India hangs man for ’01 attack in Parliament

Questions raised on trial’s fairness

Smoke from firecrackers rose as a group of Indians celebrated the hanging of Afzal Guru, whose portrait was shown, in Ahmadabad, India. Guru was convicted in 2002 in the deaths of 14 people.

Ajit Solanki/AP

Smoke from firecrackers rose as a group of Indians celebrated the hanging of Afzal Guru, whose portrait was shown, in Ahmadabad, India. Guru was convicted in 2002 in the deaths of 14 people.

NEW DELHI — A Kashmiri man convicted in a 2001 attack on India’s Parliament that left 14 people dead was hanged Saturday after a final mercy plea was rejected, a senior Indian Home Ministry official said.

Home Secretary R.K. Singh told reporters Afzal Guru was executed early Saturday morning at New Delhi’s Tihar prison.


‘‘It was the law taking its course,’’ Singh said.

Guru was given a Muslim burial in the prison compound, Press Trust of India news agency reported. His family in India’s Jammu-Kashmir state has demanded that his body be handed over, but that seems unlikely becaue of the highly sensitive nature of the execution.

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Guru had been on death row since being convicted in 2002. Subsequent appeals in higher courts were also rejected, and India’s Supreme Court set an execution date for October 2006. But his execution was delayed after his wife filed a mercy petition with India’s president. That petition, the last step in the judicial process, was turned down last week.

Some rights groups across India and political groups in Indian Kashmir have said that Guru did not get a fair trial.

‘‘Serious questions have been raised about the fairness of Afzal Guru’s trial,’’ Shashikumar Velath, Amnesty International India’s programs director, said in a statement. ‘‘He did not receive legal representation of his choice or a lawyer with adequate experience at the trial stage. These concerns were not addressed.’’


Protests erupted Saturday in at least four parts of Indian Kashmir, including Sopore, which was Guru’s hometown. Scores of protesters chanting slogans including ‘‘We want freedom’’ and ‘‘Down with India’’ defied a curfew and clashed with police and paramilitary troops, who opened fire. Four protesters sustained bullet wounds and one of them was in critical condition, a senior police officer said on customary condition of anonymity.

Thousands of police and paramilitary troops fanned out across the state preparing for more protests and violence after the announcement of the execution. A curfew was also imposed in most parts of Indian Kashmir, and cable television channels were cut off in the region.

About 30 Kashmiri students and antideath penalty activists clashed with Indian police and right-wing Hindu groups in New Delhi. Most of the protesters were detained by the police.

Police in Indian Kashmir also detained on Saturday several leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization of separatist political and religious groups, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The group called for four days mourning in the disputed region and called Guru’s hanging ‘‘an attack on the collective conscience of the Kashmiri people.’’

‘‘We appeal to the people to rise in one voice and protest this aggressive act so that it’s known to everyone that even if the heads of Kashmiris are cut, they’ll never bow under any circumstances,’’ the group said in a statement.

The statement said that Indian Kashmir’s chief cleric, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who ­also heads the separatist alliance, was detained in New Delhi and not allowed to travel to Srinagar, the main city of Indian Kashmir. Another top separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani, was also detained.

‘Serious questions have been raised about the fairness of Afzal Guru’s trial.’

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When Guru’s death sentence was handed down by India’s Supreme Court it sparked protests in Kashmir, and the state government has warned that his execution could destabilize the volatile Himalayan region.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Muslim-majority Kashmir, which is divided between Hindu-dominated India and Muslim-majority Pakistan but is claimed by both nations.

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