Omar, Mufti join demand for return of Afzal’s body

As almost all separatist and mainstream leaders surface on the same page, competitive politics over return of the mortal remains thickens

February 27, 2013 12:45 am | Updated November 16, 2021 10:22 pm IST - SRINAGAR:

With most of the Kashmir Valley’s separatist and mainstream political groups joining hands in an effort to get Afzal Guru’s mortal remains back to Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and the People’s Democratic Party chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed too have lent their voice to the campaign.

“I had hoped to avoid playing politics with the body of Afzal Guru, but that seems to be impossible to avoid with the Mufti Sayeed letter now,” Mr. Abdullah tweeted. He was reacting to Mr. Mufti’s “open letter” to the Prime Minister that was made public on Tuesday.

Even while he remained tight-lipped on his meeting with Dr. Singh in New Delhi last week, Mr. Abdullah disclosed: “I had written to the PM on the 19th of this month asking for the return of the bodies of both Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt to their families.” He added through another post: “I followed this up with a visit to the PM to make the request in person a few days ago. My govt will continue to raise this issue with Delhi.”

Apparently upset with Mr. Mufti’s public statement, Mr. Abdullah remarked: “I guess I should have played politics by making the letter public immediately, but am glad the PDP has joined in support now.”

‘Accommodate people’s wishes’

In the letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Mufti wrote: “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 Gurus remains returned to his family for last rites and try to retrieve whatever little can be of the trust of the people in Kashmir.”

The PDP leader contended that returning the body to the bereaved family would assuage some hurt feelings in the Valley and lead to a “way out” of the current crisis. “It would also reduce the pain of his [Guru’s] 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.”

The denial of a “decent burial in accordance with the religious practices of the deceased has created anxiety within the community, even in the rest of the country,” Mr. Mufti added.

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