Friday, December 13, will mark 18 years since the deadly attack on Parliament by terrorist groups linked to Pakistan.
On the morning of December 13, 2001 five terrorists entered Parliament House Complex around 11:40 am in an Ambassador car fitted with a red light and a forged Home Ministry sticker on the car’s windshield. As the car moved towards Building Gate No. 12, one of the members of the Parliament House Watch and Ward Staff became suspicious.
When the car was forced to turn back, it hit then Vice President Krishan Kant’s vehicle, after which the terrorists got down and opened fire. By this time, an alarm was raised and all the building gates were closed. In the ensuing firing that lasted for over 30 minutes, all five terrorists were killed, along with eight security personnel and a gardener. At least 15 people were injured. The 100 or so ministers and MPs in Parliament at the time were unhurt.
Who were responsible?
L K Advani, then Home Minister, said in Lok Sabha, “It is now evident that the terrorist assault on the Parliament House was executed jointly by Pakistan-based and supported terrorist outfits, namely, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.”
He added, “These two organisations are known to derive their support and patronage from Pak ISI. The investigation so far carried out by the police shows that all the five terrorists who formed the suicide squad were Pakistani nationals. All of them were killed on the spot and their Indian associates have since been nabbed and arrested.”
He added: “Last week’s attack on Parliament is undoubtedly the most audacious, and also the most alarming, act of terrorism in the nearly two-decades-long history of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India.”
What happened to those arrested?
The police filed an FIR on December 13, recording an armed attack by terrorists. Within days, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police arrested four individuals who were tracked down with the help of leads relating to the car used and cellphone records. These were: Mohammad Afzal Guru, a former Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) militant who had surrendered in 1994, his cousin Shaukat Husain Guru, Shaukat’s wife Afsan Guru, and S A R Geelani, a lecturer of Arabic at Delhi University.
In December 29, Afzal Guru was kept in police remand while the trial court acquitted Afsan and sentenced Geelani, Shaukat and Afzal to death. Afzal Guru’s execution took place 11 years later.
In 2003, Geelani was acquitted. In 2005, the Supreme Court upheld Afzal’s death sentence, but commuted Shaukat’s sentence to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. On September 26, 2006, the court ordered that Afzal Guru be hanged.
In October the same year, Afzal Guru’s wife Tabassum Guru filed a mercy petition that was dismissed by the Supreme Court the following year. On February 3, his mercy petition was rejected by then President Pranab Mukherjee and Afzal Guru was hanged six days later, on February 9, 2013. The government decided not to hand over his remains to his family, as a result of which his remains were buried in Tihar jail.