Allow family to perform last rites: Afzal’s lawyers

The family members of Afzal Guru, represented by their lawyers N D Pancholi and Nandita Haksar, submitted a plea to Tihar jail authorities, to allow them to conduct his last rites, in accordance with "religious traditions".

In a letter addressed to the Director General (Prisons), the lawyers stated, "the family members were shocked to hear the news of the hanging of Afzal Guru on national television".

Haksar said Afzal's family in Sopore has also sent a similar request to the district commissioner.

Asserting that this was a denial of a "basic human right", the lawyers in their plea requested that family members be allowed to give Afzal "proper dignified last rites, in accordance with their religious traditions".

The letter reads, "If you could inform us when the family members can perform the namaaz-e-janaza, we would appreciate it."

The letter added, "We do not wish to make this a political issue in an atmosphere which is already volatile. But the family members, as citizens of India, have rights, which must be respected."

Hours later, around afternoon on Saturday, the lawyers visited Tihar jail, but they claimed they were not allowed to meet the jail authorities.

The lawyers were, however, told that their letter had been received at the office of the DG (Prisons).

"We went to meet the superintendent and deputy superintendent of Jail No. 3, but we were told that they were on leave. DG (Prisons) Vimla Mehra was also not there but she sent a representative, who received our letter. They said they would reply to our request soon," Haksar said.

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