Mufti Writes To PM, Demands Afzal’s Body

   

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Srinagar

PDP Patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Tuesday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in which he reiterated the demand of his party to return mortal remains of Mohammad Afzal Guru for proper burial and last rites. Here is the text of the Letter.

    My dear Dr Manmohan Singh Jee.

I am writing this letter after an agonising fortnight that in my opinion witnessed all the effort at rebuilding a relationship of trust between Kashmir and rest of the country almost evaporate into thin air. The manner in which Mohammad Afzal Guru was executed in secrecy and very obvious unholy haste is not just another hugely negative reference point in our painful history but it could have the potential to redefine the very nature of how the people here would view their status within the union. And I am deeply anxious about its possible fall out on our younger generations who had been struggling to come out of a nightmarish experience of life marked by blood and tragedy.

An overwhelming majority of people here and most of the secular, liberal public opinion in the country have expressed their reservations about the quality of trial Afzal received. While it is too late now to mention that beyond its academic and historical significance it is the events that preceded and followed the hanging that have become such a sore point the like of which I have not witnessed in my fifty years of public life. The fact that the feeling of pain and anger did not erupt the way some had perhaps apprehended may not be construed as an absence of it. I had since the very beginning pleaded for commutation of the death sentence keeping all the factors in view. But even though your government has been seeking advice on matters when things look bad as in 2010 when an all party conference was convened, you completely ignored the voices of sanity on Afzal’s hanging.

The sad facts of the run up to the hanging will unfortunately stand out for their peculiar characteristics that don’t convey to J&K a message of being equal partners in the idea of India, much less showing any sense of accommodation or respect for the sentiments of a majority of its residents. Never in a democracy of our size and quality is a convict culled out of a queue from serial number 28 and sent to gallows. Never is a dying convict denied a last meeting with his family. Never is a condemned man denied what is now established as a last chance to seek judicial intervention after spending 12 years in jail. The people of Kashmir felt he was hanged because the noose fitted only the neck of a man of Afzal’s description and given the sad history of state’s association with the union they easily relate themselves with his fate.

This unfortunate event came at a time when you as prime minister and your distinguished predecessor Mr Vajpayee had invested a great deal in a peace process that in spite of setbacks had the potential of  rewriting the destiny of South Asia. It happened after the people of the state had reposed their faith in democratic methods and processes even in the face of odds and the failure of the establishment to respond in a matching measure. The result is an uneasy, forcibly implemented  calm and an internalized anger; ingredients for an unpredictable future.

I am writing to you not to seek any concessions for the state but am suggesting a way out to restore to some extent the prestige lost by the country in the entire sequence of events around the hanging. It would also reduce the pain of his family and perhaps open the way for some rebuilding of bridges at the psychological level between Kashmir and rest of the country. I have already said that the return of Afzal Guru’s remains to his family is the minimum that government of India could do to apply some balm to a deep wound. Needless to mention the denial of a decent burial in accordance with the religious practices of the deceased has created anxiety within the community even outside the state in rest of the country.

I request you to take necessary measures to accommodate the wishes of the people of the state and a majority of them in the country to have Afzal Guru’s remains returned to his family for last rites and try to retrieve whatever little can be of the trust of the people in Kashmir.
                                                                                       Yours Sincerely.

                                                                                     (Mufti Mohammad Sayeed)

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