Afzal Guru
Tracking of Afzal Guru's official letter to his family

Two days after 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was hanged in Tihar Jail, his wife Tabassum received an official letter on Monday stating his impending execution.

The purported communication from the jail authorities to Guru's family regarding the execution has raised several questions.

The official intimation dated 6 February was sent by the Office of the Superintendent Central Jail No 3 and stated that Guru's mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee and his execution fixed for 9 February at 8 am. [Read the letter here]

Taking note of the time of its dispatch via India Post, the letter was booked on 8 February at around 12:07 am from New Delhi GPO, after about 36 hours it was written. Data showed that it was dispatched from BNPL SPC New Delhi to Palam TMO at around 5:51 am on Friday, 8 February.

The consignment bag was received at Palam TMO at around 7:39 am on Friday and dispatched to Srinagar at around 10:29 am on the same day.

John Samuel, the chief postmaster general in Srinagar, said they received the letter via speed post on Saturday evening, and since Sunday was a public holiday the letter was delivered to the convict's family on Monday.

"We received the speed post by air Saturday evening. It was addressed to Tabassum Guru (his wife). Sunday being a public holiday, the speed post has been delivered today," John Samuel, chief postmaster general (Jammu and Kashmir), told journalists, according to IANS.

However, Samuel's statement contradicted with the India Post's tracking logs. The logs showed that the letter reached Srinagar on 10 February, Sunday at around 1:03 pm. From Srinagar the item was bagged for Guru's hometown of Sopore in Kashmir on the same day at around 4:52 pm.

Tabassum received the letter on Monday at around 11 am, two days after the hanging.

Earlier, the family said that they had not received any communication from jail authorities and only heard of his execution from news reports.

Even Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minsiter Omar Abdullah questioned the authorities for using speed post to deliver the news.

"As a human being, I find it very difficult to reconcile myself to the fact that we executed a person who was not given the opportunity to see his family for the last time. If in this day and age, we are relying on speed post to inform a family that their loved one is going to be executed, there is something seriously wrong. I wish we were the ones who were authorised to inform the family," he told a TV channel.

On the other hand, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde defended the government's move to maintain secrecy up until Guru's execution, saying it would not have happened had the decision of his hanging been made public in advance.

"Secrecy has to be maintained. If something is known, then things don't happen," Shinde said, citing the previous example, set by him of 26/11 Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab, who too was hanged secretly in a Pune jail last year.