New Delhi, Feb. 11: Afzal Guru’s last request to Tihar jail officials was for a pen and paper.
Minutes earlier, around 5.15 on Saturday morning, the Parliament attack convict had signed his death warrant. He now wanted to write a letter to his wife Tabassum and son Gahlib, 14.
“As soon as we gave him a pen and paper he asked us to leave him alone for half an hour. He told us he loved his wife and son very much and wanted to leave a message for them,” a senior jail official said.
After finishing the letter written in Urdu, Afzal handed the two pages to the officials. Asked what he had written, he said it was his “last message” for his wife and kid.
“Koi shikwa gila nahin likha hai. Sirf aakhri paigam hai unke liye (I have not written about my grievances or any complaints. I am leaving my last message for them),” he said.
“We felt sad when he remembered his son and prayed for his long life along with that of his wife. That was the only time his eyes moistened,” the official said.
Jail officials said Afzal appeared shaken after signing the death warrant but maintained his composure. “He told us he was not worried about his family and was leaving everything to God. He said the Almighty looks after everybody and He would take care of them. He said he was a god-fearing man and always believed in fate,” another prison official recalled.
Sunil Gupta, law officer, Tihar, today said the letter was posted on Saturday afternoon after the 8am hanging. “We sent it by Speed Post and, hopefully, they must have got it by today.”
The letter has not reached his wife yet. “We haven’t received any such letter till today,” Yaseen Guru, Afzal’s cousin, told The Telegraph from Kashmir.
Jail officials said Afzal was informed of his imminent hanging at 10pm on Friday when he was preparing to go to sleep. He spent the night praying and reciting the Quran.
He was calm when the hour of execution arrived and he was led out of his 16ftx12ft high-security cell to the gallows, barely 300 metres away. “Normally, terrorists or people involved in such crimes make political or religious speeches while being taken from their cell to the gallows. But he was quiet. We saw a faint smile on his face and he wished everybody ‘Khuda hafiz’ before facing the gallows,” a jail official said. “We have never seen a person facing death so calm.”
A Tihar source said Afzal used to spend most of his time reading or writing in his solitary cell. “He had a radio and listened to music occasionally.”
Afzal has left behind in his cell a collection of books on Urdu poetry, politics and religion, his own writings and a pair of spectacles. “We have kept all his belongings with us and they will be given to the family if the government asks us to do so,” said a senior official.
Nandita Haksar, one of the lawyers who represented Afzal, said he was an “avid” reader and writer. “I gave him many books on politics and religion and he loved reading Urdu poetry. I gave him some books written by Chomsky last year which he liked very much.”
Afzal had also asked for Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s India Wins Freedom from the jail library.
“We will meet the DG prisons tomorrow and ask her to give his belongings to the family and also to allow them to perform dua (prayer) at his grave inside the jail premises,” Haksar said.