Feb. 9, 2013: “Allah must have thought good for us. I’m optimistic,” Tabbasum, wife of Muhammad Afzal Guru, had said recently.
Speaking to this newspaper at Gurus’ ancestral house built of exposed burnt brick and timber and situated on the banks of River Jhelum at Jagir, a Sopore suburb, 55-km northwest of Srinagar, she had said that however conflicting reports about Guru’s providence pouring out of New Delhi turn her and other family members nervous from time to time. “Those who ask for immediate hanging of Afzal make us anxious. We know why they do that but they, perhaps, don’t realize how painful it is for us particularly our 12-year-old son Ghalib,” she had said.
“When something about his father appears in a newspaper and he hears about that from his schoolmates the first thing he asks for on returning home is to show him the publication. He also wishes to keep himself abreast of news about his father through Internet," she had said
Whenever he would find something discouraging he would look sad. "That makes me cry,” Tabbasum who works as a manager at a private nursing home in neighbouring Baramulla had said. Some time ago, Ghalib after watching TV rushed to his mother to tell her Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan has “supported” his father’s situation. “He was excited saying SRK was the only person who spoke in support of his father in a discussion on TV,” his mother recalled.
“I earn sufficiently to keep ourselves going and meet the expenses on Ghalib’s education but Afzal’s absence makes life dark and incomplete. I’m still learning to live without him. In fact, it is his (Afzal’s) prayers and my love and concern for our child that encourage me to live for them. I’m sure he will come back someday,” the 32-year-old Tabbasum had said.
Afzal is also her cousin and they tied in nuptial knot on November 1, 1998. It was an arranged marriage decided by the two families. Afzal was an MBBS student but had left his studies midway to “fight for the freedom of Kashmir.” The family would make no bones about his being a Pakistan-trained militant. Rather it feels “proud” about him being a “dedicated soldier” of Kashmir’s “freedom struggle”.
Aijaz Ahmed Guru, Afzal’s brother, said “I know him so well, better than his wife. He is a brother and has been a friend too. His love for his people is infinite. He is worried about their future and would often express himself before me and other friends. He wanted to see Kashmir liberated from foreign occupation and was prepared to sacrifice his life for the cause. I know that for certain.”
Asked if he felt Afzal was implicated in the Parliament attack case and that any link between him and the terrorists was only tenuous as some people insist, Aijaz had said, “Let us think what prosecution said is true. Also, to accept he was involved in the incident or he was not is immaterial now. As far as I know he is a Pakistan-trained mujahid who had devoted his life for the cause of freedom. If that was not the case, then he would not have relinquished his studies midway and joined the militants’ ranks.”
Tabbasum had wished and prayed the President commuted Afzal’s death sentence to life imprisonment. “After every nimaz and other times also I pray to Allah that a decision that comes out is good for us. I seek His blessings for Afzal.” Yet the fact that his mercy petition remained undecided for so long was “agonising” for the entire family, Aijaz had said. Their mother, Aisha, died in last week of September, 2012. “Doctors said she died of gastric stomach cancer but we know what the real cause off her illness was,” Tabbasum had said.
The family had also said it had no love last for politicians who throng their place or/ and issue statements in support of Afzal whenever he is in news. “Apart from statements they have done nothing. No real legal aid for Afzal has come from any side. But we take everything in our stride. We don’t complain nor would you find us lamenting in public because we have no political ambition. We are simple people, work hard to earn our livelihood and thank God for the good and bad things that happen in our lives,” Aijaz had asserted.
He denied Afzal, the militant, had ever surrendered before the BSF in Kashmir in late 1990s. “He had brought two guns from Pakistan. One of them actually meant for another boy had been concealed in sand on the riverbank. Since the security forces would frequently raid our place and ask for the weapon I retrieved the gun and took it to the BSF and handed it over to them against proper receipt on behalf of Afzal.” The rumour had it ‘Afzal has along with his weapon surrendered before the BSF’.