Omar draws flak from Congress on calling Afzal as ‘sahib’

Omar draws flak from Congress on calling Afzal as ‘sahib’

SRINAGAR, Mar 18 (INP) : IHK chief minister Omar Abdullah, perhaps in a bid to offset widespread perception that he had approved of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging, suffixed ‘sahib’ with Afzal’s name in the assembly drawing angry reaction from National Conference’s coalition partner, the Congress, on Sunday.

\”It’s unfortunate that the Pakistani parliament and POK assembly adopted a resolution against the hanging of Afzal Guru and the head of our state government has equally glorified him,\” said J&K minister Sham Lal Sharma, a Congress MLA from Akhnoor. Minister of public health engineering, Sharma said leaderships at both the Centre and the state should be on the same page on Afzal and his hanging should not even be discussed since it was a Supreme Court decision.

Jammu & Kashmir will hold assembly elections in 2014 and Afzal’s hanging is fast becoming a rallying point and an emotive issue between the separatists and the mainstream parties. Omar was speaking on the return of mortal remains of Afzal.

Revealing competitive populism on Afzal, Omar released his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking for the bodies of Afzal and Maqbool Bhat, JKLF’s founder-member, hanged in 1984 and buried in Tihar Jail, to be returned.

Political observers were quick to point out that Omar’s letter was released after PDP leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed released his letter to PM seeking the return of Afzal’s body. Mufti described Omar’s suffixing \”sahib\” with Afzal as a political stunt.

NC sources said Omar has decided not to contest elections from Ganderbal and would prefer Amira Kadal seat. Conventional wisdom has it that Amira Kadal is safe for the party as the separatists impose complete boycott of polls in Srinagar city which helps NC win.

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