GoI Keeps Option Open For Handing Over Afzal’s Body

GoI Keeps Option Open For Handing Over Afzal’s Body

17 February 2013
Rising Kashmir


New Delhi: While closely monitoring the situation in Kashmir, Government of India (GoI) has not yet closed the option of handing over the body of Muhammad Afzal Guru, who was hanged in Tihar Jail on February 9. It has already conveyed its willingness to allow the family to offer prayers at the grave, which has been subsequently rejected by the latter. Well placed sources told Rising Kashmir that after a strong reaction in the valley over his hanging and the way it was executed, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has himself taken over the control to monitor the situation on daily basis. While it was made known through some newspaper reports that Dr Singh was unhappy at the manner the family was kept in dark, sources said the situation was being followed closely. The government had already indicated that it would allow the family to offer prayers at his grave but they rejected it. Since Kashmir has been raging over the issue particularly the way the family was not allowed the last meeting nor was it able to perform the last rites, the pressure is being mounted within the government by some key people who have been involved in Kashmir’s “Track II business” as also the leaders of Pradesh Congress Committee who feel completely isolated in this situation. A senior Congress leader in Delhi who was very vocal in advocating execution of Guru is learnt to have kick-started the process of impressing upon Government of India to consider the demand for handing over Afzal’s body to his family. “He has conveyed his displeasure over the way the execution was done and is now in forefront to press for the demand,” sources said. Sources also disclosed that leaders of both factions of PCC- Saifuddin Soz and Ghulam Nabi Azad- have also conveyed to the government through the party high command that in order to defuse the situation in the valley the body should be handed over. “They feel hounded after their ally in the government National Conference raised a different pitch and distanced itself from the entire development and are now asking the party to do something to retrace the goodwill on ground in Kashmir,” sources privy to the development said. They said PCC chief Saifuddin Soz also met Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and conveyed the concern to him. Many leaders of Congress were recently in Delhi in connection with the nomination of candidates for the election for members of Legislative Council and they also raised this issue with AICC general secretary incharge J&K Mohan Prakash. It was reliably learnt that the government had not closed the option of handing over the body and all pros and cons were being discussed with various quarters. Even as certain news reports maintained that Jail Manual did not allow to hand over the body but sources pointed out that such a clause would only apply in case there was no claimant. In this particular case, the family was officially informed, through speedpost, two days after Guru was hanged so the clause had no relevance. Sources said Prime Minister might take a final call on the matter very soon after deliberating upon the issue with senior ministers and various levels in bureaucracy. Home Minister Shinde is currently in Guwahati and will return on Tuesday, sources said. Guru’s wife Tabassum has already made a formal request for handing over his body. She has done it through Deputy Commissioner Baramulla. The state government has forwarded it to Ministry of Home Affairs for further action.