Two hours later, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde made a formal announcement. He said his ministry had recommended to President Pranab Mukherjee on January 21 that Guru be executed. The President, he said, rejected the convict's mercy petition on February 3, the execution order was signed the next day, and the date and time for hanging him was fixed on February 8, yesterday. (Read: Afzal Guru buried in Delhi's Tihar Jail)
Guru was hanged and buried close to the high security cell no 3 at Tihar, where he spent over eight years on death row. (Afzal Guru was calm in final moments: Tihar official)
Mr Shinde said all legal procedure was followed in Guru's execution. Home Secretary RK Singh refuted allegations that Guru's wife, Tabassum, and family were not informed about his mercy petition being rejected, saying that they had been sent a speed post and registered letter.
Mr Shinde said the Centre is closely watching the situation in Kashmir, where curfew has been imposed in all 10 districts of the Valley to prevent violent reactions. Cable TV services have been disconnected in some parts; Afzal Guru belonged to Sopore in Kashmir and many in the state Guru was not given a fair trial. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said repeatedly that Guru's hanging could have grave consequences. He was in Delhi this morning and has rushed back to his state. (Afzal Guru hanging: stay calm, appeals Omar Abdullah; curfew in Valley)
Afzal Guru was given the death sentence by the Supreme Court in 2004. His hanging, scheduled for October 20, 2006, was stayed after his wife filed the mercy petition, which had been pending with the President's office since.
The main opposition party, the BJP, has for long questioned the delay. Today, the BJP said the execution was "delayed but is undoubtedly welcome." "The people of this country had been waiting for this for a long time. This is a right step in the fight against terrorism," BJP's Rajiv Pratap Rudy added.
The politically-sensitive decision to go ahead with the execution is aimed at signalling the government's commitment to fighting terror. In November, in a similar secret operation, Pakistani terrorist Ajman Kasab, caught during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, was executed at a jail in Pune.
On December 13, 2001, five heavily-armed terrorists drove into the Parliament complex and opened fire. Nine people were killed, most of them members of the security forces. All the terrorists were shot dead.
Both Houses of Parliament had just been adjourned and many MPs and ministers, including then Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani were still inside. Afzal Guru was arrested early the next day and accused of planning the attack.