New Delhi: Stressing that he wanted a quick end to his ordeal, Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru had in 2008 doubted if the UPA government could ever reach a decision on his case. In what was perhaps his last interview, the death row convict had told IANS that life had become hell and he did not wish to be "part of the living dead".
"Life has become hell in the jail. I requested the government to take an immediate decision over my sentence just two months ago. I don't wish to be part of the living dead," Afzal Guru had said in the rare interview to IANS in Tihar Jail's prison no. 3.
His moods swinging from being stoic and defiant, he had said: "I have also requested that till the time they (government) take a decision, they shift me to a Kashmir jail." That never happened. And the Sopore resident, convicted for his central role in plotting the audacious attack on parliament on Dec 13, 2001, in which nine people were killed, was hanged outside his Tihar Jail cell Saturday morning, more than four years after that June 2008 interview.
Then, as now, the country was getting into election mode.
About a year before the April-May 2009 election, during the United Progressive Alliance government's first tenure in office, Afzal said Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani would act swiftly in deciding his plight one way or the other while the present government dithered over his death sentence.
"I don't think the (UPA) government can ever reach a decision. The Congress party has two mouths and is playing a double game. I really wish LK Advani becomes India's next prime minister as he is the only one who can take a decision and hang me. At least my pain and daily suffering would ease then," said Afzal, who had been in solitary confinement in the capital's high-security Tihar Jail.
IANS managed to secure access to Afzal Guru in the prison without the jail authorities realizing that they had let in a journalist. In the interview, Afzal's first and perhaps last since he was convicted by the Supreme Court in 2004 that was subsequently upheld a year later, he said the death sentence had made him delusional.
Cumbersome legal procedures and prolonged periods of solitary confinement, he said, were inhuman and cruel. Dressed in a spotless white kurta-pyjama and a sports cap to hide his shaven head, Afzal, who was then in his mid-30s, said he sympathised with Sarabjit Singh, an Indian lodged in a Pakistan prison for nearly two decades, but said no parallel could be drawn between them.
"Please don't compare me with Sarabjit. The issues are separate. My sympathies are with him, but my fight is for the Kashmir conflict. Now, I am not even seeking any clemency and have no objection to the government deciding my fate.
"I long for my eight-year-old son, Ghalib. In jail, it is not possible to meet them easily as intelligence officials unnecessarily harass my family and wife, Tabassum, when they come here," he remarked.
At the time, he was reading a book called "India Wins Freedom" by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad that details events of the country's independence movement.