PDP leader wants back remains of Afzal Guru, Maqbool Bhat
A leader of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the remains of separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder, Maqbool Bhat, and 2001 Parliament attack convict, Afzal Guru.
Bhat was hanged at Delhi’s Tihar jail on February 11, 1984, for the murder of a policeman and his body was buried on the prison premises. Guru, too, was buried at Tihar after his hanging at the prison on February 9, 2013.
“I can with utmost responsibility say that should the Government of India decide to act upon this request [for returning the remains], the animosity of Kashmiris and their sense of alienation can be brought down by several notches,’’ said PDP leader and Rajya Sabha member, Fayaz Mir, in a letter to Modi as a shutdown was observed in Kashmir on Bhat’s 35th death anniversary.
In his letter, Mir cited the demands for clemency for former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s killers. “I do not think it is appalling or disrespectful to seek the return of mortal remains of two Kashmiri men to their families.’’
Mir said Guru was sent to the gallows even though he was at number 28 on the list of death row prisoners. He called his execution and the refusal to return his body “a sore misery and a dark blemish” on the world’s largest democracy. “It was, by all means, an unconstitutional measure and has been called out for its huddled and secretive manner by almost all ideological groups in the country,’’ wrote Mir, whose party lost power in June 2018 after the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew its support to Mufti’s government.
BJP state spooesman Altaf Thakur termed the letter as a political stunt of the PDP. “In four and half years, the MP never raised this issue in the parliament. PDP has done its politics always on the dead bodies and they are doing it again now.”
Separatist Joint Resistance Leadership had called for the shutdown to mark Bhat’s death anniversary on Monday.
Some two dozen JKLF leaders and workers were detained as they tried to take out a protest march in Srinagar against Bhat’s hanging. Several other separatist leaders like Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chairman Yasin Malik were detained ahead of Guru and Bhat’s death anniversaries. Additional security measures were in place in Srinagar and Bhat’s home town of Trehgam, where a demonstration was held to mark his death anniversary on Sunday.