Born In: Baramulla district
Afzal Guru was an Indian separatist and “jihadi,” who was convicted for being involved in the 2001 attack on the Parliament House of India, in association with the Jaish-e-Mohammed. He was sentenced to death, and in spite of multiple appeals for review and clemency, the Supreme Court of India upheld the sentence. Following a final rejection of his mercy petition by the president of India, Afzal was executed on February 9, 2013. His death sparked massive protests in parts of Kashmir and in Delhi, with human rights activists, eminent scholars, and Kashmiri groups claiming he did not receive a fair trial and was convicted based on circumstantial evidence only. His wife and son continue to live in the Kashmir valley.
Also Known As: Mohammad Afzal Guru
Died At Age: 43
Spouse/Ex-: Tabasum Guru (m. 1998)
mother: Ayesha Begum
siblings: Aijaz Ahmad, Hilal Ahmad
children: Galib Guru
Born Country: India
place of death: Tihar Prison Complex, Delhi
education: University of Delhi
Mohammad Afzal Guru was born on June 30, 1969, in Du Aabgah, a village near the town of Sopore, in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir, India, to Habibullah and Ayesha Begum.
Habibullah owned a timber and transport business. He passed away when Afzal was Guru was quite young.
Afzal studied at the Government School of Sopore. In 1986, he passed his matriculation exam. He was known to be a good student and also participated in extracurricular activities.
In 1988, Afzal joined the Jhelum Valley Medical College to obtain an MBBS degree. However, after completing the first year of his course and while preparing for various competitive exams, he got involved into other activities.
He then graduated in political science from the University of Delhi (1993–1994).
While running a commission agency for fruits in Sopore, he came in touch with a man named Tariq from Anantnag. Tariq convinced him to join the “jihad” for the liberation of Kashmir.
Afzal then crossed the “Line of Control” (LOC) between India and Pakistan and traveled to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. In Muzaffarabad, he joined the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and then went back to Sopore to train 300 “jihadis.” During this time, he also did odd jobs and graduated from Delhi University.
While in Delhi, he stayed with his cousin Shaukat Husain Guru. Shaukat was acquainted with S.A.R. Geelani, a lecturer of Arabic at the University of Delhi. Over time, Afzal started visiting Geelani to discuss the "liberation" of Kashmir.
In 1993–1994, Afzal’s family convinced him to surrender to the Border Security Force (BSF). He then went back to Delhi and worked there till 1996.
Afzal joined a pharmaceuticals firm and worked as its area manager for a while. In 1996, he took up a job as a commission agent for medical products.
During this time, he would often travel from Delhi to Srinagar, and back. On such a routine visit to Kashmir, he got married.
On December 13, 2001, a few gunmen from the Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) launched a gun attack on the Indian Parliament. They apparently entered the Parliament premises using a car with “Home Ministry” and “Parliament” stickers.
The terrorists then drove into the then-vice-president Krishna Kant's car and started firing. All the VIPs escaped unhurt. The security personnel present at the parliament foiled the attack by launching a counter-attack, which lasted 30 minutes.
Nine people, including eight security personnel and a gardener, died in the attack, while 16 people, including 13 security personnel, were injured. The five terrorists involved in the attack were killed.
On December 15, 2001, the Delhi Police arrested Afzal Guru from Srinagar, in relation to the attack. Afzal’s cousin, Shaukat; Shaukat's wife, Afsan Guru; and S.A.R. Geelani, were also arrested. They were charged with offenses such as waging war against India, conspiracy, murder, and attempt to murder. Following this, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) was applied to their case.
On December 29, 2001, Afzal was sent to a 10-day police remand. A charge-sheet was filed on May 15, 2002. In June 2002, charges were officially filed against all four accused.
Following his arrest, Afzal had signed a confession. However, Afzal later claimed he had been forced to confess.
The trial began on July 8, 2002. About 80 witnesses for the prosecution and 10 witnesses for the accused were interrogated.
On December 18, 2002, based on the circumstantial evidence produced, the special court awarded Afzal, Shaukat, and Geelani capital punishment. Afsan was sent to 5 years in jail for hiding the plot.
Afzal was sentenced to life imprisonment on eight counts, under the provisions of IPC, POTA, and the Explosive Substances Act.
In August 2003, Ghazi Baba of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, a prime accused in the parliament attacks, died in an encounter with the BSF in Srinagar.
An appeal made to the Delhi High Court, regarding Afzal’s case, was dismissed and the previous sentence was retained. On October 29, 2003, however, Geelani and Afsan were acquitted by the High Court.
On August 4, 2005, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for Afzal, while commuting Shaukat’s sentence to 10 years of imprisonment.
Afzal filed a review petition at the Supreme Court, which was dismissed on September 22, 2005. In October the following year, Afzal's wife, Tabasum, appealed to the then-president of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, to commute his death sentence.
In June 2007, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal of the review of Afzal’s death sentence. Shaukat was released from Tihar Jail in December 2010, due to good conduct.
A number of human rights groups, Kashmiri groups, and eminent people such as Arundhati Roy and Praful Bidwai protested against the trial, saying it was unjust and that it was only based on circumstantial evidence.
On August 10, 2011, the home ministry of India rejected Afzal’s mercy petition and wrote to the president of India, recommending the death penalty.
On September 7, 2011, a bomb blast outside Delhi High Court resulted in the deaths of 11 people and injured 76 others. The Islamic fundamentalist group Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to protest against Afzal's death sentence.
On February 3, 2013, the president of India rejected Afzal’s mercy petition. Afzal was hanged to death at the Tihar Jail in Delhi, at 8 a.m. on February 9, 2013, in utmost secrecy. Before his execution, Afzal wrote a letter addressed to his family.
Only three doctors and the “maulvi” who was supposed to perform his last rites were informed about the execution the previous night. The operation was called Operation Three Star.
His family received the news of his execution on February 11, through a letter. The post-office employees in Srinagar said although they had received the letter on February 9, it could only be delivered on February 11, due to February 10 being a public holiday. Afzal Guru's body was buried inside the prison, to avoid a public funeral.
Following the execution, a curfew was imposed in Kashmir to prevent any political clashes. Cable TV lines and internet services were also cut off in Kashmir. However, protests erupted in Sopore, Baramulla, and Pulwama, with the police firing at the protestors, causing injuries on both sides. There were similar protests in Delhi, too.
Seven months after the execution, Ahle Imaan Ke Naam Shaheed Mohammad Afzal Guru Ka Aakhri Paigam (Martyr Afzal Guru's Last Message to the Peoples of Faith), a compilation of Afzal’s daily journals, including his calls for “jihad,” was published in 2013. The same year, Jaish-e-Mohammed published Aina (Mirror) in Lahore. It had 132 chapters written by Afzal and containing his explanation for a “jihad.” Apparently, Afzal had written the book in 2010 but had not been able to find a publisher.
Several books were written about him, such as Framing Geelani, Hanging Afzal: Patriotism in the Time of Terror by Nandita Haksar (2007), The Afzal Petition: A Quest for Justice by Nandita Haksar (editor, 2007), Phānsī (Hanging) by Shabnam Qayyum (2013), and The Hanging of Afzal Guru and the Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament (edited by Arundhati Roy, 2013).
Afzal Guru was married to Tabasum Guru from 1998 till his death in 2013. Their son, Ghalib Guru, was just 2 when Afzal was arrested for the Parliament attacks. The last time he saw his father was in August 2012.
After Afzal’s arrest in 2001, Tabasum joined a private hospital in Sopore as a manager.
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