Some among Kashmir’s seperatist leaders felt that Afzal Guru, convicted by the Supreme Court to death for his part in the Indian Parliament attack of 2001, should hang, but did not dare say so openly.
In a private conversation after the Supreme Court confirmed Afzal’s death sentence in 2006, Goeffrey Pyatt, the in-charge at the US embassy, wrote to Washington that despite Congress’ dilemmas on the issue, even some Kashmiris supported death to Afzal.
Pyatt also quoted the same Hurriyat leader, whose name has been withheld to protect him from militants, as saying that moderates were losing support among Kashmiri youth because of “extremist madrassas springing up across Srinagar with Pakistani Jamaat-i-Islami party funding.”
“‘If someone is a terrorist, they should meet a violent end.’” Pyatt quoted the Hurriyat leader as saying.
“He said politically, however, moderate members of the Hurriyat are unable to express this view publicly, given the mood in the valley and the threat from terrorists. For this reason, the moderate Hurriyat as a body has remained relatively quiet about the issue,” Pyatt added.
“While some may speak on Afzal’s behalf individually, this was only out of a sense of obligation rather than strong conviction,” the separatist leader added, noting with frustration the spread of extremist ideology through funding by Jamaat-i-Islami, a conservative political party in Pakistan.
About two years later, Kashmir again burst into fresh round of protests that lasted till around mid 2010.
Yasin Malik, a ‘reformed militant’ and an intellectual advocate of Kashmiri seperation from India, however, was more supportive of Afzal, himself a ‘reformed’ terrorist.
“Afzal’s only crime was buying a car. How does this warrant a death sentence,” Malik asked Pyatt, pointing out that Afzal did not directly participate in the shooting, but only helped the group carry it out.