NC in dilemma over Afzal Guru clemency resolution

September 19th, 2011 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Sep 19 (IANS) The ruling National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir is in a dilemma over which way to vote when the Afzal Guru clemency resolution comes up in the state assembly Sep 28.

“Once again, in the political history of the NC, the party has to walk a very tight rope,” said Bashir Manzar, editor of a local daily newspaper, Monday.

“Balancing its regional character with the larger responsibility as an ally of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), more essentially of the Congress, is a serious challenge faced by the party,” he said.

“Seeking clemency for Afzal Guru is perhaps more sensitive an issue than passing the autonomy resolution,” said retired senior veterinarian Bashir Ahmad War.

A resolution seeking clemency for Afzal Guru, sentenced to death for his role the December 2001 attack on Parliament, has been submitted by Engineer Rashid, an independent MLA in the 87-member state legislative assembly.

The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has already said its 21 MLAs would vote in favour of the resolution.

The NC said its legislature party, headed by patron and union minister for renewable energy Farooq Abdullah, would decide what course the party should take when the resolution comes up for vote.

“The resolution needs just a simple majority to be passed; its legal impact on clemency for Afzal Guru is not the matter of debate here,” local lawyer Suhail Ahmad said.

“It is the emotional impact of the resolution that matters for the political parties,” he added. “A vast majority of Kashmiris feel that Afzal Guru did not get a fair trial and, therefore, he has a right to clemency.”

It is this emotional fallout which worries the NC.

“If the party votes for clemency, that would weigh heavily on its ruling allies in the Congress at the national level and also in the Jammu region,” said a senior NC leader.

“If the NC stays away from vote, that would provide a lethal handle to our political adversaries. It is like Shakespeare’s Hamlet — to be or not to be!”

State chief minister Omar Abdullah had tweeted last month stating that if the J&K; assembly had passed a resolution seeking clemency, similar to the one passed by the Tamil Nadu assembly seeking clemency for Rajiv Gandhi killers, the response would not have been muted.

Independent MLA Engineer Rashid, however, confirmed to IANS that Omar’s tweet had nothing to do with his decision to file the resolution.

“Omar Abdullah posted the tweet Aug 30 or 31 but I submitted my resolution to the assembly secretariat Aug 29,” he said. “So there is no question of me having taken inspiration from the tweet.”

The tabling of the resolution has once again posed a serious challenge to the NC.

“A tightrope, but nobody walks it without injuring himself,” local journalist Irfan Manzoor remarked.

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