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Activists from Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) shout slogans as they hold posters of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat during a curfew in Srinagar yesterday. They were demanding that Bhat’s remains be returned to them. Bhat, founder and leader of JKLF, was hanged and buried in a jail on February 11, 1984 on charges of killing an intelligence officer. The activists were also protesting against the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru.
New Delhi: The government yesterday dismissed Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s charge that the execution of Mohammed Afzal Guru was selective, and said the assassination cases of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Punjab chief minister Beant Singh were different.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said at a press conference: “These cases are still under consideration before the judiciary. Hence, they are different.”
Shinde also defended the secrecy shrouding the execution and said Guru’s family was informed two days before the hanging through speed post. The post reached the family yesterday, two days after he was hanged.
Shinde rejected allegations that the hanging was a “political decision” and said the authorities acted according to rules.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said Guru’s case fell in the rarest of rare category, and the president had taken the decision to reject his mercy plea in his own wisdom.
“There can never be one size that fits all. In case of capital punishment, there is a need to be responsible, need to realise the facts and circumstance of each case. According to courts also, this was a rarest of rare case,” Tewari said.
Abdullah, in an interview published in a newspaper yesterday, said the execution of Guru may increase the “sense of alienation” in the youth in Kashmir. He also said they may “identify with Afzal Guru”.
Shinde said he had called Abdullah on February 8 and informed him about Guru’s hanging. “Afzal Guru’s family was informed and the speed post was sent on the night of February 7. He was hanged on February 9,” Shinde told reporters here.
“We acted according to the rules,” Shinde said and added that the speed post was sent by the jail officials.
Senior postal officials in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital, said the speed post was received on Saturday evening — Guru was executed at 8am on Saturday — but delivered yesterday as Sunday was a holiday.
Abdullah had told TV channels on Sunday that the government and the judiciary will have to answer for Afzal Guru’s execution.
He had also referred to cases of convicts in the assassination of Beant Singh and Rajiv Gandhi, and said if targeting parliament was an attack on a symbol of democracy, so was the attack on a chief minister and a former prime minister.
To a question about some people wanting to pray in Tihar Jail, where Guru was buried, Shinde said it could be considered.
Asked if Guru was a surrendered militant, Shinde said he did not go into such details while looking at his file. “I was concerned with evidence and what happened in the Supreme Court and the high court. That was my job,” he said.