Indian parliament plotter hanged

NEW DELHI - Parliament attack convict Mohammed Afzal Guru was hanged and buried in Tihar Jail here in a secretive operation this morning, six days after the rejection of his clemency petition by President Pranab Mukherjee.

The 43-year-old Guru, a resident of Sopore in North Kashmir, was executed at 8am in Tihar Jail and buried on the high-security prison premises itself. He had been on death row for over a decade for his involvement in the Dec 13, 2001 terror attack on Parliament. His hanging is likely to have political and security ramifications for the country, particularly in Jammu & Kashmir.

In anticipation of the fallout of the execution, an indefinite curfew was imposed in the Kashmir Valley from where incidents of protests against the hanging have been reported. The Centre issued an advisory to all state police forces to keep a tight vigil in view of Guru's hanging. The national capital, Mumbai and other major cities were put on high alert.

Convicted for his role in aiding and abetting the Parliament terror attack, a special court had sentenced Guru to death in December 2002, which was upheld by Delhi High Court in 2003 and by the Supreme Court in August 2005.

On Dec 13, 2001, five heavily-armed gunmen had stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing five Delhi Police personnel, a woman CRPF official, two Parliament watch and ward staff and a gardener. A journalist, who was seriously wounded, died later. All five terrorists were killed by security forces in the firefight in the Parliament premises. Guru was reportedly arrested soon after the Parliament attack from a place in Delhi.

Speaking to reporters immediately after Guru's execution this morning, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said, "I examined the file carefully and recommended to the President on January 21 for rejection of Afzal Guru's petition. On February 3, the President sent Guru's file rejecting the mercy plea to the home ministry. I put my signature on 4 February....The due procedure was followed."

Guru was taken to the gallows at around 7.30 a.m. and he appeared to be "calm", a Tihar Jail official was quoted as saying. Union home secretary R K Singh said Guru's family was informed about the rejection of his mercy petition by speed post. His family is reported to have disputed this, even as demands for returning his body to them were stridently made.

The chiefs of both factions of the Hurriyat Conference ~ Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq ~ who were in the national capital, were placed under house arrest as a preventive measure following Guru's execution. Both the factions are said to have given a call for a strike in protest against his hanging in Kashmir.

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