SRI NAGAR: Ahead of the fourth phase of the Assembly elections slated for Sunday, the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru is back in the spotlight in Jammu and Kashmir, with the PDP accusing the Congress of “scapegoating” him to stop the BJP’s rise.
While addressing an election rally in the Dooru constituency in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Wednesday, PDP chief ministerial candidate Mufti Mohammad Sayeed raked up the Afzal Guru issue.
“The Congress played a counter-communal card in its failed bid to stop the rise of the BJP at the national level and used Afzal Guru as a scapegoat,” he said.
The PDP patron said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who owed his survival in 2010 and 2011 to the Congress, “readily agreed to the hanging of Afzal in a manner that didn’t do any good to the country’s image as a secular democracy where rule of law is supreme”.
“The Congress and the National Conference, just for achieving partisan political gains, sacrificed the image of the country and subverted its system by not allowing Guru’s family to have a last-minute meeting with him,” he said.
Afzal was secretly hanged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail last February. His family members were not informed about the hanging. Nor was his body handed over to them. The body was buried in the jail premises instead.
Reacting to Mufti’s allegations, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “The Congress had no role in executing Afzal. It was the judiciary which sent him to the gallows.”
The ruling National Conference has also weighed in on the issue. “The PDP shouldn’t forget that Afzal Guru was indicted, convicted and sentenced during the tenure of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as Chief Minister. At that time, the PDP was in a coalition with the Congress in the state and the Congress was in power at the Centre,” party spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said.
“Why didn’t the PDP oppose the death sentence to Afzal Guru while the PDP was in power? These are questions that remain not only unanswered by the PDP but are also unanswerable,” he further said.