Tihar officials refuse RTI query on Afzal Guru

By Mohit Dubey, IANS,

Lucknow: Can disclosure of certain details on parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, hanged at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail “affect relations with a foreign state”? The prison department certainly thinks so.

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It would “pre-judicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence,” the Tihar Jail said in a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query by Urvashi Sharma of Lucknow.

The prison headquarters (office of the director general of prisons) has cited various clauses which could jeopardise the relations of India with foreign countries if details like the copy of the ‘black warrant’ of Afzal Guru, copies of communication sent by ministry of home affairs after taking a decision on the mercy petition, and the total expenses, item wise on keeping Afzal in jail.

Sharma had also sought copies of documents or letters generated, sent and received by the prison department during the process of deciding the place of burial.

Sharma had also asked for the names of the executioner (s), list of people present during the burial of Guru’s dead body and any photographs that “could be fraught with security concerns”.

But, she was taken aback by the curt response of the prison department stonewalling “innocent queries” like expenses incurred on his stay in Tihar Jail.

“This is completely unacceptable. Why can they not part with communications leading to the rejection of his mercy petition and subsequent hanging,” Sharma asked while speaking to IANS.

She claimed had the prison department responded positively, several “conspiracy theories and human rights queries would have been satiated”.

“There has been several protests regarding the secretive circumstances Afzal Guru was hanged in and the quiet burial…(the) prison department of Tihar Jail and the union government must come clean on this matter,” the RTI activist said, adding she was exploring options to file a review petition.

Afzal Guru, a resident of Sopore in Jammu and Kashmir was convicted for plotting the terror attack on parliament on Dec 13, 2001 and was hanged Feb 9 at Tihar Jail after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his mercy petition.