Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday slammed the execution of Afzal Guru and said this would reinforce a sense of alienation and injustice among the youth in the Valley. He also said it was a “tragedy” that Afzal was not allowed to meet his family before he was hanged and not allowed a “final farewell”.
The 43-year-old Parliament attack convict was hanged in Tihar Jail, Delhi, yesterday.
The Chief Minister observed that the long-term implications of the hanging were “far more worrying” as they were related to the new generation of youth in Kashmir “who may not have identified with Maqbool Bhat but will identify with Afzal Guru.” Bhat, a Kashmiri separatist leader, was hanged in Tihar jail in 1984 for the murder of Indian diplomat Ravindra Mhatre in the UK.
“Please understand that there is more than one generation of Kashmiris that has come to see themselves as victims, that has come to see themselves as a category of people who will not receive justice,” said Omar. “The execution... has reinforced that point that there is no justice for them, and that, to my mind, is far more disturbing and worrying than the short-term implications on the security front,” he added.
Omar said as long as the capital punishment exists, there should be no “pick and choose”. “The onus rests on the judiciary and the political leadership to show that this wasn’t a selective execution,” he said.
“There are others on death row who are also implicated in attacks on democracy. Is the chief minister of a state not a symbol of democracy? Is a former prime minister not a symbol of democracy? Of course, he is,” he said, referring to the death row convicts in the cases of assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
On Afzal’s family not being allowed to meet him, Omar said, “I cannot reconcile myself to the fact that his (Afzal) family was not allowed to see him before he was executed. That to my mind, on a human level, is the biggest tragedy of this execution.”
He also questioned the rationale of informing Afzal’s family living in the Valley through post, saying the reliability of the medium itself was questionable.