There is a great deal of similarity in the cases of both Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat. Intelligence Bureau officials have been warning that many groups are attempting to rake up the Afzal Guru issue and this was seen at Pathankot, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jammu and Kashmir and now New Delhi.
When Afzal Guru was hanged after being held guilty in the Parliament attack, there were fears that there would be a rising in Kashmir.
However, everything was quiet barring a few protests. Today the scenario is gradually changing and with the name of Afzal Guru cropping up time and again, Intelligence Bureau officials warn that this undercurrent may have its effects in Kashmir.
The slogan raising at the JNU has two sides to it. Condemning a hanging surely does not mandate a sedition charge, but raising anti national slogans sure does.
However, the bigger issue is that the ghost of Afzal Guru is gradually returning and it looks exactly like the Maqbool Bhat case.
Bhat, the founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, held guilty of two murders was hanged at the Tihar jail in 1984. While there was not much of trouble in the immediate aftermath of the hanging, the issue was used in 1989, the year we witnessed one of the biggest uprising in Kashmir.
Afzal Guru can still trouble India:
It was on February 9 that a strike was organised in Jammu and Kashmir by the Hurriyat Conference to mark the death anniversary of Afzal Guru. At that time it was warned by the IB that this could spread to different parts of the country.
What one got to witness in Delhi was exactly what the IB spoke about. Several protests relating to Kashmir have emerged from the JNU in the past.
Prior to this, there was an attempt made by the Jaish-e-Mohammad to raise the Afzal Guru bogey. The name of Afzal Guru resurfaced during both the attacks at Pathankot and Mazar-e-Sharif (Afghanistan) recently.
In both these attacks the fidayeens had left behind pamphlets singing praises of Afzal Guru. It had become a clear strategy to capitalise on his name and start a movement in Kashmir.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that the attempt was replicate what was done post the hanging of Bhat. The hanging of Maqbool Bhat in 1984 had become the focal point of the Kashmir movement five years later.
There are desperate attempts being made by both Pakistan based terrorist groups and also the Hurriyat Conference to stir up passions in the name of Afzal Guru.
Immediately after his hanging three years back there was no uproar in Kashmir. However, if one looks at the case of Bhat, then it is something to worry about.
This because there was a relative calm in Kashmir after his hanging in 1984. Five years later several groups used the hanging to stir up passions which led to a violent movement in Kashmir.
What is the message the Afzal Guru fans are sending out?
SAR Geelani has stated that the intention is to tell the people that both Guru and Bhat are part of the Kashmir freedom movement. It is a clear attempt to stir up passions and one needs to be careful or matters could well go out of control, says an officer with the Intelligence Bureau. We have alerted the police to be on high alert, the officer also added.
Both the recent attacks at Pathankot and Mazar-e-Sharif too attempted to send out one common message and that was to Kashmir. The Jaish-e-Mohammad made it extremely clear that they want to stoke emotions and make Kashmir a rallying point once again.
The terrorists who stole the vehicle of the Superintendent of Police (Gurdaspur) had left a note. The note read Long live Jaish-e-Muhammad.
From Tangdhar to Sambha Kathua you will find loyalists of Afzal Guru who will readily lay down their lives for him.
A similar message was found at Mazar-e-Sharif as well. Here the message read, "Afzal Guru- a martyr for whom there will be a 1,000 fidayeens."
Both these messages make it amply clear that the Jaish-e-Mohammad is using the Afzal Guru slogan to churn sentiments in Kashmir. Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the JeM has written a lot about Afzal Guru in some magazines published by his outfit.
He had repeatedly tried to say that India had been running a smear campaign against Afzal Guru so that there is no reaction in Kashmir.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that the message that the Jaish-e-Mohammad is trying to convene is extremely clear. They are hoping to replicate the events that occurred following the execution of Bhat.
They believe that they can still evoke sentiments in Kashmir quoting Afzal Guru. While it is a worrying trend, Indian officials, however, feel that the times have changed and the Jaish-e-Mohammad may not be successful this time around.