New Delhi (TIP): AfzalGuru, convicted of plottingthe Parliament attack 11years ago, was quietlyexecuted at Tihar jail earlyon February 9. The hangingwas carried out indramatic secrecy amidfears that it could revivestreet protests in Kashmir.Guru was convicted ofplotting and providinglogistic support to the fiveJaish-e-Mohammedterrorists who stormedParliament on December13, 2001. The attack was foiled, the terrorists killedand a packed House oflawmakers saved, but notbefore eight securitypersonnel and a gardener losttheir lives. A tenth victim, ajournalist, died of injuries afew months later.The hanging is being seenas Congress’ renewedattempts after the party’srecent Jaipur conclave toappeal to the urban middleclass.

As the UPA governmentdithered on taking a decisionon his mercy plea for years,Afzal came to symbolise whatthe BJP called the Congress’soft approach on terrorism.The hanging of Afzal, andbefore him 26/11 killer AjmalKasab last November, bluntsthis attack.On February 9 morning, aquiet but unrepentant Afzalwas hanged in Jail No. 3 ofTihar prison at 8am, less thana week after President PranabMukherjee rejected the mercypetition filed by the convictand his wife more than sixyears ago. Home ministerSushil Kumar Shinde andhome secretary RK Singhseparately stood in front ofTV cameras to announce thehanging.“Afzal Guru was hanged at8am. All legal procedureswere followed,” Shinde toldreporters.

He was later buriedon the jail premises.RK Singh said Tiharauthorities had intimatedAfzal’s family in Kashmir ofthe rejection of his mercy pleathrough Speed Post andregistered post and the DG(director general of Jammu &Kashmir Police) had been toldto check with them whetherthey had got it or not.The BJP was quick towelcome the hanging. Leaderof Opposition Arun Jaitleysaid: “Though belated, justicehas been done.”

Gujarat chiefminister Narendra Modi, whohas often used Afzal to attackthe UPA, tweeted: “Der aayedurust aaye (better late thannever).”Information andbroadcasting minister ManishTewari insisted in Chennaithat politics did not haveanything to do with theexecution, a point the homesecretary also made in Delhi.In Sopore, Afzal’s hometownin north Kashmir, and manyother places in the Valley,security forces imposedcurfew, detained separatistleaders and shut down cableTV networks. Chief ministerOmar Abdullah appealed forpeace and ordered police toexercise restraint in handlingstreet protests. By evening, 36people — mostly policemen —had been injured in strayviolence.