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Afzal's family planning to approach Supreme Court

April 16, 2013 16:09 IST

Still grappling with the trauma of his sudden execution, the family of Afzal Guru is planning to move Supreme Court so that no other family is denied the right to meet their loved one before being hanged.

"We cannot bring back Afzal who met such a cruel fate. The authorities were insensitive and did not allow him to meet his family one last time. But perhaps we can ensure that no other family undergoes the same trauma," says Aijaz Guru, elder brother of Parliament attack convict Afzal, who was hanged on February nine.

Afzal's wife, son and others in the family got to know of his execution after the news became public. A letter from Delhi's Tihar jail authorities inform them that he was being hanged reached them some 51 hours after the hanging, generating a wave of anger in the Kashmir valley.

The family has taken note of the comments of Chief Justice of India Justice Altamas Kabir who said last week that families of death row convicts should be informed in advance about their execution. "...the principle has always been that the family members were told when things will happen," he had said.

At the height of controversy over the way Afzal was executed, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had reportedly summoned Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and expressed his displeasure over the delay in informing Afzal Guru's family about his hanging.

Afzal's family now want the apex court to take suo motu cognisance of the matter and lay down the rule that the families of those who are to be hanged are informed in advance and allowed to meet the person before execution.

If that does not happen, Guru's family will move the Supreme Court with that objective, Aijaz told PTI.

More than two months after the hanging of Afzal, the execution still haunts the family which is trying hard to pick up threads of life with Afzal's wife Tabassum resuming work at a local hospital here while Aijaz and his younger brother Hilal were still receiving condolences.

"We never imagined that such information will be shared with us through television. Did the authorities not even think once about his 12 year old son Ghalib?" he asked.

"Words can hardly provide any balm and our souls have been left completely bruised," says 45-year-old Aijaz who has been holding consultations on the future course of action on handing over the body to the family.

"We cannot ensure that those responsible for such a mix up will be punished but by moving the Supreme Court we can ensure that this will be the last case and no one faces this kind of harassment," Aijaz said as the family of the Parliament attack convict stays away from politics in the state over handing over Afzal's body.

"Aagey kisi ke saath aisa zulm na ho (No one should suffer like the way we did)," Aijaz, who runs a small time timber trade, said with tears rolling down his cheeks.

Majority of family members prefer to remain silent though the house has been become focus of attention in Dobgah, a small village, 70 KM from summer capital of Srinagar.

Aijaz said his brother's case should be an eye opener for everyone. "It should become a benchmark. These excesses should not happen at all," he said and urged the Chief Justice to take a suo motu cognisance.

"We are willing to become a party to this so that such a tragedy is never revisited," he said.

On the role of politicians and separatists, Aijaz wondered why such a hue and cry was being made now. "No one bothered to look at us in all these 12 years, be it mainstream politicians or separatists," he said.

He said his brother never got a proper judicial recourse. "No lawyer was willing to take our case. Separatist leader Shabir Shah requested a senior lawyer to take up Afzal's case. But he refused rather telling us in clear terms that he would take up the case of S A R Gilani and Shaukat Guru (other accused in the Parliament attack case) but not of Afzal," he said.

"Humara kisi ke saath lena dena nahi hai.., Koi Nahi aaya. Na main stream na separatists. Humko tanha chod diya tha. (we don't want to be associated with anyone. In the last 12 years no one cared for us)," he said while responding to a question whether he found it ironical about the support that the family was receiving today.

"We were alone at that time and we prefer to remain so even now," he said.

Aijaz, who last met Afzal in September last year, remembers him fondly. "All the 30 meetings that I had with him in jail in the last 12 years will remain fresh in my mind forever.

"He (Afzal) wanted a solution to Kashmir. For this cause he went to jail."

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