Just before sleep, death news knocks

New Delhi, Feb. 9: The messenger of death reached at 10 on Friday night when Afzal Guru was preparing to go to sleep inside his 16ftx12ft high-security cell in Tihar jail.

"Main yeh bataane aaya hoon ke aap ko kal subah phaansi di jayegi (I have come to convey that you will be hanged tomorrow morning)," the senior jail official told the Parliament attack convict.

The official had gone alone to ensure secrecy.

"For a moment, it appeared Guru could not believe it but he kept his calm. He was shocked and did not utter a single word," the jail official said. "He sat silently slumped, his head in his hands. His fingers tightened around his skull and he squeezed it."

As the official left, the security guards locked the cell's gate.

Prison officials said Afzal, 43, did not sleep after that and offered namaaz several times and was seen praying with folded hands.

At 5am today, jail officials entered the cell with his death warrant to find Afzal offering the morning namaaz. They went out and waited for him to complete the prayer. After 10 minutes, they went in again and one of them read out the death warrant, informing Afzal that his clemency petition had been rejected by the President.

"He looked at us before signing the death warrant. He was shaken and nervous but maintained his composure," said a prison source.

Asked about his last wish, Afzal kept quiet for some time before enquiring whether his family had been informed.

"We replied in the positive. After that he asked for the Holy Quran which we provided from the jail library. He recited the Quran for nearly an hour and offered namaaz again. He did not wish to eat anything and had no breakfast. He had only a glass of water," the source said.

He remained calm before he was taken from his cell to the gallows, barely 30 metres away.

The government denied allegations that Afzal's family had not been informed. "They (jail authorities) intimated the family through Speed Post, registered post and the DG (director-general of Jammu and Kashmir police) has been told to check with the family whether they got it or not," home secretary R.K Singh said, without revealing when the message was sent.

Eight persons witnessed the execution, including senior jail officials, a magistrate and two doctors.

Afzal was hanged at 8am and doctors pronounced him dead after eight minutes. "As he fell, we heard his neck break. After half an hour he was buried. Guru was buried inside the prison complex in Jail No. 3," said a jail official who was present.

In Tihar, the last time anyone was hanged was in 1989 when Indira Gandhi's assassins Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh were executed by two hangmen Kallu and Fakira. Kallu, who died a few years ago, was from Uttar Pradesh and Fakira was from Punjab.

Kallu's son, who lives in Meerut, hanged Afzal. "To keep everything under wraps we brought him by road on Friday evening and he spent the night inside the jail premises and prepared the ropes for the hanging," said another official of Jail No. 3 where Afzal was lodged.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »