New Delhi, Feb. 10 (PTI): A controversy erupted today over the purported communication from the Centre to the family of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru about the decision to hang him, with Omar Abdullah questioning the use of speed post.
“If we are going to inform someone by post that his family member is going to be hanged, there is something seriously wrong with the system,” the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said.
Afzal’s family claims they got the news from television after he had been hanged at 8am yesterday.
Union home secretary R.K. Singh had denied that the family, who live in Sopore in north Kashmir, were kept in the dark. “Guru’s family was informed about the decision of the government that his mercy petition has been rejected. This was done through speed postů” he said yesterday.
Omar today said it was a “tragedy” that Afzal, 43, was not allowed to meet his family before he was hanged and not allowed a “final farewell”. He said his government could have arranged a plane to take the family to Delhi to meet the convict.
“I cannot reconcile myself to the fact that his (Afzal) family was not allowed to see him before he was killed or executed. That to my mind, on a human level, is the biggest tragedy of this execution,” the chief minister said.
Director (prisons) Vimla Mehra told PTI that the Union home ministry informed the Tihar jail authorities about the rejection of the clemency plea on February 4 and asked them to prepare for the hanging.
The Tihar authorities co-ordinated with home ministry officials, following which a decision was taken to get a black warrant issued, Mehra said. A black warrant is a writ authorising the execution of a capital punishment.
The Tihar authorities received a copy of the black warrant late in the evening of February 6 and they got a letter ready to be sent to Guru’s family at 12.10am (February 7), jail sources said. The letter was sent to the family on the morning of February 7.
Asked whether the authorities got confirmation of receipt of the letter, the jail sources said they did not have any information.
Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde communicated to Omar about the impending execution at 8pm on Friday.
Union home secretary Singh also spoke to Jammu and Kashmir DGP Ashok Prasad at the same time telling him to check with the family the next morning whether the communication from the Centre had reached them.
Sources said the Centre’s communication on the President’s rejection of Afzal’s mercy petition was sent to the family on February 7 and about his hanging on February 8.
Union minister of state for home R.P.N. Singh said it was incorrect to say that the family was not informed. “As far as I know, the family was told and they knew it,” he told a TV channel.