Afzal Guru, convicted in the audacious attack on Parliament in 2001, was today hanged in Tihar Jail, in an operation shrouded in secrecy.

“Afzal Guru was hanged at 8 AM,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said shortly after the execution of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant.

The mercy plea of 43-year-old Guru, who was sentenced to death in 2002 by a special court and later upheld by the Supreme Court in 2004, was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee a few days back, Rashtrapati Bhavan spokespeman Venu Rajamony said.

Reminiscent of the hanging of Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab on November 21 last year, Guru’s execution was kept under wraps in a top secret operation.

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.

The body of Guru, who has been in the death row for over 10 years, is likely to be buried in Tihar Jail itself as it was done in the case of Kasab who was buried in Pune’s Yerwada jail soon after his execution.

Curfew was imposed in the Kashmir Valley in the wee hours today. Jammu and Kashmir Minister Omar Abdullah, DGP Ashok Prasad and other senior officers flew from Jammu to Srinagar early this morning to keep a close watch on the law and order situation.

Pro-Pakistan separatist groups have given a call for a three-day shut down in the Valley.

Guru was convicted on charges conspiracy in the December 2001 attack on Parliament and was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in 2004.

On December 13, 2001, five heavily-armed gunmen stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing nine persons.

They included five Delhi Police personnel, a woman Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) official, two Parliament watch and ward staff and a gardener.

A journalist, who was injured, died later. All five terrorists were shot dead.

Guru was arrested within hours after the attack from a bus in the national capital.

Guru walked to the gallows at around 7.30 AM and appeared calm, a top Tihar Jail official said.

A former fruit merchant, Guru was sentenced to death along with Delhi University Professor S A R Gilani and Shaukat Hussain. Hussain’s wife Afsan was let off.

Gilani was, however, let off by the High Court in 2003 while the sentence of Guru and Hussain was upheld.

The Supreme Court confirmed the death penalty of Guru in 2005 while in the case of Hussain, it was commuted to 10 years.

The Home Minister said Guru’s case was recommended by the Home Ministry in 2011. “After that there was a new President and a new Home Minister. The President sent Guru’s file to the Home Ministry.

“We sent it to the President on January 21, 2013. On February 3, the President sent Guru’s file rejecting the mercy plea to the Home Ministry. I put my signature on February four and sent it for further execution to the department. The due procedure was followed and it was then decided that the hanging will take place on February 8 (today) at 8 AM,” he said.

He is the second Kashmiri militant who has been hanged after JKLF leader Maqbool Bhat who was executed on february 11, 1984.

(This article was published on February 9, 2013)
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