Will come to Tihar only to take Afzal's body: family

The family of Afzal Guru, who was hanged last week for his role in 2001 Parliament attack, welcomed the Centre's decision to hand over his belongings, but said they would come to Tihar only if the government agrees to hand over his body.

"They are mixing the two things, we don't understand what they mean. We can pray even from here. We want the body to be handed back, nothing less than that," Mohammad Yasin, a cousin of Afzal from Sopore told PTI after Home Secretary R K Singh said in Delhi that the family will be allowed to visit Afzal's grave inside Tihar jail here.

Singh also said all belongings left behind in Tihar jail by Afzal will be handed over to his family. But Yasin said, "We welcome handing over the belongings but it should not be mixed with the issue of handing over the body. They are different.... If they are so concerned, they should hand over the body."

Yasin said they would go to Tihar only if the body is returned. "We will go to Delhi on our own, if it comes to that. We do not want any largesse from the Government. The only thing we want from them is to return Afzal's body," he said.

On Afzal's belongings, he said "they are the real treasure left now." The belongings, according to Yasin, include his writing material, religious and other books and a radio set.

"Either they tell us to come there or we can come on our own to collect the body and the belongings," said Yasin, adding the family wants to give him a "proper burial".

Yasin said the family has written a letter in this respect to Tihar jail authorities as well as Deputy Commissioner Baramulla.

Fourty-three year old Afzal was hanged and buried in Tihar jail in Delhi on February 9.
Asked about Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's statement that government can consider allowing the family to offer 'fatiha' (prayer) on Afzal's grave, Yasin said it was of no use.

"Where will we offer faitha? We want to bury him here (in Sopore)," he said.

He termed as "cruel joke" the letter received yesterday from Tihar Jail authorities informing the family about Afzal's hanging.

"The arrival of the letter yesterday was like rubbing salt into open wounds of the family...the wounds which may never heal," Yasin said. He alleged that the leaders of the country were playing politics over the death of Afzal.

"Afzal was hanged -- rightly or wrongly, we don't want to go into that -- but politicians should stop playing politics," he said.

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