Afzal Guru hanged at last

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Feb 10, 2013 02:38 IST
  • Tihar jail

    Two prisoners escaped the Tihar Jail by climbing a wall and digging a tunnel on Saturday night. One of them has been recaptured by the ...

  • Afzal Guru

    Demonstrators carry placards and posters and an effigy depicting Mohammad Afzal Guru during celebrations in Ahmedabad. Reuters

  • Demonstrators

    Demonstrators hold a poster of Mohammad Afzal Guru as they take cover from coloured smoke released by fellow demonstrators during celebrations in Ahmedabad. Reuters

  • Tihar Jail

    An policeman stands guard at a watchtower at Tihar Jail, where Mohammed Afzal Guru was reportedly hanged, in New Delhi. AFP

  • Tihar Jail

    Govt has banned entry of journalists, NGO activists and filmmakers into jails for writing articles or taking interviews of inmates. (AFP File Photo)

  • Tihar Jail

    Police keep watch outside Tihar Jail, where Mohammed Afzal Guru was reportedly hanged, in New Delhi. AFP

  • Omar Abdullah

    Chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah during press conference in Srinagar. PTI

  • Afzal Guru

    In this Dec 17, 2002 file photo, Mohammed Afzal Guru is produced at a court in New Delhi. AP/Aman Sharma/File

  • Soldiers

    Paramilitary soldiers interrogate a civilian near a barbed wire set up as road blockade during curfew in Srinagar. AP/Mukhtar Khan

  • Kashmiri women

    Kashmiri women carrry groceries as they cross a bridge behind coils of concertina wire during restrictions in Srinagar. Reuters/Danish Ismail

Afzal Guru, convicted of plotting the Parliament attack 11 years ago, was quietly executed at Tihar jail early on Saturday. The hanging was carried out in dramatic secrecy amid fears that it could revive street protests in Kashmir.

Guru was convicted of plotting and providing logistic support to the five Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists who stormed Parliament on December 13, 2001. The attack was foiled, the terrorists killed and a packed House of lawmakers saved, but not before eight security personnel and a gardener lost their lives. A tenth victim, a journalist, died of injuries a few months later.

The hanging is being seen as Congress’ renewed attempts after the party’s recent Jaipur conclave to appeal to the urban middle class. As the UPA government dithered on taking a decision on his mercy plea for years, Afzal came to symbolise what the BJP called the Congress’ soft approach on terrorism. The hanging of Afzal, and before him 26/11 killer Ajmal Kasab last November, blunts this attack.

On Saturday morning, a quiet but unrepentant Afzal was hanged in Jail No. 3 of Tihar prison at 8am, less than a week after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the mercy petition filed by the convict and his wife more than six years ago. Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and home secretary RK Singh separately stood in front of TV cameras to announce the hanging.

“Afzal Guru was hanged at 8am. All legal procedures were followed,” Shinde told reporters. He was later buried on the jail premises.

RK Singh said Tihar authorities had intimated Afzal’s family in Kashmir of the rejection of his mercy plea through Speed Post and registered post and the DG (director general of Jammu & Kashmir Police) had been told to check with them whether they had got it or not.

The BJP was quick to welcome the hanging. Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said: “Though belated, justice has been done.” Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who has often used Afzal to attack the UPA, tweeted: “Der aaye durust aaye (better late than never).”

Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari insisted in Chennai that politics did not have anything to do with the execution, a point the home secretary also made in Delhi.

In Sopore, Afzal’s hometown in north Kashmir, and many other places in the Valley, security forces imposed curfew, detained separatist leaders and shut down cable TV networks. Chief minister Omar Abdullah appealed for peace and ordered police to exercise restraint in handling street protests. By evening, 36 people — mostly policemen — had been injured in stray violence.


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