Facing Heat Haksar, Pancholi Quit As Guru Family Lawyers

NEW DELHI: Citing suspicious attitude of some political groups in Kashmir and hostility shown by Indian authorities, advocates ND Pancholi and Nandita Haksar on Saturday announced withdrawing as counsels of the family of Afzal Guru, executed on February 9.

They announced the decision a day after approaching the Tihar authorities seeking handing over of Afzal Guru's body to his family.

"We feel sad that all our efforts to build bridges between Indian people and Kashmiri people are constantly undermined by Indian authorities who condemn our efforts as anti-national and in Kashmir some political groups feel these offers of solidarity and friendship with suspicion," the two lawyers said in a two-page statement.

"Now there have arisen unseemly controversies and we do not wish to be part to these discussions. We also do not want to distract from the main issue on which we make our stand absolutely clear," lawyers said.

Haksar and Panchouli said after hanging of Guru, his family members telephoned them on Saturday seeking help for bringing Afzal’s body to Kashmir.

The two lawyers wrote to Tihar Director General on behalf of Guru's family on Tuesday in which they demanded handing over his body to them, besides seeking his belongings. 

In the letter to the DG Prisons, Tihar Central Jail, Afzal Guru’s lawyers conveyed his family’s insistence on taking the body to Kashmir.

The letter from N.D. Pancholi and Nandita Haksar said: “They [the family] would like that you keep Afzal’s belongings in a safe place after making an inventory which should be given to Afzal’s lawyers. We [the lawyers] would like you to give us a list of his belongings... They would like to offer prayers at his grave... They have requested that you initiate the procedures… for taking his body to Kashmir.”

Haksar and Pancholi said the family also asked them to make arrangements for their stay in Delhi and provide security.

They revealed that in 2006 when first death warant was issued to Afzal they with great difficulty managed to find safe accommodation for Afzal's family and had to face even "more volatile situation" this time when they tried to find a safe accommodation for Afzal's family members who wanted to come to take back his belongings.

“This time the situation is even more volatile, so we approached the Lok Sabha MP of ‘relevant constituency’ and through him contacted Kashmir House and the resident commissioner agreed to allot rooms for the family," they said.

They further said they maintain Afzal Guru did not get a fair trial and was victim of prejudice and injustice built into the criminal judicial process and expressed their strong disagreement with the reasoning in Supreme Court's judgement saying that Afzal Guru had to be hanged to "satisfy the collective conscience of Indians."

"We believe that the secret execution of Afzal without giving him the opportunity to meet with his family speaks volumes of the lack of humanity of the authorities and that Afzal's family has the right to go to his grave if they wish to get his belongings and to have his body," the lawyers' said. With inputs from agencies

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