A livid Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday put the Congress-led UPA government in the dock over the secretive hanging of Afzal Guru and denying his family its right to meet him. The Centre, he said, would have to prove to the world that it was not a “selective execution.”
Pointing out that the execution would lead to alienation in the Valley, Mr. Abdullah, in an interview to news channel CNN-IBN, termed the hanging a “political decision” and questioned why political parties, particularly the BJP, do not press for the hanging of killers of the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, or that of the former Punjab Chief Minister, Beant Singh.
“Generations of Kashmiris will identify with Afzal Guru... You will have to prove to the world that the death penalty is not used selectively. The onus rests on the judiciary and the political leadership to show that this wasn’t a selective execution,” Mr. Abdullah said, whose National Conference is an ally in the UPA government.
“Why don’t we see the BJP clamouring for execution of Beant Singh’s killers or Rajiv Gandhi’s killers? If that [Afzal Guru’s hanging] was to be the last execution on people who attacked Indian democracy, I would call it a political decision,” he noted.
Though Mr. Abdullah had “premonition” that Afzal Guru’s execution would follow the hanging of the Mumbai attack case convict Ajmal Kasab, he said he would have preferred if Guru had not hanged. Asked what could be the possible fallout, he said it would breed alienation among Kashmiris. “A lot of what happens in the Valley simmers under the surface. There are a few things I need to discuss with the [Union] government over the larger implications,” he added.
Mr. Abdullah also expressed concern over the Centre following the rulebook while carrying out the execution.
“I find it very difficult to reconcile myself to a fact that we executed a person who wasn’t given the opportunity to see his family for the last time... There is something wrong in the system if we are sending information [of execution] through Speed Post [as per jail manual norms] in this era. We could have easily got the family to meet him in Delhi and kept it a secret.”
Asserting that something should have been done to ensure that the family would have had a last hour to spend with him before he was executed, Mr. Abdullah said he would talk to the government about the issue of bringing Afzal Guru’s remains back to the Valley.