Still grappling with the trauma of his sudden execution, the family of Afzal Guru is planning to move Supreme Court so that no other family is denied the right to meet their loved one before being hanged. “We cannot bring back Afzal who met such a cruel fate. The authorities were insensitive and did not allow him to meet his family one last time. But perhaps we can ensure that no other family undergoes the same trauma,” says Aijaz Guru, elder brother of Parliament attack convict Afzal, who was hanged and buried in Tihar jail Delhi on February nine.
Afzal’s wife, son and others in the family got to know of his execution after the news became public. A letter from Delhi’s Tihar jail authorities inform them that he was being hanged reached them some 51 hours after the hanging, generating a wave of anger in the Kashmir valley.
The family has taken note of the comments of Chief Justice of India Justice Altamas Kabir who said last week that families of death row convicts should be informed in advance about their execution. “…the principle has always been that the family members were told when things will happen,” he had said.
At the height of controversy over the way Afzal was executed, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had reportedly summoned Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and expressed his displeasure over the delay in informing Afzal Guru’s family about his hanging.
Afzal’s family now want the apex court to take suo motu cognizance of the matter and lay down the rule that the families of those who are to be hanged are informed in advance and allowed to meet the person before execution. If that does not happen, Guru’s family will move the Supreme Court with that objective, Aijaz is reported to have said.
More than two months after the hanging of Afzal, the execution still haunts the family which is trying hard to pick up threads of life with Afzal’s wife Tabassum resuming work at a local hospital while Aijaz and his younger brother Hilal were still receiving condolences.
“We never imagined that such information will be shared with us through television,” they said.