Omar Briefs PM On Kashmir Situation Post-Guru Hanging

Omar Briefs PM On Kashmir Situation Post-Guru Hanging

21 February 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today gave a detailed briefing to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on security scenario prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir, mainly the Kashmir Valley, in the aftermath of execution of 2001 Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guruís execution in Tihar jail on February 9. This was second one-to-one meeting between Dr Singh and Omar during past about 20 days. The Chief Minister had met Dr Singh for about an hour on January 31 discussing financial and other requirements of the State. Reliable sources told the Excelsior that the Prime Minister took detailed briefing on Kashmir situation from the Chief Minister during past 12 days after Afzal Guru was hanged. They said the briefing was necessitated as budget session of the Parliament got underway today with Presidentís Address to joint session of the two Houses. The UPA Government headed by Dr Singh felt that some political parties could raise the issue of Afzal Guruís secret hanging without informing his family in Sopore and burial of his body in Tihar jail. Since the execution of Guru, some parts of the Kashmir Valley have been witnessing disturbances with several towns observing shutdown, protesters engaging police and para-military with stone pelting and senior separatists kept under house arrest. Today again, authorities had to impose curfew like restrictions in Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley to ward off any fresh trouble after Friday prayers tomorrow. Sources said the Prime Minister needed a detailed briefing from the Chief Minister not only on security scenario prevailing in the Valley but other aspects pertaining to execution of Guru as the UPA geared up to face some tough questions from few Opposition parties on the secret hanging, which has been questioned by various legal luminaries and academicians including Fali S Nariman. While budget session of Parliament began today with Presidentís Address, the budget session of the State Legislature is starting on February 28 with Governorís Address to joint session of Legislature. Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress coalition Government was already expecting major trouble in the Assembly from principle Opposition party, the PDP and some other parties and Independents on the secret execution of Guru. Sources said the UPA Government had to take a stand in the Parliament on the execution of Afzal Guru in response to queries of some Opposition parties. Various Opposition parties in addition to legal luminaries like Fali S Nariman and academicians including Janata Dal (United), an ally of NDA, have questioned the secret hanging of the Parliament attack convict. Sources added that the UPA Government wanted to be abreast with the situation in the Kashmir Valley not only to face the Parliament but also take necessary steps and help the State Government to ensure that it didnít go out of control like 2010 summer unrest. The Chief Minister, however, apprised the Prime Minister that situation has been handled with utmost restraint with people being allowed to hold peaceful protests. He told Dr Singh that para-military CRPF and police have been directed not to use excessive force against the protesters. It may be mentioned here that three persons had died in initial days of protests while thereafter the para-military and police have handled the protests with restraint. The Chief Minister is understood to have apprised the Prime Minister that the State Government has forwarded request of Afzal Guruís family to the Union Home Ministry through official channels for return of his body, which was buried in Tihar jail after execution. He reportedly apprised Dr Singh of the sentiments of the people that body of Guru should be handed over to his family for performing last rites. The situation that could arise in the event of handing over the body of Guru to his family in Sopore was also discussed, sources said. A day after the execution, Omar, in interviews to electronic media channels, had criticized the Government for not informing the family of Guru about the hanging and instead using speed post for the purpose. He had said that present generation of Kashmir might not identify itself with Maqbool Bhat but they would definitely identify them with Afzal Guru. The Prime Minister had openly snubbed Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde for not informing the family of Guru in advance about his execution. He had expressed his displeasure to the Home Minister on the issue. Omar Abdullah was also expecting stormy budget session in the State on the issue of Guruís execution especially with main Opposition, the PDP and some other parties going all out to take on the Governments-both Centre and State-on the issue. Sources said the Chief Minister also utilized his meeting with the Prime Minister for again raising financial requirements of the State including a healthy annual plan for next financial year, release of pending plan amount for current fiscal, sanction of Phase-II of Prime Ministerís Re-construction Plan (PMRP) and funding under other Centrally Sponsored Schemes. This was second one-to-one meeting between Dr Singh and Omar in just about last 20 days. On January 31, Omar had met Dr Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde while on February 1, he had called on Finance Minister P Chidambaram projecting financial needs of the State, both in short and long terms.