Eleven years after the terror attack on the Parliament House complex, terror mastermind Afzal Mohammed Guru was hanged on Saturday morning amid well-guarded secrecy.
The 43-year-old Kashmiri Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorist, who plotted the attack and provided hideout to terrorists involved, was sent to the gallows at 8 am and buried on the Tihar Jail premises.
Guru was calm and composed when he was woken up at 5 am. He had tea, offered prayers and went for complete medical check-up before he was taken to Jail No 3 to face the gallows.
The hanging was confirmed by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde who said Guru was hanged in the Tihar Jail at 8 am. President Pranab Mukherjee, he said, had returned Guru’s mercy petition which had been lying in his office since 2011 for perusal.
“I sent back the file to the President rejecting the clemency petition on January 21. The President signed it and returned it to the ministry on February 3 and on February 4, I signed and the procedure for his execution was followed by the department.”
The hanging date and time were decided by the judiciary in consultation with jail authorities, the minister pointed out.
Union Home Secretary R K Singh said Guru’s family was informed about the hanging through two letters sent by the jail authorities to the convict’s relatives in Sopore, Jammu and Kashmir.
Singh added that he had also told the Jammu and Kashmir DGP to cross check if they had got the letter about Guru’s hanging and his burial.
The government’s claim that Guru’s family had been informed about the hanging was denied by them, saying they came to know of the execution through the media. The family wanted his body for performing the last rites.
On why Guru’s body was not handed over to his family, the home secretary said the burial had been done as per the jail manual.
Giving the rationale behind it, government sources said the authorities decided to bury his body as per religious customs by a maulvi to avoid flaring of emotions in the valley.
The Supreme Court confirmed Afzal Guru’s death sentence on August 4, 2005, after a protracted legal battle, but the government dilly-dallied on executing him.
The hanging of Afzal Guru comes two months and 18 days after the UPA government executed the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacker Ajmal Kasab in Pune Central Jail. The Supreme Court judgment said Guru was in touch with JeM militant Mohammed before the Parliament House attack.
The court had also agreed that he was part of the conspiracy as he was instrumental in providing hideout to the terrorists at Gandhi Vihar and Indira Vihar in north Delhi, besides helping them in getting explosives and other logistics.
The trial court had handed over death sentence to Guru along with Delhi University professor S A R Geelani and Shaukat Hussain, then suspects in the dastardly act, while letting off Hussain's wife, Afsan. The Delhi High Court acquitted Geelani in 2003 while the sentence of Guru and Hussain was upheld. The apex court confirmed death to Guru while commuting the sentence of Hussain to 10 years in jail.
The attack on Parliament took place on December 13, 2001, when five heavily armed gunmen, after entering the complex in a car, had opened indiscriminate firing, killing five Delhi Police personnel, a woman CRPF official, two Parliament watch and ward staff and a gardener. All the five terrorists were killed by the security personnel before they could gain access into the main Parliament building. At the time of the attack, both Houses of Parliament were busy conducting the winter session proceedings.