India reacts to Afzal Guru's hanging

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 13, 2013 18:09 hrs

Indians, including politicians across party lines, welcomed the hanging of Parliament-attack convict Afzal Guru on Saturday morning.

Guru was hanged at Delhi´s Tihar Jail on Saturday. The execution took place at 8am and he was buried soon after at the jail, where he had been lodged for nearly eight years.

Confirming that Guru has been hanged, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters: "The President rejected Afzal Guru´s mercy petition on February 3 and after that, I signed it on February 4."

He said: "The procedure was followed and the date was confirmed by the judicial officer on 8th. The time was also confirmed. And today at 8 am, he was hanged."

Speaking on the matter, Union Home Secretary RK Singh said: "The law has taken its course."

He said Guru´s family was sent a letter via speed post which said that his petition for clemency had been rejected by the President and that he would be hanged in Tihar Jail.

Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh said it was not the time ´for politics´.

"Afzal Guru hanged this morning.This is not a time for politics but calm, restraint and sobriety," he tweeted.

"Kasab & Afzal Guru targeted the Indian state, the idea of India. India has responded decisively, after every due legal, constitutional process," Singh said.

Information and Broadcasting Minister ManishTewari told media: "There has been some narrative in the media that the decision was motivated by electoral considerations. Nothing is more false. The government´s decisions on internal security are devoid of political considerations."

Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said the Opposition should not ´politicise´ the issue of Guru´s execution.

"The government has acted responsibly...The Opposition should not politicise the issue," Digvijaya Singh told media.

"I urge the government to conduct trials of terrorism cases in fast-track courts," he said.

India´s main opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed the decision but questioned the delay in executing the Parliament-attack convict.

"The execution was delayed but is undoubtedly welcome," said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

"The people of this country had been waiting for this for a long time," he said, adding that this was a right step in the fight against terrorism.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said public opinion ´compelled´ the government to act in the case.

"In the case of Afzal Guru, all judicial authorities have affirmed his guilt and upheld the death sentence. His Clemency Petition has been rejected by the President. For reasons which the Government has been unable to explain the execution was delayed," Jaitley said in a statement.

"But finally the law has taken its own course. Public opinion has compelled the Government to act and enforce the law. India must today, as it did on 13th December 2001 speak in one voice and give a clear message to the world that India is not a soft state and those who attack India, its' sovereignty and its institutions, will be held accountable. Though belated, Justice has been done," he said.

Gujarat Chief Minister Naredra Modi tweeted: "Der aye durustha aye! #Afzal Guru (Better late than never)."

Questioning the delay in executing Guru, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told media: "Justice has been delivered at last. People of the entire country have this feeling that it should have taken place earlier."

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan told reporters: "The entire country is delighted and relieved following Afzal´s execution. But one question always strikes in the mind as to why there has been so much delay in hanging Afzal Guru."

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said: "My party welcomes this decision of the government."

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) spokesperson Ram Madhav tweeted: "Afzal Guru´s hanging is welcome. He hd challenged d sovereign power of India by attacking our Parliament. He deserved to be shown that power."

"I am sure we as a sovereign nation will forcefully counter the fall out n frustrate d attempts of Afzal´s chelas who r active here n there," he said.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut told media: "The government showed courage in hanging Guru."

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has appealed for calm in the Valley in the wake of the hanging of Guru.

"I appeal to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to keep calm. We have taken steps to maintain order," Abdullah told media.

Omar said he received a call from the Union Home Minister about the hanging at 8pm on Friday.

He said since there was no case against Guru in Kashmir, the state government did not have to sign the execution papers.

Expressing disappointment over the move, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Nayeem Akhtar told media: "The PDP is disappointed at the hanging of Afzal Guru."

Condemning the move, All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani said Guru was not involved in the Parliament attack.

Geelani told media: "We declare it as injustice because our stand on Afzal Guru ´sahab´ is that he was not involved in the Parliament attack. Personally, he was not involved in the attack. He was not given the chance to defend himself in the trial court....On the basis of that, I can say that the punishment given to him is injustice and I condemn this."

Former top cop turned social activist Kiran Bedi tweeted: "Afzal Guru hanged. Law finally turned FULL circle!"

Meanwhile, curfew has been imposed on all the 10 districts of Kashmir following the hanging of Afzal Guru on Saturday morning.

Both capital Srinagar and Guru´s hometown Sopore are under curfew. The army is on high alert.

Cable TV services have been disconnected in some areas, said reports.

Apart from politicians, common men reacted to the hanging of Guru and expressed their thoughts on micro-blogging site Twitter.

One Meena Kandasamy tweeted: "Afzal Guru hanged. So our government is now a secret society that does secret hangings."

Another netizen Jaffer said: "Kasab hanged just before winter session.. Afzal guru hanged just before budget session! Coincidence? #Afazalguru."

One Varid Aeron tweeted: "First kasab then afzal guru hanged without any prior information , is the govt trying that hard to win next years election."

Another Dhanunjay said: "Afzal guru hanged but still the people are talking about human rights..!"

Guru´s execution was initially scheduled for Oct 20, 2006. But it was stayed after Guru´s wife filed a mercy petition with the President.

In December 2001, nine people were killed when five terrorists drove into the Parliament complex and opened fire. All the terrorists were shot dead.

Guru was arrested shortly after the attack and accused of planning it.

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