The night before he was hanged, 43-year-old Mohammed Afzal Guru, the 2001 Parliament attack convict, did not sleep. He was in deep thought, pacing the floor of his cell.
But when the time came for him to accompany jail officials to the gallows, he looked calm. Minutes before he was hanged, Afzal told the officials that he wanted to offer his final prayers.
On Friday evening, a deputy superintendent of Tihar jail informed him about his execution at 8am on Saturday. “Afzal first asked whether the official was serious and then he fell silent,” said a source.
At night, the authorities offered him his favourite dinner. He ate his dinner calmly and then asked for some milk. At 5am the next morning, Afzal bathed, prayed and had breakfast before a doctor checked his health.
According to director general of Tihar jail Vimla Mehra, “Afzal Guru, before the hanging, was in a composed and healthy state.”
Mehra, who declined to comment on the secret exercise that led to hangings, said, “Guru was chatting with all who met him before the hanging… he was in a philosophical mood.”
“He was taken to the gallows at 7.30am,” a jail official said.
The end came at 8am at sub-jail 3 of Tihar, where Afzal spent over 10 years on death row. He was hanged for eight minutes and declared dead by the doctor 30 minutes later.
“He did not make any final wish, there is no such requirement as per the rules,” said the source.
A day earlier, a professional executioner arrived from the Meerut prison in Uttar Pradesh. A custom-built rope, made of waxed cotton yarn, was spun by convicts at Bihar’s Buxar jail to hang Afzal.
Afzal was buried, in accordance with Islamic rituals, at an unmarked spot under the supervision of a Muslim cleric in the same compound where another Kashmiri militant, Maqbool Bhat, was buried in February 1984.
Afzal was found guilty of conspiring and sheltering the militants who attacked Parliament on December 13, 2001, in which 10 people were killed.
His execution was the first to take place in Tihar in more than two decades. The last hanging was in 1989 when the killers of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, Satwant and Kehar Singh, went to the gallows.