It’s unfortunate that the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, should have been so reckless in his choice of words while responding to the execution of Parliament House terror attack convict Afzal Guru while talking to the media. His comment that Afzal Guru’s execution would reinforce a sense of alienation and injustice among a generation of youth in the Kashmir Valley is uncalled for. It presumes that Kashmiri youth, more specifically young Muslims of Kashmir, deeply sympathise with a terrorist and his violent means. That is far from the truth. The Abdullah clan, as also other political families who together control the levers of power in Jammu & Kashmir depending on who is heading the Government of the day, should realise that the aspirations of the youth of Kashmir are no different from those of the youth in other parts of India. They want jobs, they want a better quality of life, they want good governance, they want to see an end to the sordid unending saga of corruption which has been the bane of Jammu & Kashmir since 1947.
That apart, for an elected Chief Minister who has sworn to uphold the Constitution of India to pander to separatists is unacceptable. It could be argued that he said what he did to calm tempers and hold the peace (which has remarkably prevailed, contrary to what was predicted by those who were delaying Afzal Guru’s date with the hangman). But that would be specious. He is expected to reach out and bolster those sections of Kashmiri society which have had enough of separatism-inspired anarchy and bloodshed. He failed to do so.
It is immaterial that Afzal Guru was a Kashmiri and/or a Muslim. What is material is that he wilfully became a conspirator in plotting the terrorist attack on Parliament House on December 13, 2001. He was given a fair trial and the law of the land was upheld when the courts sentenced him to death. There couldn’t have been, indeed, shouldn’t have been, any other way. Omar Abdullah should have stressed this point. Instead, he succumbed to that disease which afflicts our ‘secular’ politicians: vote-bank politics. If he insists this is not true, and that he lent voice to what he genuinely believes, then he should immediately resign from office and relinquish his membership of the State Assembly.