Act now, before the situation spins out of control as has happened in the past. The decision to hang Afzal Guru has a dangerous potential to backfire. Not only resistance groups, but mainstream politicians warn you of the same consequences. India stands on the precipice where one wrong signal can push the entire region into a chaos irrevocable, cautions Hassan Zainagiree
'If my son is hanged for the sake of nation, I would be a proud mother'. — Aisha, mother of Afzal Guru.
Tired we are of the worn out cliche: Pakistan or ISI 'sponsored terrorism' in Kashmir trotted out day in and day out by Delhi. It hasn't shifted the paradigm of pro-independence movement which in pristine virginity is indigenous and commanding mass support. Even the reliable Trojan Horses of Delhi like Abdullahs, Muftis and persons like Tarigaamis and Sagars – used at different occasions to torpedo the movement and prop up Delhi's interests – have no caveats to offer against this ground reality. Their passive " separatist" stance and pleas for including militants in the dialogue process reflect their desperation to hold on to ground that drifts from under their feet. That speaks the "compulsion" why on occasions of public gatherings they seem shorn of main-streamist "wool" and display blue-prints of ' autonomy' and 'self rule'.
Alienation that is total, all wide and seemingly unbridgeable gets its cornucopia, ironically, more from India herself. As if to bolster the movement, which at movements showed signs of " wear and tear" and lost in the maze of leadership crisis, Delhi retrieved the loss through its " surgical treatment". Bloodstained history of 17 years does provide the testimony that a custodial death or a rape generated gills to the movement to breathe more air to whip up anti-India feelings as we have recently witnessed in massive public demonstration in Bandipora, Kupwara, Srinagar and Islamabad. Barrel of repression, instead of quelling the movement, to a large extent helped in keeping its tempo and sustenance. Left our inept leadership and our collective follies the movement would have died of its own. But it is bulldozer of victimization, more than the froth-spitting leaderships-narcissistic behavior and their useless press statements that keeps the resistance pot simmering with hate and anger.
Till Indian forces bask in the sunshine and moonshine of draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Power Act and Disturbed Areas Act (and thus enjoy impunity from claws of prosecution), pro-Indian political forces have to lose ground to "separatist' and speak in smattered tune with soiled conscience are "at best" remain on the peripheries. It is from here "hawks" roar, "moderates" bleat. Jehad Council calls shots. Maqbool Bhat, in white shroud, proves more "dangerous" than when he was alive.
If Muhammad Afzal Guru is hanged on 20th October at Tihar Jail for his alleged involvement in Parliament attack, surely another Maqbool Bhat will leave marks of eternal immorality in the mind-pages of Kashmiri people. "Beatified" in the martyr robes he will get glorified. The resistance movement in losing one Afzal would wean to its fold hundreds of Afzals. It will be another faux pass, after Maqbool's killing that Delhi would make. And further widen the chasm. Muhammad Maqbool Bhat's death at Tihar was politically motivated and vengeful. Though living on death sentence number of years he was hanged in retaliation for killing of an Indian diplomat in Britain, allegedly by JKLF (which Bhat has founded). Maqbool in Tihar jail has no, nor could he have, any role in diplomat's killing. But no sooner the news of latter's death came, frigid death sentence became alive and Maqbool was hanged. Farooq Abdullah, the Chief Minister of Kashmir, too gave a tacit support to the Prime Minister Indra Ghandi to send Kashmiri freedom fighter to gallows.
In executing Kahmiri leader India believed that people in Kashmir will receive the tough message and think hundred times before embarking on the route that leads to Tihar. But events following, his martyrdom showed how Himalayan a blunder Indians made. Maqbool's hanging laid the seeds of revolution that erupted through Kalashinkoeffs and grenades in 1989. So much people gravitated to the late leader that those who virtually disowned him at 11Febuary 1984 vied to get closer to him after death and screamed in praising him from the pulpits of mosques and at public gathering. Phoenix like Maqbool rose from the ashes in grave and convulsively shook Indians. Workers of NC who through out its history of doublespeak and deception helped Delhi in consolidating its military, diplomatic and political gains, declared their dissociation from the party through paid newspaper advertisements. To show devotional attachment to the departed leader and his mission the first grave in the Mazar-e-Shoda (martyr's grave yard) in Eidghah Srinagar is dedicated to Jasde Khaki (mortal remains) of the leader who sacrificed his life, career and family for the cause he prioritized to every thing.
A word about the fairness of the trial. Guru was tried under POTA (Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act) the same controversial 'black' law which was debated over and vehemently criticized by the legal luminaries and constitutional experts from the day BJP-led NDA government brought it into force. The renowned jurist and celebrated legal icon Soli Sorabjee raised fingers against fairness of trial. So did the noted author and activist Arundhati Roy. And Congress, because of POTA's controversial nature, all along has been expressing its opposition and criticism to the fairness of the law. How cannons of fairplay are met when a person is tried, convicted and then hanged to death under the very law present government itself is doubtful about its fairness. When a doubt creeps in the mind, the whole process of justice gets smudged. Even if hundreds of guilty escape legal action, an innocent person should not be punished. It is on this plank Congress-led UPA government can build a case and seek presidential clemency for Guru who has however 'preferred to die a dignified death'. The situation in troubled state is not what it was when Maqbool was hanged. Much water has flown down the Jehlum. Today not only 'separatist' parties are united on the issue, majority of mainstream political parties too have unanimously demanded revocation of death sentence against Guru. Gh Nabi Azad, in synch with public sentiments and also keeping in mind possible fall-out of the verdict has met PM Manmohan Singh and sought his help.
The verdict if carried would make India vulnerable to the law of unintended consequences. Confidence building would yield place to trust deficit and derailed peace process that was put back on rails through Musharraf-Manmohan Singh good efforts at Havana would be pushed into total disarray. Everything the two countries have gained so far would be hailstormed. Situation in Kashmir may likely take ugliest turn. All Delhi gained in Kashmir will melt in the crucible of hate and anger. Guru, till yesterday a non-entity or a commoner would get glorified as hero and die in glorifying the movement. Are we seeing another Maqbool in making? What Afzal's aged mother said will electrify others to carve immortal place in hall of honor and acclaim. It is time Indians sit chewing cud and have an eye on implications following the execution.
(Ideas expressed are author's own. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)