzal's wife, Tabassum, and not made any recommendation.
But chief minister Omar Abdullah will still have to walk a tight rope when the border state's budget session opens on February 28. The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party is expected to use Afzal's execution and the Centre's refusal to return the body to attack the National Conference-Congress coalition. On the other hand, North Kashmir MLA Engineer Rashid has declared his intention to move a resolution demanding that the body be brought home.
Home ministry officials said a communiqué about the Centre's view would be sent in "due course" but emphasised there was "no question" of revisiting the "well thought out" stand.