The execution of Afzal Guru has politically pitched the
Hindu-dominated Jammu region against the Muslim-majority Kashmir
Valley in Jammu and Kashmir.
This is evident from the developments taking place in the state
assembly ever since the budget session began Feb 28.
The valley-centric Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) boycotted the
first day of the session, demanding that the Kashmiri Guru's body
be handed over to his family.
Guru, who hailed from Sopore in north Kashmir and was accused of
plotting the 2001 Indian parliament attack, was hanged in secrecy
in New Delhi's Tihar Jail Feb 9. His body was buried in the prison
The PDP moved an adjournment motion to debate the execution.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti asked: "Why was Afzal Guru, who was
in serial number 28 in the queue of those facing the death
sentence, picked up and sent to the gallows without getting an
opportunity to approach the Supreme Court?"
It is a question many in the Kashmir Valley are asking. But for
most people in Jammu, these niceties don't matter; for them, he
was a terrorist and he deserved to die.
Speaker Mubarak Gul ruled the adjournment motion could be taken
up. By then, the ruling National Conference and the CPI-M's lone
member from the valley too supported the demand.
All this was opposed by the Jammu-centric Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),
Jammu Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) and an independent
member of the Jammu Mukti Morcha (JMM).
They called Guru "a terrorist who had masterminded the attack on
The house did take up the adjournment motion, leading to verbal
clashes between the Jammu- and Kashmir-centric parties.
The Congress, which has influence in both the Jammu region and the
Kashmir Valley, was opposed to a discussion. But it could not have
its say as its ally the National Conference wanted it.
The National Conference is competing with the PDP in the valley
Suffixing of the word "sahib" with Guru by Chief Minister Omar
Abdullah and his party colleagues in the debate enraged the BJP
and the JKNPP.
Day in and day out, the assembly has been divided, more so after
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde rejected the demand to hand
over Guru's body to his family.
The PDP announced a boycott of the assembly session from March 13.
The budget session ends April 5.
Again the BJP, JKNPP and JMM members totalling 16 in the house of
87 were not enough to counter the voice of Kashmir-centric
parties. The PDP has 21 MLAs and the National Conference 28.
The Kashmir Valley also has four independent legislators.
Congress Minister Sham Lal Sharma from the Jammu region told IANS:
"The usage of 'sahib' or 'shaheed' (martyr) for Guru is not
acceptable. Any member who makes a statement against India should
On March 13, five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men were
killed in a suicide attack in Srinagar. This prompted the JKNPP to
bring in an adjournment motion.
Whent it was rejected, the JKNPP legislators walked out of the
house. They were joined by the BJP and the JMM.
Ashok Khajuria (BJP) said: "By taking up the adjournment motion on
Afzal Guru and rejecting one on the attack on the CRPF camp, the
government is boosting the morale of terrorists and demoralizing
the security forces."
On Friday again, the Jammu-focussed parties protested against the
Pakistan National Assembly resolution condemning Afzal Guru's
The Jammu region has 37 assembly constituencies. Thus, the larger
Kashmir Valley is politically more powerful and decisive in the
(Binoo Joshi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)