New Delhi: At 8 am on Saturday, Afzal Guru, the main accused in the Parliament attack case of December 13, 2001 was hanged and buried after two hours in Delhi's Tihar jail, less than three months after the hanging of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistan-based terrorist who was part of the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Watch: Afzal Guru hanged l BJP welcomes Guru's execution l Afzal Guru's final moments l Omar appeals for calm l Curfew imposed in Kashmir l Prez rejects Guru's mercy plea
"He (Guru) was buried near jail number three," a top Tihar Jail official said.
It was less than a week ago, on February 3, that President Pranab Mukherjee cleared Guru's file, thus setting the ball rolling for Guru's execution. Pronounced guilty and convicted to death by the Supreme Court in 2003, Guru's hanging had been kept pending for several years. In fact, the recent times have seen the principle Opposition party, the BJP, racheting up the political pressure on the UPA government to hang Guru.
"Better late than never," Modi posted on microblogging site Twitter after the Centre announced that Guru was hanged. Shiv Sena welcomed the courageous move and lauded President Pranab Mukherjee for taking a prompt action.
Afzal Guru's final moments before being executed:
• Family was informed before hanging.
• Guru, when he learnt, about his hanging last evening was said to be shocked and drank only few glasses of water the whole night.
• He requested for a holy book which he recited.
• He had a last wish which couldn’t be disclosed
• Court had issued death warrant yesterday and fixed date and time of death
• Guru was buried inside jail premises near barrack 3 where hangman was called. Hangman’s details not disclosed.
• A Muslim cleric was present for last rituals.
• A doctor carried out a health check up of Guru before he was taken to gallows near his cell.
• A magistrate, doctor and several jail officials were present before the lever was pulled
Asked whether he was remorseless in his final moments, Director General of Prisons Vimla Mehra said, "He was happy and healthy. That answers your question."
Govt acts swiftly after Prez rejects Afzal's mercy plea
The decision to hang Guru came soon after the President cleared the file. The Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by the Prime Minister took the decision last week to go ahead with the hanging. By Friday, the centre had alerted the Jammu and Kashmir government as part of precautionary measures. The state government immediately imposed curfew in large parts of the state to ensure there were no law and order issues.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said mercy petition of Guru was first recommended for rejection by the Home Ministry in 2011 and after Pranab Mukherjee took over as President last year, he had returned all pending mercy petitions for reconsideration sent by him (Shinde) after he took charge of the Home Ministry in August 2012.
"The new President sent back all mercy petitions for reconsideration... I examined the file carefully and recommended to the President on January 21 for rejection of Afzal Guru's petition," he said.
Guru's arrest came soon after the attack and he was charged under the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) that was passed by the AB Vajpayee-led NDA government and was later done away with by the Congree-led UPA. He was also charged with waging war against the state among other charges related to terrorism.
Union home secretary RK Singh told the media in a brief statement that by hanging Guru they had followed the rule of law. "The President cleared the file on February 3 and the decision was taken to go ahead soon after."
Political watchers say that this could be a move by the UPA government to shore up its falling image as a preparation for a possible general elections in 2013. Guru's hanging was also controversial because the evidence that was used was questioned by several quarters. Some even alleged that in the absence of the real conspirators, the investigating agencies had been forced to make a scapegoat out of Guru. However the courts rejected these allegations and pronounced him guilty.
The family of Guru residing in Sopore in north Kashmir was informed about the decision of the Government that his mercy petition has been rejected.
However, Guru's lawyers Nandita Haksar and N Pancholi said his family was not informed about the government decision to hang him.
Curfew imposed in Kashmir valley
Meanwhile, curfew was imposed in the Kashmir valley, to prevent trouble in Guru's native Baramulla.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah arrived in Srinagar to personally monitor the situation.
"Security stepped up across J&K. Forces asked to maintain maximum restraint. I appeal everyone to maintain peace in the state," said Omar.
Belonging to the Baramulla district in Jammu and Kashmir, Guru, who had completed the first year MBBS was preparing for IAS exams when he was arrested for being providing logistic support to the 'fidayeens' in New Delhi for carrying out terror attacks on government symbols like Parliament and embassies.
However, unhappy with the situation there, he moved back to Kashmir and surrendered before the Border Security Force.
The Supreme Court of India in 2003 awarded te death sentence to Guru, which was to to be carried out on October 20, 2006. However, the execution was stayed even as Afzal remained on death row.