The story of Mohammad Afzal Guru is a typical case of a Kashmiri youth held in the vortex of cataclysms. He symbolises the generation which responded to the call of ‘azadi’ out of frustration in early 90s, borne from repeated sabotaging of the democratic process and was soon disappointed, but was brutalised between the interests of security agencies and ‘azadi’.
Tabassum Guru, 34, wife of deceased Afzal recalls that he was attracted to the movement led by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, much like thousands of other youth. He went to Pakistan for training, was soon disillusioned and returned to Kashmir within three months.
“My husband wanted to return to normal life and with that intention he surrendered to the Border Security Force (BSF). The BSF commandant refused to give him the surrender certificate that would have allowed him to live in peace until he had motivated two others to surrender,” she told DNA in an exclusive interview from her home in Seer Jagir village, near Sopore.
Tabassum, now living with her son Ghalib, 17, had inklings of Afzal’s fate, as relatives of fellow Kashmiri inmates had conveyed that Tihar was full of rumours that he would be hanged soon.
They had taken a hint from the fact that execution court in Jail No. 3 of Tihar was being refurbished. “But there was no communication from the government,” she said, adding that the news of her husband’s hanging was broken to her by a relative, who learned it from TV.
Explaining the tough life of a surrendered militant, Tabassum, who works as a nurse at a private hospital, said that a year before their marriage in 1997 Afzal had started a small business of medicines and surgical instruments in Kashmir. “But he was constantly harassed to work as a spy. One Major Ram Mohan Roy of 22 Rashtriya Rifles tortured Afzal, giving electric shocks to his private parts, humiliating and abusing him to the hilt. My husband just wanted to live a normal life,” she said.
He was regularly picked up, taken to camps and tortured without rhyme and reason. By now, another “monster” Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir police had taken over the anti-militancy operations. They took him to Palhalan Pattan and later Humhama near Srinagar airport. She alleged that two deputy superintendents Vinay Gupta and Davinder Singh demanded Rs1 lakh for his release. I had to sell the little gold ornaments I had make his release possible,” she said. Afzal was kept in freezing water and petrol was poured into his anus. One officer Shanti Singh hanged my husband upside down for hours, naked and in the cold.
“Why was he called to the camps repeatedly and tortured? One may think he was in militancy. But he had long surrendered and was trying to live a normal life. They wanted to make him an informer. By turning people into informers, they turn brother against brother, wife against husband and children against parents,” says Tabassum. Afzal wanted to live quietly with his family, but his dream was cut short when once again the SOG got hold of him and took him back to Kashmir.
“The SOG told my husband to bring one man, Mohammad, to Delhi from Kashmir. He met Mohammad and one other man Tariq at the SoG camp. He did not know anything about the men and he had no idea why he was being asked to do the job. He had told this to the court, but the court only chose to believe half his confession about bringing Mohammad, not the part about where he had met these attackers,” she said.
She believes the trial court proceedings were held just to nail her husband without giving him an opportunity. The superior judiciary also ignored pleas to re-examine witnesses and to call SoG people to witness box.