Away from the ruckus in the state assembly and competing nationalistic politics around the discourse of clemency to Afzal Guru, his home in a sleepy Sopore village is a forgotten address of silent anger and a hope against hope. Hussain Danish checked out.
The secluded roadway passing through the Mazbugh Rashtriya Rifles (RR) camp bordering a firing-range with a banner carrying an ‘inspirational’ message that reads “ek terrorist ek goli (one terrorist one bullet)”, leads to Doabgah—hometown of the parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
At mid-day the village looks deserted, unaware of all recent developments related to Guru.
“Is there anything special today?” an elderly neighbor of Guru asked this reporter. “There was a team here earlier this morning also.”
Many do not even seem to know that the old-fashioned two-storied house in their vicinity belongs to someone who has been at the center of media attention for almost a decade now.
“I do not know where they live. Perhaps the house is somewhere upstream,” a middle aged lady coming out of the Guru’s house said. “Ask that shopkeeper there,” she pointed at the shop on the other side of the lane.
Guru’s have always lived here, in the middle of the village near the Chinar tree. But the decade of uncertainty over Guru’s fate and the quantum of punishment pronounced against him in the parliament attack case has turned the family silent. They have an aversion towards statements to media.
“No, we do not want to give any interviews now. We have had enough of it. These interviews yield us nothing,” said Tahira, the middle-aged sister-in-law of Guru.
Sitting at the stairway of the house with two other women, she is the only one in the house at day-time. Her husband and two children are out at work. Guru and his family once lived here jointly with his brothers.
Settled in Sopore, Guru’s wife, Tabasum, and son, Ghalib, have abandoned the house already, but the hope has not, especially, with the new chapter of clemency resolution added to the Guru story.
“We have been carefully listening to every development pertaining to the case,” Tahira finally broke her silence. “No one came to us nor did we go to anyone during this assembly thing, but we still have hope. We hope that he (Guru) will come home.”
Tabassum, however, categorically refused to talk over the issue.
“She does not talk to media,” she returned the message when tried to be contacted.
Tabassum and Ghalib, Guru’s only child, have settled in main town Sopore. According to Tahira, Tabassum looks after the nursing home and Ghalib is studying in standard IV. They rarely come to the house that belonged to them once.
Guru was arrested for conspiracy of the attack on parliament on December 13, 2001. Five armed persons stormed the Parliament House. In the gun battle that lasted thirty minutes, the five attackers, who tried to gain entry into the Parliament when it was in session, were killed. Nine persons including eight security personnel and one gardener succumbed to the bullets and 16 persons including 13 security men received injuries.
Subsequently, Guru along with Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, Shuakat Hussein Guru and Afsana Guru were arrested for involvement in the attack. One year and three days later, three accused, Afzal Guru, Showkat Guru and Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, were sentenced to death by the POTA court. Later, only Guru’s sentence was maintained.
In the recent development in the case, however, a resolution was introduced in the J&K state assembly by MLA Langate Engineer Rashid for Afzal Guru’s clemency.
After much hype, the National parties put up an apparently well planned show in the J&K legislature that eventually suspended the entire listed business including the controversial clemency resolution.
As BJP and Congress remained squabbling in the house, paralyzing it amid intermittent adjournments, regional parties NC and the PDP watched the pandemonium without becoming part of it. Ultimately the assembly was adjourned and all resolution to be moved lapsed.
“Our children (Guru’s and his brother’s) were kids 10 years ago when he (Guru) was arrested. But today they have grown up enough to understand every detail. And, they have been equally concerned about the developments during these recent weeks,” Tahira said.
The separatists have taken a stand against, what they termed stage-managed show in the assembly. While JKLF staged a protest demanding mercy for Guru, the Hurriyat Conference (G) called for protest after Friday prayers. The police, however, acted against the protesters.
Since the day of arrest, Ghalib has lived for years without his father. But his desire to see the father home is intense. “He craves to see his father home,” Tahira said. “We hope that he will see him return one day.”