Family Spurns Prayer Offer, Asks For Body

Family Spurns Prayer Offer, Asks For Body

12 February 2013
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
Imran Ahmed Siddiqui

New Delhi: Afzal Guru’s family today spurned Union home secretary R.K Singh’s offer to let them visit his grave in Tihar jail and demanded that his body be handed over so it could be buried in his hometown. “We want his body to be returned to us so that it can be buried at his hometown (Sopore in Kashmir). We are not interested in the government’s belated offer to let us visit his grave in prison,” Yasin Guru, Afzal’s cousin told The Telegraph from Kashmir over phone. Yasin’s snub came hours after Singh said in the afternoon that the Centre would make all arrangements if the family wanted to visit Afzal’s grave to offer zyarat (prayers). “We have no problem if the immediate family of Afzal Guru wants to come and offer prayers at his grave in Tihar jail. We are ready to provide all the possible help in this regard,” Singh said. But the family, which had earlier wanted to offer prayers at his grave, today said they would not settle for anything less than Afzal’s body. “They denied the family basic human rights and did not inform us before hanging him. We do not need to go to the jail in Delhi to pray for his departed soul. We are praying from here everyday. We will go there only when they promise us to hand over his body,” Yasin said. “Even if they agree to our demand, we will go to Delhi on our own as we do not want any favour from this government. Enough is enough.” Home ministry sources said the Centre was unlikely to give in to the family’s demand as it could lead to repercussions in the valley and spark law-and order problems. “If they want to go (to the grave), it can be considered,” home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had told a media conference yesterday. The government is under attack for not allowing Afzal’s family to meet him before his execution last Saturday. The family said they learnt he had been hanged from television news channels. A letter from Tihar jail informing the family of his hanging reached them yesterday. Nandita Haksar, one of the lawyers who represented Afzal, today met the DG (prisons), Tihar jail, and demanded that his body be handed over to the family. “I have submitted a letter on behalf of the family in which they have asked for his body to be buried in his hometown as well as all his belongings, including his spectacles and his writings. Now the family is not interested in visiting Tihar only to pray at his grave,” she said. The home secretary said Afzal’s belongings would be handed over to his family.