Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah was taken into confidence on Afzal Guru’s hanging 10 days ago, highly-placed government sources told HT. Abdullah, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in Delhi on January 31, was asked what fallout the hanging would have in his state.
The chief minister apprised them that there would be considerable law and order problems. “He also told the Centre that he did not want to get breaking news of Afzal’s hanging through television,’’ said a senior official, who did not want to be named.
Abdullah was told by the PM and finance minister P Chidambaram, who is also part of the cabinet committee on security, to be prepared for Afzal’s hanging. In fact, when a concerned chief minister — anxious about the consequences on the streets in the Valley — asked if the hanging could be put off, he was told that it was only a matter of time before Guru was sent to the gallows.
Though he was consulted earlier, Abdullah was informed about the date only one day prior to the hanging. So when Shinde called Abdullah at 8pm on February 8, the chief minister knew exactly what the home minister meant when he said, “Woh jo hum ne baat ki thi, woh kal subah hogi (The thing we discussed will take place tomorrow morning).” To maintain secrecy, the words ‘Afzal Guru’ were not uttered during the phone conversation.
Abdullah, who had apparently told Shinde that the hanging would have greater consequences if executed in the summer months — the Valley saw unprecedented protests in the summer of 2010 in which over 100 youths were killed — apprised the governor and the state DGP soon after the phone call.
The law and order machinery in the state was put on high alert and forces had to be mobilised overnight, while ensuring secrecy was maintained. The state police’s job was made tougher by the fact that several CRPF companies usually deployed there are currently in the Northeast on election duty.
After the hanging, a decision was taken to not send Guru's body to his family, since that could inflame passions and create a law and order problem.