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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Peace must prevail: Afzal in last letter

Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times   Seer Jagir (Sopore), February 14, 2013
First Published: 01:11 IST(14/2/2013) | Last Updated: 09:18 IST(14/2/2013)

A demand to not be mourned, and a hope for peace after he is gone - that is the sum of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's last letter to his family before he was hanged and buried in Delhi's Tihar jail on Saturday, it is learnt.

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The letter was delivered to the Gurus' house at Seer Jagir, a village in Sopore, around 5.30pm on Wednesday.

His brother Aijaz Guru refused to divulge the exact contents "till the family is out of shock", but he said this much: "It's a very short letter written by a person who was about to be hanged. How elaborate could it be? Yes, it does have beautiful messages for the people as well as the family. This letter will reveal the true character of my brother."

Another family member, who claimed to have read the letter but refused to be named, told HT: "In 4-5 lines, Afzal has asked his family not to mourn his death, not cry. Besides, he hoped peace would prevail after he's gone."

HT could not independently verify the contents of the letter.

"We will show the letter to everyone once things settle down a bit. We want no politics on his death. We have lived through this for the past 12 years," said an apprehensive Aijaz, "We'll say one thing, and something entirely different will come out in the media."

The road to the Gurus' two-storied house in the affluent village has been opened only twice since Afzal's hanging - first on Monday morning to deliver the letter written by the jail superintendent to the family about the news of the execution. And the barricade was removed again on Tuesday evening when Guru's last letter, which had arrived at the Srinagar post office at 4pm on Monday, was to be delivered.

Visitors have to cross a river from the backside of the village to reach the brick house. Just outside in a tented space, loudspeakers play songs of freedom and martyrdom. The sight of a journalist makes people break into slogans against the government and for a demand to get Guru's body.

"We cannot exonerate the state government. How's it possible that CM Omar Abdullah knew nothing?" said some. "The media is hand in glove with him (Omar) and keeps showing whatever suits him," another cried.

The mood inside the house is somber. Huddled among scores of women is Tabassum, Guru's wife of 14 years. With moist eyes, she keeps staring at people and refuses to speak. In her early 30s, Tabassum refuses to even greet women who come for condolences.

Her father Ghulam Mohammad Guru has taken the couple's 13-year-old son Ghalib to her maternal home. "He is in Class 8, and has a long life ahead of him. How would it feel if journalists ask him questions about his father's hanging?" said Ghulam, who shields Tabassum as well: "She is in complete shock. You ask her one thing, and she says something entirely out of context."

For the family, what has happened cannot be reversed and the concern now is to get Guru's body to Srinagar. "They jumped the queue and hanged him before other convicts, only because (Congress vice-president) Rahul Gandhi wants to become the PM and they are scared of  (Gujarat CM and BJP leader) Narendra Modi," said Afzal's cousin Yaseen. "We don't want any assistance to go to Delhi, we can buy 20 tickets tomorrow; but only if we are allowed to get the body back," said Yaseen. "Or may be the government can be kind enough to give us the body in Srinagar."


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