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Controversy follows Delhi parliament plotter's death
Publication Date : 11-02-2013
Did the Indian government make a serious effort to communicate to Afzal Guru’s family about the decision to hang him for the 2001 Parliament attack?
A controversy has erupted over the issue as Guru’s family has alleged that they came to know about the hanging from TV channels and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has joined the criticism.
“Guru’s family was informed about the decision of the Government; a speed post (letter) was sent to them stating that his mercy petition had been rejected,” Union Home Secretary R K Singh said on Saturday. However, the family claimed to not have received any such communication.
Abdullah questioned the rationale of informing Guru’s family through speed post, saying the reliability of the medium was questionable. “I cannot reconcile myself to the fact that his (Afzal) family was not allowed to see him before he was executed. That to my mind, on a human level, is the biggest tragedy of this execution,” he said.
Vimla Mehra, Director (Prisons) had reportedly stated that the Union Home Ministry informed Tihar jail authorities about the rejection of Guru’s clemency plea on February 4 and asked them to make arrangements for hanging him. Following this communication, a black warrant was issued for the hanging and Tihar jail received a copy in the evening of February 6, Mehra said.
Jail sources said they then readied a letter, mentioning the date and time of the execution, to be sent to Guru’s family past midnight at 12:10am (February 7). Effectively, the letter was sent on the morning of February 7, they noted.
Other sources said the centre’s communication regarding Guru’s mercy petition being rejected by the president was sent to the family on February 7, while notice about his hanging was sent on February 8.
When asked whether the authorities got confirmation of the receipt of the letter, jail sources said they did not have any information in this regard.
Union home secretary R K Singh spoke to the J&K DGP Ashok Prasad at around 8pm on the night before the hanging, asking him to check if the family had received the letter from the Centre the next morning. Union Minister of State for Home R P N Singh told a TV channel as far as he knew, the family was told and they knew it. He replied in the affirmative when asked whether Guru's body was deliberately not returned to the family.