Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has made a strong push for the return of the body of Afzal Guru to his family in the Valley by meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with this request.
Omar made public on Tuesday his meeting the Prime Minister a few days ago and his writing a letter to him earlier on February 19, hours after opposition PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed released a letter he wrote to Manmohan Singh demanding the body of the Parliament attack convict be returned to his family for proper burial.
As the Afzal body row brought the arch rivals together, the National Conference leader said he did not make his meeting the Prime Minister and his letter public since he wanted to avoid "playing politics" on the issue.
Afzal was hanged and buried in Tihar jail premises in Delhi on February 9 and there have been demands from his family that his body be returned to them.
"I had written to the PM on the 19th of this month asking for the return of the bodies of both Afzal Guru & Maqbool Bhatt to their families," Omar tweeted on the microblogging site Twitter.
Omar said he followed this up with a visit to the Prime Minister to make the request in person a few days ago. "My Govt will continue to raise this issue with Delhi," he said.
"I had hoped to avoid playing politics with the body of Afzal Guru but that seems to be impossible to avoid with the Mufti Sayeed letter now.
I guess I should have played politics by making the letter public immediately but am glad the PDP has joined in support now," Omar said in a series of tweets.
Maqbool Bhat, the founder of JKLF, was buried in Tihar jail after he was executed on February 11, 1984. He was convicted of killing a police officer.
Sayeed said the return of Afzal`s body will help "rebuild trust" between Kashmir and rest of the country.
A former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, he also termed the hanging of Afzal as a "negative reference point in Kashmi’s painful history".
"It (handing of the body) will also reduce the pain of his family and perhaps open the way for some rebuilding of bridges at the psychological level between Kashmir and rest of the country," he added.
"I have already said that the return of Afzal Guru`s remains to his family is the minimum that government of India could do to apply some balm to a deep wound," the letter read.
Responding to the demand of Afzal`s family for return of the 43-year-old convict`s body, a day after his hanging, Omar had said he will discuss with the Centre the implications of such a move.
Omar, who had slammed the execution, also said it was a "tragedy" that Afzal was not allowed to meet his family before he was hanged and not allowed a "final farewell".
Asked about the official position of the ruling National Conference on the hanging, Omar said," Obviously we would have it rather had not happened."
On Afzal`s family not allowed to meet him, Omar said, "I cannot reconcile myself to the fact that his (Afzal) family was not allowed to see him before he was killed or executed. That to my mind, on a human level, is the biggest tragedy of this execution."