'They claim to be a democracy... They don't even have the courage to give us his body'

FP

Tabassum was at the Sopore nursing home running around like any other day to ensure that everything was functioning smoothly at the hospital. Fourteen-year-old Ghalib was at a relative's house in Khanpora Baramulla. Ghulam Ahmad Buhroo was at the local baker's shop in Baramulla fetching bread for morning tea, while Bashir Ahmad Guroo had gone to the mosque in Doabgah to offer morning prayers.

Then the calls started pouring in. Afzal Guru's family, including wife Tabassum, son Ghalib, father-in-law Buhroo and brother Guroo, says friends and relatives told them about a rumour, that first surfaced on Facebook, that Afzal Guru had been hanged inside Delhi's Tihar Jail.

Against all hope, they prayed. It would be a wait of half an hour before news channels confirmed the hanging. They claim they were kept in the dark that Afzal was being hanged. Accusing the Centre and Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde of lying, Buhroo said: "They did not tell us anything." The J&K Police said they had not been told to inform the family.

Afzal's elder brother Ajaz Ahmad Guru told The Sunday Express: "I received a call from a close relative telling me to come home. When I reached, he told me there is a rumour that Afzal has been hanged. We couldn't believe it... The final confirmation came from news channels."

By then, the Army, police and CRPF had sealed Doabagh, the native village of Afzal, 5 km from Sopore. Nobody was allowed to enter. As people from surrounding villages tried to move in, they were fired at, with five wounded.

Afzal's father-in-law, with whom Tabassum and Ghalib stay at Baramulla, said: "We met him (Afzal) on Raksha Bandhan. It was a routine meeting. We did not have any idea that he would be hanged like this. If the government had informed us, we would have at least tried to meet him one last time. What kind of democracy is this? They did not even ask him for his last wish."

... contd.

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