JAMMU: Tempers ran high in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly on Monday when a debate on the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was underway. Chief minister Omar Abdullah and the main opposition party Peoples Democratic Party levelled charges against each other.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti started the debate, saying it was “inhumane” that Afzal Guru’s family was not allowed to meet him one last time before the execution was carried out Feb 9.
Mehbooba Mufti sought suspension of all regular business of the house to “discuss this issue of urgent nature”. The ruling National Conference and the Communist Party of India-Marxist too wanted a discussion on the issue in the house.
Mehbooba Mufti blamed the chief minister for his failure to protect the life of Afzal Guru, convicted for the conspiracy that led to the Dec 13, 2001 attack on Parliament.
Afsal Guru’s mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee last month.
Mehbooba Mufti said: “Had the state government acted in time, Afzal Guru’s life could have been saved. While Tamil Nadu and Punjab could save the lives of the two convicts from their states who were sentenced to death, Omar Abdullah’s government did nothing.”
The remarks drew vehement protests from members of the National Conference.
The chief minister plunged into the discussion, accusing the PDP of “politicizing the issue”.
“The PDP makes it appear like I was the one responsible for the hanging of Afzal Guru,” Omar Abdullah said.
In the acidic exchange that followed, PDP members raised slogans and approached the Speaker’s chair raising slogans against the government.
Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker Mubarak Gul had allowed the discussion Monday after first adjourning the house for ten minutes, following a din when the demand for a discussion of the issue was first raised.
Members of the National Panthers Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and independent MLAs raised slogans protesting the killing of two policemen in north Kashmir.
Afzal Guru was hanged to death on Feb 9 after he was found guilty of plotting the attack on the Indian parliament Dec 13, 2001.
Guru’s family was informed of the execution through a letter sent by speed post, which only arrived 48 hours after the hanging.
Guru was buried in Delhi’s Tihar jail.
His family and major political groups in Kashmir are asking for the return of the mortal remains of Afzal Guru, so that a burial can be conducted in accordance with religious tradition.
The issue of debating the matter in the assembly had created fissures between the two parties in the ruling coalition, National Conference and Congress.