In refuting this claim, Dr. Az-Zalmi, in his book التبيان لرفع غموض النسخ في القرآن, pages 301-303, draws attention to the closing of verse 9:113, claimed to be the abrogating verse, which says "after it has become clear to them that they (the relatives) are the companions of Hell." Az-Zalmi says that is impossible for anyone to know until the relative dies without accepting Islam.
Same observation was made by the people of Hadeeth, according to Abu-Abdillah Shu`la, who rejects this claim as a case of specification, in his book صفوة الراسخ في علم المنسوخ والناسخ, page 152. He quotes them giving another evidence backing their ruling and that is that the Prophet (PBUH) has supplicated, "O God, forgive my people for they do not know," reported by Al-Bukhaari.
Despite that, Shu`la says, most scholars are of the opinion that asking forgiveness for polytheists is never permitted.