Separatist and mainstream politicians intensify efforts to retrieve Guru’s body

Facing allegations of leaving the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru “defenceless,” Kashmir High Court Bar Association [HCBA] has claimed that Guru had turned down its offer of defending him.

“We followed every possible legal procedure to save Mohammad Afzal Guru’s life. We also offered him free legal services to plead his case during our visit to Tihar Jail but he refused, saying that he had a Supreme Court counsel as his attorney,” the Bar’s president Zaffar Qureishi and others of the association claimed at a news conference, adding: “Mr. Guru’s family never approached the Bar for legal assistance, but we visited him several times and offered him our services to defend him at the courts in Delhi.”

The HCBA claimed that it visited Tihar, enquired about the Kashmiri prisoners’ conditions and interacted with Guru and others several times. It claimed that the Parliament attack accused was resolute, dedicated and committed to the cause of Kashmiri separatism all through his detention and trial.

Contrary to the Guru’s last letter, released to media by the Guru family on Sunday, the HCBA claimed he was “highly perturbed” over the disintegration of the separatist leadership. “It was his will to see the Hurriyat Conference united.”

The association, which has been publicly espousing the separatist cause and served as a constituent of the undivided Hurriyat Conference from 1993 to 2003, was accused of leaving Guru in the lurch at the trial court. The National Conference termed it as “betrayal,” and accused the HCBA of being “complicit” in the prosecution’s efforts to eliminate Guru.

The HCBA had earlier castigated the NC and held its leaders, including Omar Abdullah and the former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, for facilitating the executions of JKLF leader Maqbool Bhat and Guru, both of who were executed at the Tihar Jail and interred there. The HCBA is among a host of the separatist and mainstream political and non-political outfits which have stepped up the campaign to seek the custody of the mortal remains of Guru. The JKLF on Monday called for a shutdown on February 22, and asserted it would continue its campaign to seek the mortal remains of Mr. Bhat and Mr. Guru.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of the Hurriyat’s radical faction, who has been living in New Delhi since December last, issued his first “shutdown calendar” and asked the Kashmiris to remain firm, united and resolute in retrieving Guru’s mortal remains. He called for complete shutdown on February 20 and 21 and for half-a-day on Friday February 22.

Others who have jumped on the bandwagon include CPI (M) state secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti to the ‘Grand Mufti’ Basheer-ud-din and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salah-ud-din. The Hizbul supremo has, however, disliked a manifestation of “begging” of the current struggle. He counselled the Kashmiris against “beseeching” the Indian government and the President and alleged that all of them were characters of the “judicial murder.”