Afzal Was Calm, Prayed in Final Moments

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NEW DELHI: At 8 am on Saturday, Afzal Guru was hanged and buried after two hours in Delhi’s Tihar jail, three days before the 29th anniversary of the execution of pro-independence leader Maqbool Bhat in the same jail.

“He (Guru) was buried near jail number three adjacent to the grave of Maqbool,” news reports quoting jail officials said.

Guru, who spent over 10 years on death row in the prison, was lodged in a 16-feet long and 12-feet wide death row cell in Jail No 3.

The official said it was a sleepless night for Guru who was told to get ready at around 5 AM. He was offered tea but he did not have it. He offered Namaz immediately after getting up and was taken to the gallows at 7:30 AM.

Agencies quoting sources said Guru was hanged for 15 minutes. He had sought a copy of Quran last evening after he was told about the impending execution.

Director General of Prisons Vimla Mehra said Guru appeared “remorseless” in his final hours. A doctor carried out a health check up of Guru before he was taken to

Guru was buried quietly soon near his cell. After he was woken up at 5 a.m., he offered prayers before calmly approaching the noose, officials said.

The jail authorities refused to share any details about whether he had any last wish or about any final words.

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 right wing Hindu  party, the BJP, racheting up the political pressure on the UPA government to hang Guru.

“Better late than never,” Narendra 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 was from Doabgah (Seer) village on the outskirts of north Kashmir’s apple-rich town of Sopore, 52 km from Srinagar. 

He is survived by his wife Tabassum and 14-year-old son Ghalib. 

Afzal Guru was arrested after the Dec 13, 2001, terror attack on parliament. He was convicted along with Shaukat Hussain, Afshan Guru (Shaukat’s wife) and Delhi University teacher SAR Geelani for being part of the plot. 

The Supreme Court confirmed Afzal Guru’s death sentence in 2004 while Shaukat Guru was released after he served his jail term. 

Afshan Guru and Syed Aabdur Rahman Geelani were given benefit of doubt and released by the Supreme Court. 

The family of Guru residing in Sopore was informed about the decision of the Government that his mercy petition has been rejected, officials said.

However, Guru’s lawyers Nandita Haksar and N Pancholi said his family was not informed about the government decision to hang him.

The lawyers said the family came to know about Guru’s hanging only through news channels.

“The family was not informed about the decision. They came to know only through news channels. The family is in Sopore. They cannot come due to curfew,” the lawyers said.

Afzal Guru’s final moments before being executed: 

•  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 holy Quran 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

•  After he was woken up at 5 a.m., he offered prayers before calmly approaching the noose.

•  Guru was buried inside jail premises near barrack 3 where hangman was called. Hangman’s details not disclosed.

•  Guru was buried quietly soon near his cell. 

•  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. With inputs from agencies

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