Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri fruit seller who helped Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists carry out the dastardly attack on Parliament in 2001, was on Saturday hanged and buried in Tihar jail in a secret early morning operation.
The 43-year-old resident of Sopore in North Kashmir was said to have been calm and composed when he was taken to the gallows. He was hanged at 8 am in the high-security prison number 3 of Tihar jail, six days after his mercy plea was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee.
He had been on the death row for over 10 years after being convicted for his role in aiding and abetting the attack. A special court had sentenced Guru to death in December 2002 and the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court on August 4, 2005.
The body of Guru, who was found guilty of conspiring and sheltering the militants who attacked Parliament on December 13, 2001, in which nine people were killed, was buried in the prison premises as per the jail manual.
Apprehending possible backlash, an indefinite curfew was clamped in Kashmir Valley and security beefed up. Jammu and Kashmir Minister Omar Abdullah, Director General of Police Ashok Prasad and other senior officers flew from Jammu to Srinagar on Saturday to keep a close watch on the law and order situation.
"Afzal Guru was hanged at 8 am," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters shortly after the execution. Guru was taken to the gallows at around 7.30 am and he appeared calm, a top Tihar Jail official said.
His family was informed about the decision of the government through speed post, Union Home Secretary R K Singh said.
Guru's mercy plea was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 3.
"I examined the file carefully and recommended to the President on January 21 for rejection of Afzal Guru's petition," the home minister said.
Political parties welcomed the decision as the rule of law taking its own course while the Bharatiya Janata Party questioned the delay in the execution.
“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 4 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 9 at 8 am," Shinde said.
Similar to the hanging of Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani national, on November 21 last year, the execution of Guru was kept under wraps in a top secret
In Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah appealed to people to maintain calm and not allow those with vested interests to exploit the situation. He denied reports that the army has been called in to maintain law and order.
The Moderate Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has declared a four-day mourning. A complete shutdown will be observed during this period, Shahidul Islam, spokesman of the amalgam, said.
Guru is the second Kashmiri militant to be hanged after Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Maqbool Bhat who was executed on February 11, 1984 for the murder of Indian diplomat Ravindra Mhatre in United Kingdom.
The attack on Parliament had escalated Indo-Pakistan tensions, with India scaling down diplomatic presence in Islamabad, revoking air links and mobilising troops along the western border.
Guru was sentenced to death along with Delhi University professor S A R Gilani and Shaukat Hussain.
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.
On December 13, 2001, five heavily-armed terrorists stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing five Delhi Police personnel, a woman Central Reserve Police Force official, two Parliament watch and ward staff and a gardener.
A journalist, who was injured, died later. All five terrorists were shot dead by security forces.
Guru was arrested within hours after the attack from a truck in the national capital.