The tragedy of Afzal Guru | Pakistan Today

The tragedy of Afzal Guru

  • A cynical sacrifice for a false-flag operation

 Seven years ago, Muhammad Afzal Guru was executed in secrecy, without being allowed to meet his loved ones and buried quietly in Delhi’s Tihar jail, on 9 February 2013. He had been accused of aiding and abetting the attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13.

Afzal Guru was born in Sopore in the Baramulla district of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in 1969. As a medical student at Jhelum Valley Medical College, Srinagar, Guru was motivated by a friend to join the Kashmir liberation jihad. He later surrendered to security forces and after graduation, took up a job with a pharmaceutical firm in New Delhi and became its area manager.

On 13 December 2001, a deadly attack took place on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi. 14 people were killed and at least 22 were injured. Afzal Guru was blamed for the attack and with investigators quoting leads relating to the car used and cellphone records, he was arrested from Srinagar, his cousin Shaukat Husain Guru, Shaukat’s wife Afsan Guru and S A R Gilani, a lecturer of Arabic at Delhi University, were also arrested.

The two most incriminating pieces of evidence presented against Guru were a cellular phone and a laptop confiscated at the time of arrest. They were not sealed, as evidence is required to be, but were accepted as proof of his guilt. During the trial it emerged that the hard disk of the laptop had been accessed after the arrest. It only contained the fake home ministry passes and the fake identity cards that the ‘terrorists’ used to enter the Parliament— and a Zee TV video clip of parliament house. According to the police, Guru had deleted all the information except the most incriminating bits. The police witness said he sold the crucial SIM card that connected all the accused in the case to one another to Guru on 4 December 2001. But the prosecution’s own call records showed the SIM was actually operational from 6 November 2001.

In the ensuing aftermath, India blamed Pakistan for sponsoring the attack and amassed its troops on the Pakistani border. Swift deployment of a counter-offensive by ground, sea and air forces by Pakistan deterred the bellicose Indians from attacking. The two forces remained in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation for 10 months. Even a tiny spark could have pushed the two nuclear-armed nations into mutually assured destruction. India blinked first since the mobilization was costing it more than it had anticipated and decided to withdraw.

The more one studies it, the more the attack on the Indian Parliament seems like an Indian false-flag operation to justify punitive action against Pakistan. Following the 9/11 attacks, India was certain that Pakistan would also be targeted by the USA and NATO for supporting terrorism. Pakistan thwarted the move by allying itself to the USA. Believing that the USA was preoccupied with its military operations in Afghanistan, India thought it could get away with a swift assault on Pakistan, so it conjured up an excuse to do so. It was Pakistan’s swift military maneuvering and positioning of its forces that foiled the Indian plot. Afzal Guru was a prisoner of conscience. After having surrendered to security forces in 1993, he was constantly being harassed by security agencies and tortured every time an attack took place. Amnesty International questioned his sentence, stating that he did not receive adequate legal representation and that his execution was carried out in secrecy. This was indeed a human tragedy

Indian Journalist Vinod K. Jose claimed that in an interview in 2006, Guru had confided that he had been subjected to extreme torture which included electric shocks in his private parts and being beaten up for hours, along with threats regarding his family after his arrest. In the interview, Guru confirmed that he was tasked by DSP Davinder Singh to take ‘someone’ to Delhi. Afzal was to find a rented house for him in Delhi. This ‘someone’ was identified as one of the five gunmen who attacked Parliament. During the stay, the would-be assailant was in constant touch with DSP Davinder Singh. Afzal Guru’s role ended here yet he was named as the mastermind of the deadly assault.

The quartet was tried under charges of waging war, conspiracy, murder, attempt to murder etc. with the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 being added to the original charges.

On 18 December 2002, relying on the circumstantial evidence, the special court awarded capital punishment to Guru, Shaukat and Geelani. Shaukat’s wife Afsan was found guilty of concealing the plot and sentenced to five years in jail. The prison took steps to execute Guru in secrecy. The execution was carried out without the family’s knowledge or any form of public announcement. Guru’s body was buried on prison grounds to prevent a public funeral.

Renowned human rights activist Arundhati Roy, in her opinion piece on the subject titled ‘The hanging of Afzal Guru is a stain on India’s democracy’ published in The Guardian on 10 February 2013, two days after Afzal Guru was furtively sent to the gallows, writes that the Indian Supreme Court judgment acknowledged the evidence was circumstantial: ‘As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy.’ But then, shockingly, it went on to say: ‘The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.’

The more one studies it, the more the attack on the Indian Parliament seems like an Indian false-flag operation to justify punitive action against Pakistan. Following the 9/11 attacks, India was certain that Pakistan would also be targeted by the USA and NATO for supporting terrorism. Pakistan thwarted the move by allying itself to the USA. Believing that the USA was preoccupied with its military operations in Afghanistan, India thought it could get away with a swift assault on Pakistan, so it conjured up an excuse to do so. It was Pakistan’s swift military maneuvering and positioning of its forces that foiled the Indian plot.

Afzal Guru was a prisoner of conscience. After having surrendered to security forces in 1993, he was constantly being harassed by security agencies and tortured every time an attack took place.

Amnesty International questioned his sentence, stating that he did not receive adequate legal representation and that his execution was carried out in secrecy. This was indeed a human tragedy.

Sultan M Hali

The author is a retired Group Captain and author of the book Defence & Diplomacy. Currently he is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host.



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