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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 911

Afzal Guru family allowed to visit his grave at Tihar jail

From R. Vasudevan—Reporting from New Delhi
New Delhi, 13 February (Asiantribune.com):

A day after Union home Minister hinted at the possibility of allowing Afzal Guru's family members to visit his grave for prayer inside the Tihar Central Jail Complex in New Delhi, Home Secretary R.. Singh on Tuesday confirmed the move and said that the belongings of the deceased would be handed over to them.

Though the home secretary refrained from giving any time-frame for such visit, officials in his ministry said it would happen soon and the government would facilitate the visit of the family members of Guru to Tihar Jail complex.

They also said that this would, however, be a one-off visit for Guru's wife Tabassum, son Galib and a couple of other close family members, keeping in mind their desire to offer "fathiah namaz" (prayer at the grave).

The government's move seems to have been prompted by adverse comment about Guru's wife and son not being able to meet him and the delay in the official dispatch stating the rejection of his mercy petition reaching the family.

Shinde on Monday said the visit of Guru's family members to his grave "can be considered". Officials had later said the matter was discussed in detail with Tihar Jail authorities including director general (prison) Vimla Mehra.

Shinde's remarks on Monday on the issue came a day after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah expressed anguish over the Centre's decision not to allow Guru's family members to meet him ahead of his hanging.

Omar Abdullah told a TV news channel, "As a human being, I find it very difficult to reconcile myself to the fact that we executed a person who wasn't given the opportunity to see his family for the last time... it would have cost me nothing to have sent a plane here and have the family picked up and flown to Delhi. They would have had a last hour to spend with him before he was executed."

Meanwhile, besides jail authorities in the Capital, top J&K police and civil authorities have also been sounded out about the move which the government will try and keep a low key affair.

Guru's family members had had requested that they be allowed to perform his last rites in accordance with religious traditions. The letter, written by Guru's lawyer ND Pancholi to Mehra on behalf of Tabassum, said the family learnt about the execution from national TV.

"We are writing to you to please permit the family members to give Afzal Guru proper dignified last rites in accordance with religious traditions... If you could inform us when the family members can perform the 'Namaaz-e-Janaza', we would appreciate it," the letter said.

Tabassum also said in the letter, "We do not wish to make it a political issue in an atmosphere which is already volatile but the family members, as citizens of India, have a right, which must be respected."

- Asian Tribune -

Sushil Kumar Shinde
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