The government decided to hang and bury Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru inside the Tihar Jail here on Saturday.
A similar exercise was carried out 29 years ago to execute Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) militant Maqbool Bhat.
It is learnt that the government decided to bury Afzal Guru on the jail premises itself to avoid a situation of mass outpouring on the streets if his body was handed over to his family based in Sopore, which still witnessed protests after the news spread in that region of the Valley. The government used provisions of the Tihar jail manual to carry out the last rites of Guru as per religious beliefs.
The parallel between the executions of the two militants does not stop at the common burial ground next to Jail No 3 in Tihar. The two were hanged in February. While Guru was hanged on Saturday, February 9, Bhat was sent to the gallows on February 11 in 1984. Both came from Kashmir, with Bhat’s root traced to Trigam Kupwara in north Kashmir.
On Friday, JKLF members took out a march in Srinagar demanding that the mortal remains of Bhat should buried in Tihar. This is an annual feature of the JKLF observed around the time he was hanged. Guru’s wife Tabassum wrote to Tihar Director-General Vimla Mehra requesting to allow “the members of the family to give Afzal Guru proper dignified last rites in accordance with the religious traditions.”
Bhat was hanged for ambushing security forces in the state and killing Inspector Amar Chand on September 14, 1966. Bhat, along with his accomplice Kala Khan, were arrested and sentenced to death. He and two other inmates managed to sneak out by digging out a tunnel from the Srinagar Jail in 1968 and crossed the border to reach Pakistan.
Three years later, he masterminded the hijacking of an airline to Lahore and was put behind bars. After he was released by Islamabad authorities, the JKLF leader returned to Kashmir in 1974. Later he was caught once again.
He was reported to have filed a mercy petition before President Gyani Zail Singh in his earlier case on the grounds of an unfair trial—a charge even Afzal Guru’s family and some of lawyers are making now. But, the kidnapping and murder of an Indian diplomat in Birmingham in the UK in February 1984 by JKLF militants demanding Bhat’s release turned to be counter-productive.