J&K Assembly Adjourned As Afzal Debate Creates Furore

J&K Assembly Adjourned As Afzal Debate Creates Furore

4 March 2013
Times of India
Sanjay Khajuria

Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir assembly functioned in fits and starts and was finally adjourned without much of a debate over the hanging of Afzal Guru and its repercussions for the valley. Under pressure from almost all major political parties in the state speaker Mubarak Gul had indicated during the weekend that a discussion on the sensitive issue would be allowed on Monday but tempers ran high and charges and countercharges became the order of the day. PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti started the debate saying that it was inhuman that Guru's family was not allowed to meet him one last time before the execution was carried out on February 9. Mehbooba has been at the forefront seeking the suspension of the normal functioning of the house to 'discuss this issue of urgent nature'. The ruling National Conference and the CPI (M) too wanted a discussion. Apart from the Congress party, which is in a quandary being the coalition partner of the ruling National Conference in J&K and the principal party at the Centre that took the call to hang Afzal Guru, all prominent political parties in the valley have raised the issue of the return of Guru's mortal remains to his family. The NC was quick to raise the demand for the return of Guru's body as CM Omar would have been very wary of the delicate law and order situation in the state having seen the stone pelting episode turn ugly and claiming 117 lives in the early part of his rule in 2010. Mehbooba blamed the CM for his failure to protect the life of Guru, convicted for the conspiracy that led to the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament. 'Had the state government acted in time, Guru's life could have been saved. While Tamil Nadu and Punjab could save the lives of the two convicts from their states who were sentenced to death, Omar Abdullah's government did nothing,' Mehbooba said. Members of the National Conference objected vehemently to Mehbooba's remarks. The CM intervened directly and accused the PDP of 'politicizing the issue'. 'The PDP makes it appear like I was the one responsible for the hanging of Afzal Guru,' Abdullah said. PDP members, in the vitriolic exchange that followed after the CM spoke, approached the speaker's chair raising slogans against the government. Gul had allowed the discussion after first adjourning the house for 10 minutes following a disruption by the BJP and the JKNPP MLAs who wanted to discuss the killing of two cops in a militant attack in Handwara on Saturday. They walked out of the House criticizing the government for allowing the PDP to hold discussions on 'anti-nationals' and not allowing them to discuss issues of concern. Guru's family and major political groups in Kashmir are asking for the return of his mortal remains so that a burial can be conducted in accordance with tradition.