New Delhi: Putting a confirmation stamp on the execution of Afzal Guru at 8 am on Saturday morning, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected the mercy plea of the Parliament attack convict on February 03.
"Afzal Guru`s case was again sent to me by President when I took over as Home Minister. I examined it in detail and I recommended it to President on January 21 and the file came back to me from President on February 03," Shinde told reporters here.
Shinde told reporters that he signed the file on Afzal Guru`s hanging on February 04 and instructed authorities for further action.
"It was sent for further execution by me on February 04 and the judiciary confirmed the date on February 08 and the time was also confirmed," he said.
Afzal Guru was convicted for his role in the attack on Parliament in 2001. He was hanged in Tihar jail 8 am on Saturday.
Sushilkumar Shinde`s nearly six months in office as the Union Home Minister have seen hangings of two major terror convicts - Ajmal Amir Kasab and Afzal Guru - depicting a sense of determination of the UPA government to deal with terrorism cases and signalling his firmness on the issue, say officials and analysts.
The two hangings, carried out with procedural secrecy, came about within a gap of merely two-and-half months.
Official sources said Shinde is keen to give an impression of decisiveness in his ministry.
"The decision on Afzal Guru would have come earlier but the minister was busy in dealing with the fallout of the gang-rape case in Delhi that led to a nationwide outrage," an official told a news agency.
Shinde, in his zest for quick decisions, had also announced a date for a decision on the contentious issue of creating separate state of Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh. However, he could not stick to the timeline of one month announced in December.
The decisions on hanging of the two major convicts have come in the first year of Pranab Mukherjee`s presidency. Both Mukherjee and Shinde assumed their new roles within a week of each other. While Mukherjee was sworn-in president on July 25, Shinde assumed office on August 01 last year.
The two hangings have also come about ahead of Parliament sessions.
Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving Pakistani gunman involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was hanged on November 21, a day before the Winter Session opened.
Hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted for attack on Parliament House in 2001, came nearly 10 days before the start of the Budget Session on February 21.
The hanging of two terror convicts is likely to help the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government counter Bharatiya Janata Party`s aggressive pitch on the issue of national security.
However, it is unlikely to get Shinde off the main opposition party`s radar for his comments on "saffron terrorism" and "Hindu terrorism" made at the Congress Chintan Shivir last month.
(With IANS inputs)