Mikes fly in J&K House over Afzal

 Pandemonium broke out in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly which was adjourned thrice on Tuesday following Opposition protests over Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’ statement that the body of Afzal Guru will not be returned to his family.

At one stage, PDP members jumped onto the reporters’ tables on the floor of the House forcing the staff to leave their chairs while Independent MLA Abdul Rashid threw mikes and tried to throw chairs and tables but was prevented by the marshalls who evicted him out.

As the PDP and Independent MLAs pressed for the return of the body of Afzal to his family, there was a demand that the Assembly pass a resolution for return of the body of  Parliament attack convict. Afzal was buried in Tihar jail in Delhi after he was hanged on February 9.

Even as Shinde’s statement triggered unruly scenes, sloganeering and high-pitched verbal duel by the entire Opposition, members of BJP strongly objected to Law Minister Mir Saifullah suffixing Afzal Guru with title of ‘Sahib’,

Raising slogans ‘Bharat mata ki jai’, BJP members also stood atop tables amid shouting of slogans by members of treasury benches.

Shinde on Monday ruled out handing over Afzal’s body to his family in Kashmir, saying “the body has been buried according to the jail manual and there was no way it could be handed over.”

Making a statement in the House in a bid to calm the tempers down, the Law Minister said “the issue is connected with the sentiments of the people and with this House— this House is representing the sentiments of the people”.

He further said “Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s stand has been that mortal remains of the Afzal Guru ‘Sahib’ should be returned back—it is also the stand of National Conference (NC)...”

A remark by an opposition member on how the Assembly felt about the body of Afzal Guru not being returned to his family was expunged by the Speaker.

As the House assembled this morning, PDP members stood up from the Opposition benches and raised slogans against the Union Home Minister, condemning his statement.

PDP member Syed Bashir and Javed Mustafa Mir said Shinde had hurt the sentiments of the House. Some members raised slogans like ‘Guru ki body ko wapas lao wapas lao— resolution lao resolution lao.’

With the opposition members unrelenting, the House was adjourned on three occasions by Speaker Mubarak Gul.

The Jammu and Kashmir Government on Monday informed the Legislative Assembly it had already taken up the issue of returning Guru’s body with the Centre.

Law minister Mir Saifullah had said the state government had already requested the Centre for the return of the body of Afzal to his family.

The Minister had said the seriousness of the state government could be gauged from the letter of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to the Centre demanding the return of the body. He said the government “shares the concern and feelings of the members on this issue.”

There has been persistent demand from Afzal’s family for handing over his body.
“Under the jail rules, the body can’t be given to Guru’s family,” Shinde said at a press conference in New Delhi on Monday.

 However, he said Afzal’s family members are free to visit Tihar Jail and offer prayers at his grave.

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