Afzal Guru Hanged: How dark days of Kashmir are back again

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Is asking for a normal life in Kashmir valley next to committing sin? Few weeks back a film crew from Bollywood was savouring the beauty of the valley, as stars of the film posed for shutterbugs. Life looked beautiful in the valley. Or, it is a myth and lie which valley people have been suffering since 1990s? Once again in the wake of execution of Afzal Guru, life has come to a standstill in Kashmir.

Valley is once again simmering with tension. Indefinite curfew, protests, gag on freedom of speech--does Kashmir part of democratic set of up India? Difficult to say, as Kashmir since ages has been cleverly used by Indian and Pakistani establishments to score political points.

Once again Indian establishment proved the theory right by hanging Afzal Guru. Hanging of Guru, as the dead terrorist once has said in one of his interviews, is a political issue. He was right in gauging the nature of his case. The drama and secrecy surrounding Guru's hanging is nothing less than scoring of few political points by Congress-led UPA government.

Curfew in Kashmir

Those who are opposing his execution are asking the government, why now? Was it to change the perception surrounding Congress that it is "soft on terror", as accused by its prominent political opponent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)? Otherwise why there is a sudden shift in government's contention regarding Guru's hanging?

Government dilly-dallied the case for 12 long years. The 43-year-old terrorist convicted for the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, was supposed to be hanged on October 20, 2006, but Guru was given a stay of execution and remained on death row. His mercy petition was pending at the corridors of President's office for long.

Finally, President Pranab Mukherjee, a hard-core Congress loyalist decided to reject his plea and send him to gallows. Analysts say the timings were prefect. At a time when all political parties are preparing for elections, and Congress-led UPA government's reputation has touched a nadir, hanging one terrorists after another has become a tool in the hands of Indian establishment.

Congress thought it was a masterstroke to woo back its "Hindu" voters by executing a "Muslim terrorist". Yes, in India, a terrorist is either a Hindu or Muslim, more than a person in conflict with law. That is how our leaders define a terrorist, depending on their political convenience. So, Guru was hanged, who his supporters claim did not get a fair trial.

Plight of the Valley

After his hanging indefinite curfew has been imposed in the valley. Latest reports say, curfew continues for third consecutive day on Monday, Feb 11 in Kashmir valley. Moreover, army was deployed in Sopore, Guru's hometown. Media has been gagged and flow of information has been curtailed by the establishment. The government has also directed cable operators not to air any news channel except Doordarshan.

The Kashmir Editors' Guild condemned the government for stopping publication of daily newspapers in the Valley, following hanging of Parliament attack convict Guru. "We condemn the government's unofficial gag order on Kashmir media," a spokesman of the KEG said. He claimed police teams visited various printing presses of daily newspapers and asked the management to stop publishing. The spokesman said police seized all copies of those dailies which managed to publish their editions last night.

Woes of a grieving family

The family has accused the government of keeping them in dark about Guru's execution. They are demanding his body, which has been buried within the premises of Tihar jail, where he was hanged on Saturday. Now, family has written to the Deputy Commissioner Baramulla for Afzal Guru's body. Will their pleas be addressed?

Government maintains that Guru's family back in Kashmir were informed about his execution. However, family denied getting any prior information about the execution. "We had no idea, we were woken up by people, got to know when things were being debated and posted on facebook," said Yaseen Guru, cousin of Guru. "We have gotten no letter, no family member has been informed as opposed to what the government is claiming," he added. "His wife had appealed for mercy, she should have been informed that the plea has been rejected. We got to know about that from the national television in the morning," he added.

Now, Guru's family has demanded that the government hand over his body to them for burial. ''We want the body of my father... I want to see his face,'' Afzal Guru's 14 year old son Ghalib told. ''We want to bury him here.'' "We had called the local police station, requesting them to let us go to Guru's ancestral home Doabgah. The police declined,'' Ghulam Mohammad Buhroo, paternal grandfather of Ghalib.

Buhroo said that Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde is lying when he says that the government had informed the family. ''We met him (Guru) at Tihar Jail on Raksha Bandan. My wife and Ghalib were accompanying me. If the government would have informed us, we would have atleast gone and met him one last time,'' Buhru said. ''The government is lying. They did not tell us anything.'' Buhroo said that now that the government has hanged him (Afzal), it is our right to perform his funeral in accordance with our religion. ''How can they bury him inside Tihar jail? He has a family. He has a son, wife and brother. They must hand over the body to us as soon as possible,'' Buhroo said.

Guru's execution: Would it have negative impact on youth psyche in Jammu and Kashmir?

This is what the chief minister of J&K Omar Abdullah fears. Criticising the execution of Guru, Omar said, "Govt would have to convince the world that Afzal's execution wasn't selective".
"There is generation of young Kashmiri people who feel alienated and victimised and now it is up to the govt to answer", added Omar.

Since 90s when Kashmiri youth started their struggle for self-determination, reports say 68,000 people have died, 10,000 have disappeared, and at least 100,000 have been tortured. How long the valley will suffer? Or is it doomed to cry forever? How long Kashmiri women will continue to loose their precious sons, husbands, brothers and fathers? Can India provide an answer?

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