Srinagar, August 6:

The family of Muhammad Afzal Guru, whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on Thursday for his involvement in the December 2001 terror attack on the Indian parliament, has decided to file a mercy petition before President APJ Abdul Kalam. “I shall appeal to the president for mercy,” said Afzal’s wife Tabassum, speaking at her Jagir Ghat home near the north Kashmir apple town of Sopore, 52 km from here. “Looking at my six-year old son and his aging grandmother I feel there is impending darkness in our future,” 32-year-old Tabassum said. There is palpable fear and gloom in the village with Afzal’s family dreading every passing moment that was bringing their breadwinner closer to death. Neighbours and relatives have been calling on the family to console them while the local bar association and the separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has called for a protest shutdown on Monday against the death sentence. Hardline Hurriyat separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has also supported the protest shutdown. Afzal’s classmates describe him as a “brilliant student who did well in exams”. “He got admission to a local medical college in 1989, but after two years he left his studies midway and crossed the Line of Control (LoC) to obtain training in fire arms,” said Aijaz Ahmad Guru, Afzal’s brother. Ever since the Supreme Court confirmed Afzal’s death penalty, the JKLF has been organising protest demonstrations in the summer capital Srinagar. Police had to use a mild baton charge to disperse protestors shouting anti-India and pro-independence slogans here on Saturday. While upholding Afzal’s death sentence, the Supreme Court had let off Delhi University teacher S.A.R. Geelani.