SRINAGAR: For the family of Mohammad Afzal Guru, the Supreme Court-sanctioned lease of life to Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, the man they “saw suffer”, comes as a pleasant yet perplexing surprise.
Bhullar was awaiting gallows in the same prison—Tihar jail of New Delhi—where Mohammad Afzal Guru who was secretly hanged and buried inside the jail on February 9 last year. And the proximity of their cells inside the jail had turned their families into friends.
Now, as Bhullar’s death penalty has been commuted, Afzal’s family is happy for the man, but at the same time perplexed with the timing of the developments.
“We often met Bhullar’s family when we visited Tihar jail. We got a chance to know them well. We saw how he and his family suffered, and we are quite happy to know that he wouldn’t be taken to gallows now,” Afzal’s younger brother Mohammad Yasin Guru told Kashmir Reader on Monday.
“But we find it quite perplexing to see how verdict after verdict and order after order against death penalties are coming only after Afzal was hanged,” he added.
Afzal’s was executed after his mercy petition to the President of India was rejected. His family including his wife and son were not informed before the hanging or given a chance to see Afzal for the last time.
Reportedly, Afzal’ name was at the bottom of the list of the petitioners seeking mercy against the death penalties awarded to them. Yet his was the only execution carried out by India in 2013, reinforcing the perception in Kashmir that the decision to hang him may have had to do with his identity.
Verdict on Bhullar has only strengthened that perception so far as Afzal’s family is concerned.
“Isn’t that already clear,” Yasin said. “His (Afzal’s) name figured at the bottom of the list, yet he was executed before the President could even decide on the mercy plea of others. It is sufficiently evident now that Afzal was hanged for being a Kashmiri.”
Afzal’s family has been demanding the return of his mortal remains, which are buried in the premises of Tihar. The struggle for it continues even as New Delhi has already announced that the body wouldn’t be returned.