Worried over the groundswell of support for Afzal and that he might emerge as a potent separatist symbol, even the Congress in Kashmir has now joined major mainstream politicians in appealing to President A PJ Abdul Kalam to pardon Afzal if a mercy petition is filed.
Spearheaded reportedly by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, leaders such as National Conference president Omar Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, CPI(M) general secretary Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami and Congress vice-president Abdul Gani Vakil have all warned that his hanging could set in fresh alienation in Kashmir.
Azad is reliably learnt to have asked the Prime Minister to intervene. Though unwilling to come on quote, the Chief Minister has let it be known that he is working for grant of clemency. Sources said he is worried over the developing public sentiment in the Valley in favour of Afzal and doesn’t want him to become a martyr to the separatist cause.
Vakil was more forthright. “I think the Central Government has always been very generous when it comes to making concessions to Kashmir. So it would be good if they respect the public sentiment in Kashmir and grant pardon to Afzal,” he told The Indian Express. Abdullah has similarly pleaded for a review of the hanging order. “Our