NEW DELHI: Afzal Guru, the Kashmiri leader allegedly involved in the deadly attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, was executed on Saturday morning after his final mercy plea was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee.
Mohammed Afzal Guru, a former fruit seller, was hanged at Tihar Jail at around 7:30am becoming only the second person to be hanged in India in nearly a decade.
Home Secretary R K Singh in a briefing confirmed, “Yes, he has been hanged.”
Guru was found guilty of conspiring with and sheltering the militants who attacked parliament in Dec 2001.
His hanging took place in as secret an operation as in the case of the hanging of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case convict Mohammed Ajmal Kasab who was hanged to death in a Pune jail in November last year.
Afzal Guru was handed down the death sentence by the Indian Supreme Court in 2004. His hanging, scheduled for October 2006, was stayed after his wife filed a mercy petition on his behalf to the Indian president.
The entire Kashmir valley has been placed under strict curfew in the wake of the hanging of Afzal Guru.
Reports said the civil and police administration was informed of the hanging of Afzal Guru at about 5:00am after he was hanged to death inside the Tihar jail at about 4.30am on Saturday.
Incidentally, Indian Held Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was in New Delhi on Friday and reports said that he was himself caught unawares about the rejection of the mercy plea of Afzal Guru by the Indian president.
The authorities in Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley heard an announcement through loudspeakers to remain indoors after Fajr prayer and a heavy deployment of paramilitary forces and police was placed in the sensitive areas of the Miasuma locality in uptown besides areas in downtown, the reports said.
The authorities have even closed the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway for the day to avert any trouble. A large number of paramilitary personnel have been deployed outside the houses of separatist leaders to prevent them from coming out on the streets fearing trouble in the Valley.
Reports said Srinagar residents are informing one another on the phone about the imposition of curfew in the Valley and trying to find out about the situation in their respective areas.
Incidentally, the hanging of Guru came two days before February 11 when JKLF activists were preparing to observe “Martyr’s Day” to mark the anniversary of the hanging of their founder leader Maqbool Butt, who was hanged to death in Tihar jail on February 11 in 1983 after he was held guilty of killing a bank manager in the border district of Kupwara in a bank robbery case.
The separatist leaders and mainstream politicians were averse to the hanging of Guru and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wanted that his hanging should be delayed for the time being during his rule in the state. Afzal Guru hailed from Sopore in north Kashmir.
While some sources say that Afzal Guru’s mercy appeal was rejected on Friday, some sources say that it was rejected by the president on January 23, 2013.
Meanwhile, the All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) strongly condemned the hanging of Muhammad Afzal Guru and described the incident as an attack on the collective conscience of the Kashmiris.
The APHC in a statement issued in Srinagar urged the people of Kashmir to observe four days of mourning and demanded the shifting of the body of Afzal Guru so that he could be buried in accordance with Islamic teachings, the Kashmir Media Service reported.
The statement said that the execution of Afzal Guru was linked to the coming general elections in India, adding that the shedding of Kashmiris’ blood for victory in the polls was not acceptable to the Kashmiris.
On the other hand, APHC Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is in New Delhi, on hearing the news of Guru’s execution, tried to leave for Srinagar, but Indian police did not allow him to leave his residence and took his mobile phone into their custody.
Meanwhile, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government announced three-day mourning over the killing of Afzal Guru on what they claimed were framed charges.
AJK government spokesman Shaukat Javed Mir said that the Kashmiris would observe three-day mourning and the AJK flag would fly at half mast and all the government functions had been suspended.
The news about the execution of Afzal Guru spread like wildfire in the capital city of AJK and engulfed the Kashmiris in deep shock and anger as the people came out on the streets raising slogans against Indian atrocities.
Asim Hussain adds from Lahore: Meanwhile, the Indian authorities’ secret execution of Afzal Guru sparked strong reaction from religious parties and Kashmiri organisations across the country who termed it the murder of justice and the worst kind of state terrorism besides display of state prejudice against the Muslims.
Protesters came out on the roads, raising slogans against India and burning Indian flags and effigies of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders. They demanded of the Pakistani authorities to avenge India for its crimes against the Muslims and reverse the decision to award Delhi MFN status.
In Lahore, the Tehrik Azadi Jammu Kashmir (TAJK) and Jamaatud Dawah (JD) organised a demonstration outside the Lahore Press Club led by TAJK Secretary General Hafiz Khalid Waleed, AJK JD leader Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi and others.
The protesters were addressed by Muttahida Talaba Mahaz and Al-Muhammadia students’ organisation Ameer Muhammad Haris Dar, Ali Imran Shaheen, Saqib Majeed, Muhammad Ahsan and others.
Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Munawar Hasan in a strong response condemned the execution of Afzal Guru without any evidence against him, and termed it the murder of justice and the worst example of communal bias against the Muslims in India.
Jamaatud Dawah Ameer Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) leaders termed the execution of Afzal Guru a blatant murder of justice by Delhi to crush and suppress the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle and open violation of international laws and norms of justice.
Tehrik Azadi Jammu Kashmir Chairman Hafiz Saifullah Mansoor, DPC leader Maulana Ameer Hamza and AJK JD Ameer Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi said the executing Afzal Goru without giving him chance to openly defend himself and in the absence of solid proof exposed the real anti-Muslim face of India from under the veneer of secularism and as a champion of democracy.
They said the entire Kashmiri nation and Pakistanis love Guru for his struggle for freedom and would continue to hold him in high esteem irrespective of Indian state terrorism against Muslims and Kashmriris.