Demonstrators hold placards during a protest to condemn the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru. -Photo by Reuters

Kashmir Valley is on edge after the news of Afzal Guru’s hanging broke on Saturday morning, as pro-resistance Kashmiri leaders condemned the action while some labelled it “open oppression against the people” of disputed Jammu and Kashmir.

Mohammad Afzal Guru — convicted by the Indian Supreme Court in connection with the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament— was hanged inside Tihar jail at 8 AM on February 9. Maqbool Butt, a well-known Kashmiri resistance leader who was declared guilty for killing a bank manager in North Kashmir, was also hanged to death in the same jail 29 years ago.

And just as Butt’s body was buried inside the jail to avoid violent clashes, the same was done for Guru.

India’s President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected Guru’s clemency plea (filed by his wife Tabassum in 2006) on 23 January, 2013. After Ajmal Kasab, Guru is the second individual linked with “terror activities” to have been awarded the capital punishment under Mukherjee’s tenure.

Omar Abdullah, the beleaguered Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, confirmed that his government was kept in the loop regarding this decision. Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), the principal opposition in Jammu and Kashmir, has also condemned the hanging while launching a scathing attack on the Omar-led coalition state government.

Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who are presently in New Delhi, have been placed under house arrest.

Many in India, including politicians from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), are upbeat over Guru’s hanging. The BJP leaders welcomed the decision of hanging Guru but questioned why it took so long. Awarding or abolishing the capital punishments is actually a Catch-22 for India’s 66-year-old democracy.

Narendra Modi, projected by some quarters as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the upcoming Parliamentary polls in 2014, expressed his joy over Guru’s hanging by tweeting: “Better late than never.”

While the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government in New Delhi may have been successful in building its image of “no soft pedalling on terror” by rejecting the mercy pleas of both Kasab and Guru, there is a serious concern in some sensitive circles whether it was about time to abolish the death penalty in India, a country which aspires for a bigger role and responsibility in the world affairs in the near future.

Gautam Navlakha, a prominent human rights defender based in New Delhi, voiced his serious concern over death penalties in general and Guru’s hanging in particular.

“We are against the death penalty. It has been our demand since day one that the capital punishment should be abolished in India. In a way, the decision to hang Afzal Guru, I think, is a ‘judicial murder’,” Navlakha told Dawn.com on the phone. “When you don’t allow a person a fair trial and a chance to defend himself, you are being unfair,” he added.

Meanwhile, the authorities have placed the entire Kashmir Valley under strict curfew. Reports say that loudspeakers were used in the summer capital, Srinagar, and other important towns of the Valley to announce and clamp curfew.

Section-144, which prohibits assembly of more than four persons, is imposed in certain sensitive parts of the Valley. People have been urged to stay indoors, but reports regarding the spontaneous protests from North Kashmir’s major towns like Baramulla and Sopore continue to pour in.

Hundreds of people had started marching towards Doabugh, Guru’s home town in North Kashmir and incidents of rock throwing and clashes with the Indian police were also reported from some areas of Indian administered Kashmir.

The Indian Supreme Court had sentenced Afzal Guru to death in 2002. According to the Indian authorities, Guru was found guilty of “facilitating” the attack on India’s Parliament in 2001. Nine people, including security guards and officials, were killed in the attack.

Delhi Police had also claimed to have recovered a cash of one million INR from Guru’s possession, which according to them was being given to him to help Jaish-e-Muhammad JeM militants to launch the attack.

However, Guru’s family and friends and many resistance leaders in Kashmir reject the police claims, saying that he was not given a “fair trial”.

Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI), the socio-politico-religious party in Jammu and Kashmir, has strongly condemned the act of hanging Guru. “The hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru in Tihar jail mysteriously is an expression of extreme despotism and tyranny by the Government of India which the JeI vehemently condemns, considering it an open oppression against the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” said the Jama’at’s chief spokesperson, Advocate Zahid Ali in an e-mailed press release.

“The action has deeply hurt the sentiments of more than one crore Kashmiris in particular and the Muslim population in general,” the JeI statement added.

Many in Kashmir are demanding that the mortal remains of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Butt be handed over to their families in Kashmir.

Sajad Lone, the pro-freedom-turned pro-India politician, is one among them.

“Mortal remains of Afzal Guru belong to this land. As a Kashmiri, not as a politician, I think Guru’s mortal remains should be given to his family,” Lone told Indian television channel CNN-IBN.

An anti-India armed uprising had erupted in Kashmir only five years after Butt’s hanging in 1984. It remains to be seen whether Guru’s hanging has actually sown the seeds for a “fresh anti-India revolution” in Kashmir, as many in Kashmir believe it may have already done so.

The writer is a professional journalist with international experience. He has worked as editor at Deutsche Welle in Bonn, Germany. Previously, he has also contributed features to the BBC web. Feedback at gowhargeelani@gmail.com.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (59)

Gautam
February 12, 2013 10:03 pm
I say it should be implemented more frequently !
Devil
February 12, 2013 8:04 pm
forgot to add a smiley ;)
shrirang Navi Mumbai
February 12, 2013 4:30 pm
khan bhai you forgot to mention Hakimullah Mehsud who is hero of tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.
sunny
February 12, 2013 4:02 am
Pakistan is going to implode -- sooner or later. This is the opinion of many US Think Tanks. They do not just state their opinions, they (US) make it happen. So, India does not need to do anything. However, India should learn from Bangladesh -- 5 to 10 million illegal immigrants all over India. As Pakistan disintegrates, millions could spill over India. That is my biggest fear. This article talks about 'unfair' trial but ignores the fact that three other accused were either freed or given lesser sentence. Also, Supreme Cout Judges in India have given many rulings against the powers-that-be; they are not easily influenced. Final death sentence came from The Supreme Court. BTW, I am against Capital Punishment -- state should not be in the business of killing. There are sentences worse than 'death'. Have you ever heard of Gulag and Stalin?
Wachucha
February 12, 2013 6:43 pm
You Indians are living in a dream world. The fact is that you never accepted the neighboring countries's sovereign rights. You as a state want to bully the region. If Pakistan implodes INDIA will disintegrate so rapidly that you wouldn't know which one started first.
open minded
February 11, 2013 2:49 pm
We must hang many more who are nonstate actors , who so ever he is. Afzal hanged is positive sign and people like him must be hanged as soon as possible. Good hai
Ali
February 11, 2013 2:50 pm
indians are day dreaming like you since 1947 and will keep on dreamimg.
S.P.Bansal
February 12, 2013 12:46 pm
We can pay him for his act in COMEDY CIRCUS. At least we all shall have a hilarious time.
Cyrus Howell
February 12, 2013 4:59 pm
"As Pakistan disintegrates, millions could spill over India." In which case there would be fighting at the borders.
Javeed
February 12, 2013 4:51 pm
Afzal Guru is a martyr, liberation from india is every kashmiris dream. How long could india supress the voices of kashmiris. Kashmir is fighting for its freedom & it has nothing to do with pakistan. India can brand every kashmiri a terrorist but that will not deter kashmiri struggle for liberation.
Nish
February 12, 2013 10:12 am
Don't be so over confident, India does not need to as people themselves are so much for it. They are doing this to themselves. India does not have time, money and energy to invest so much on a dying country.
Sandy
February 11, 2013 7:24 pm
correct.
Jeet
February 12, 2013 8:59 am
Mohammad Afzal Guru was hanged on February 9th and within 24-48 hours this writer says that Kashmir is on the boil.Good piece of investigative journalism.
rahul pathak
February 12, 2013 3:56 pm
LOL ...reading comments here....one might think, it is indian newspaper
AWK
February 12, 2013 8:56 am
Well India is already playing the dirty game in Balochistan...but you should worry more about the seperatist movements within India.....and btw all that happens in India is not Pakistan's interference .......
Mukul Sehgal
February 12, 2013 3:07 pm
He did it for money, did u even see his interview?
SK
February 12, 2013 3:25 am
Hey Wake up its morning now!!
Ravi
February 12, 2013 3:13 pm
First of all, what you said..could you please elaborate one more time. Your own writing is beyond English Vocabulary .. :-S
Ash
February 12, 2013 4:37 pm
You are absolutely right!! I appreciate your knowledge...please inculde US soilders also as they killed many people in afganistan and Iraq and also killing pakistani ..to save their mother land.. they will be remembered as a pious man who wanted to free the world from the islamic terrorists
sagecaptial
February 12, 2013 3:15 am
Good to see the rule of law prevail wish it would prevail more often
Soomro
February 12, 2013 1:45 pm
He is ill.. You can wait and enjoy Digvijat singh for the time being.When he will be ready to perform again only then you can switch gears from singh to Malik again.good luck.
Asif Kahsmiri
February 12, 2013 12:51 pm
Agreed.
Soomro
February 12, 2013 1:43 pm
He was a great man, May Afzal's soul rest in peace Amin.
turk duniya
February 12, 2013 2:38 am
democracy shining in india, learn baby learn. 1.2 billion living together and no muslim is leaving .
True Indian
February 12, 2013 2:25 am
Where is Rehman Malikj.....havent heard from him for a long time since SRK issue...one of my favourite comedians....
arman
February 12, 2013 1:32 pm
Very very true!!!
farhaz
February 12, 2013 1:28 pm
Ohhh...do you know who they are Mr Arvind? Why don't you enlighten us with your information..and stop passing irresponsible statements like a politician...?
KHAN
February 12, 2013 2:03 am
All 274 haters who liked this comment and spreading hate against Pakistan, do you know what does it really mean to break Pakistan ? it means a full scale nuclear war that would kill at least 200 million people on both sides, 100 million on each side. Are you willing to sacrifice yourselves and your families for this hate. If you have a little sense stop liking this kind of crazy comments and support peace process.
Iqbal khan
February 12, 2013 12:36 am
He was terrorist and he got what he deserved.
Pankaj
February 11, 2013 12:52 pm
I Am From Jammu & Kashmir, I was there in town on Saturday juts few 10-15 persons were demonstrating, Curfew was mild, on Monday life is back to normal. Well nothing is on boil except - "Kashmiri Tea"
bangla tiger
February 11, 2013 9:37 pm
well said my dear indian friend
ravi
February 11, 2013 9:37 pm
As far as Afzal Guru is concerned, he will be happily living with other so called jihadis. Hope Kashmir improves and moreover, realises that in modern world, jihad is not important.
Khan
February 11, 2013 9:26 pm
Afzal Guru and Bhagat Singh did the same and met the same fate. Afzal Guru is a martyr and nation hero of Kashmir people. He fought and gave his life for the freedom of Kashmiri people. He will be remembered as a pious man who wanted to free Kashmir people from the Indian bondage
Observer
February 11, 2013 9:32 pm
He & his supporters should be thankful to India for letting him live for nearly a decade even after its supreme court rendered capital punishment for his role in the attack of Indian Parliament with the intention of killing the Parlamentarians and the Prime Minister. If ithe same crime was committed in Pakistan he would have been shot dead immediately.
Jugan Naath
February 11, 2013 5:23 pm
S.P. Bansal, do you think RAW and Indian Parliament is not already trying it. I work with lots of Indians, they are very polite in front of you, totally different behind you.
Nasfan
February 11, 2013 9:54 pm
Agree 100%with you. And I think they will not mind either as they think that everyone has right to choose (just kidding).
S.P.Bansal
February 11, 2013 12:01 pm
This is nothing but Pakistan's interferance. I think Pakistan need TIT FOR TAT. We should break pakistan further in minimum 1more to start with Balochistan and then go ahead with other areas . When for USD They allow USA to kill their own citizens in thousands, I am sure the Balochistan shall willingly part away with them for sure.
Kashmiri Lion
February 11, 2013 8:30 pm
Dear kasmiri bothers and sisters ....a country who charges USD for each drone attack to kill its innocent citizens cant help Kashmir
sanjay
February 11, 2013 8:28 pm
Anybody Who is commenting against the hanging of Afzal Guru, that is india's internal matter. At least India punished him by following Indian Law. But look at Karachi, you are killing your own brothers for fun. Today 15 more innocent killed. By the way Afzal confessed his crime in a TV interview.
mehmood h. bhanji
February 11, 2013 8:28 pm
Have you been drinking cool aid again. I strongly condem any attack on innocent people. I belive that people of KASHMIR have the right to decide their own future. I am sure you are aware of the UN Resolution. By the way PAKISTAN IS HERE TO STAY. PAKISTAN ZINDABAD
Asif Kahsmiri
February 11, 2013 1:38 pm
welldone for letting everyone know what India is doing in Pakistan.
Rashid Sultan
February 11, 2013 4:44 pm
It is not a religious issue. It is / was a legal issue. One cannot say if the trial was fair or not fair unless one was part of the trial process but one thing is sure - Capital punishment must be banned even if the judgement was safe.
Rashid Sultan
February 11, 2013 4:39 pm
Capital punsihment should be banned, period.
Mustafa
February 11, 2013 8:05 pm
Thanks to 'two nation theory '. Keep dreaming bansi and co
rana1
February 11, 2013 2:11 pm
Bansal.... kindly rephrase your sentences in order.Your hindi/enghlish is not getting through!All those thumbs up for your article, seems they too need polishing in english writing because like you too as an indian only they understood what you meant,so in future why not place your comments in a hindi newspaper.
Amit Parmar
February 11, 2013 7:04 pm
He was terrorist. He got what he deserved.
farhaz
February 12, 2013 2:32 pm
Comparison between Afzal Guru and Bhagat singh...?!!! Bhagat singh never intended to kill anyone. Even when he dropped bomb in the assembly, he dropped it at such a place where there was no one around so that it does not hurt anybody. Anyone who kills innocents can never be pious...rather such a person has never understood Islam...and has to be punished for his heinous act.
Ali
February 11, 2013 4:25 pm
It is clear that you have bad design and have no remorse for being unfair so you will fail in your design.
Arvind
February 11, 2013 3:34 pm
I dont think Afzal.guru was real culprit , real culprits are still alive and free,,we know them very well so no need to mention it
Shimud
February 11, 2013 3:10 pm
And the Pakistanis still believe in the so called Aman ki Asha....even after the over whelming support for the comments above from Mr. Bansal.
Silajit
February 11, 2013 2:42 pm
Afzal Guru was a criminal whose involvement in a crime led to the death of seven salaried employees. On a lighter note as an Indian, it bothers me that he failed in ridding the country of corrupt politicians. But on a serious note, the Parliament attack almost led to war between India and Pakistan. Why should his hanging be an issue?
himesh
February 11, 2013 2:24 pm
He is a terrorist and Indian democratic system give him 12 year to proof he is innocent. Those who are now shouting where are those when his trial was on.What they did for him . They cannot as he caught red handed. What is the reaction of those organizations towards the people who are killed by those terrorist helped by GURU ??? Where is human right that time ?? Terrorist is a terrorist he has no religion no country. Should be hanged. Civilized people don't spoke for a terrorist.
anony
February 13, 2013 1:54 am
Too obsessed with Pakistan, aren't we?
Dave
February 13, 2013 2:19 am
Jugan, it also depends on what kind of a person you yourself are. Food for thoughts....
nadeem(mumbai)
February 13, 2013 6:04 am
So illiterate you are!! How much did you scored in History in your board exam? Or in Pakistan, the history book written that way.
akoi
February 13, 2013 7:30 am
Every terrorist in this world should be hanged publicly so that no one dares to do such ant national activities. Applaud it. Just waiting when will govt of India ambush all those irritating terrorist from Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya in the NE of India. Just tired of it man!
Rao
February 13, 2013 8:00 am
Gowhar Geelani must have written this article long time back and published it now because on the ground nothing is boiling except water in the kettles
Jamshed Khan
February 13, 2013 8:08 am
Enlighten us. Who are the real culprits?
Jeet
February 13, 2013 9:56 am
and Pakistan should worry about its own people and not about Afzal who is dead and burried.
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