Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's tweet over Afzal Guru, who is on the death row in the Parliament attack case, has not only evoked a strong reaction from the Bhartiya Janata Party but has also kick-started a debate in the State.
On mini-blogger Twitter, Mr.Abdullah wrote: “If J&K Assembly had passed a resolution similar to the Tamil Nadu one for Afzal Guru would the reaction have been as muted? I think not.” On Monday, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed a resolution recommending commutation of the death sentence awarded to three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Reacting sharply to Mr. Abdullah's tweet, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said in Delhi: “This is a sensitive issue and Omar Abdullah's comments on it are unfortunate. Had a Hurriyat leader made such remarks it was understandable but a responsible chief minister should not have said so. At a time when the Supreme Court has already given the death sentence, raking up this debate is unfortunate.”
In Srinagar, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, head of the moderate Hurriyat Conference, wondered whether the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly would be able to do so. “If they were so serious they could withdraw the Disturbed Areas Act, which could pave the way for repealing of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act,” the Mirwaiz told The Hindu. He denied having demanded Mr. Abdullah's resignation, but maintained that Afzal Guru's case needed a relook. “Injustice has been done in his case as it has been politicised.” “The case needs to be looked in the right perspective and execution is unjust.”
The Opposition People's Democratic Party president, Mehbooba Mufti, said she did not think that Mr. Abduallah was serious in what he said. “Our stand is clear. We are against the death penalty to Afzal as there is hardly any substantial proof to link him directly [to the attack],” she said. “We have been saying this since we are even in power.”
The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition for Civil Society also believes that perhaps “Mr. Abdullah did not mean what he said.” “If the Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir is powerful, it should have implemented the Resettlement Bill sent back by the Supreme Court after 25 years,” said JKCCS co-ordinator Khurram Parvez.