With the execution and burial of Afzal Guru inside Tihar Jail complex at New Delhi on February 9, 2013, the curtain has finally come down on the charade of attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001.

Hanged 12 years after that fateful episode, Guru emerged as the ultimate ‘fall guy’, who had to give his life to justify Indian claims: the attack on the Indian Parliament was an act of war, which merited the launching of the largest ever mobilisation of armed forces against Pakistan and exposing the region to the spectre of a nuclear holocaust.

Ironically, when the five attackers, who have remained unidentified all along, started shooting, Guru, a Kashmiri, was not even anywhere close to the place of the incident. Despite that strange twist of chance, fate and circumstances led him into the web of intrigue crudely planned by the Indian agencies, which remained unquestioned and unchallenged by various tiers of India’s judicial setup.

Unravelling such attacks is a time-consuming and painstaking process, but within a day of the attack the Indian security establishment had unearthed a conspiracy in which Guru, his cousin Shaukat Hussain Guru, who was a fruit vendor, Shaukat’s wife Afsan Guru and S. A. R. Geelani, a Professor of Arabic in a New Delhi college, were charged with conspiracy and of assisting the five attackers, who stormed Parliament. When the case began its journey through the Indian judicial system, odds were heavily loaded against the accused.

At the first tier, the special court headed by Justice N. Dhingra, known through the sobriquet of the ‘hanging judge’ for his rubber stamp judicial executions, sentenced the three men to death while Afsan was given five years’ rigorous imprisonment. On appeal, the High Court found no incriminating evidence against Geelani and Afsan and acquitted them, retaining death punishment for the two remaining accused.

Guru and Shaukat appealed against the verdict in the Supreme Court, which announced its decision on August 4, 2005; upholding the death sentence for Guru, while lifting the award on Shaukat giving him 10 years in prison. At the end of the day, Guru remained the lone figure carrying the heavy mantle of responsibility for conspiring to attack the Indian Parliament.

A scrutiny of Guru’s life provides a heartrending picture of a vulnerable militant, who had abjured militancy and started the life of an ordinary peace-loving person, struggling to escape the clutches of Indian intelligence agencies while trying to build up a reasonable enough future for his traumatised family, comprising a wife and a young son. His surrender made him amply available for exploitation in whatever manner that suited the whims of the dreaded Special Task Force’ (STF); a shadowy counterinsurgency outfit associated with the worst kind of human rights abuses in the Indian-held Kashmir (IHK).

According to the established practice, he was under constant surveillance, suspicion, harassment, extortion and even torture by the security forces - a routine that was movingly reflected by his wife Tabassum in a letter to the Kashmir Times dated October 21, 2004. If Guru was, and it was established he was, under constant surveillance by the STF, then how come he was able to hatch such a complex attack plan that allegedly involved across-the-border terrorist organisations and the ISI?

Also, how could Jaish-i-Mohammad, claimed by the Indian intelligence to be behind the attack, rely upon such a person, so deeply associated with the STF, as the principal link for their operation?

It is intriguing that the judicial process failed to take cognisance of his established association with the STF as a factor, in ascertaining the truth about his involvement in the episode.

Guru’s hanging seems to have been predetermined. His trial was tailored to produce a victim or how else could the Indian deployment for Operation Parakram be justified. This aspect is made manifest by persistent failure of the Indian state to provide him with credible and effective legal assistance to ensure a fair trial.

The state-appointed lawyers only compounded his case by adopting a couldn’t-care-less approach, while the courts failed to put right, or take notice of, the damage caused to his defence by unchallenged admission of doctored evidence that tightened the noose around his neck.

According to Tabassum: “The court appointed a lawyer, who never took instructions from Guru or cross-examined the prosecution witnesses. That lawyer was communal and showed his hatred for my husband. When my husband told the judge that he did not want that lawyer, the judge ignored him.” As the case progressed through higher courts, the practice continued, even degenerated to become more damaging.

It is pertinent to recollect that evidence to hang Guru was presented before the courts by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, notorious for false arrests and fake encounters. The very fact that at least three innocent co-accused persons; Geelani, Shaukat and Afsan, were framed casts shadows on the integrity of evidence used to indict Guru in the same case.

The High Court judgment even mentioned the telltale lapses - the false arrest memos, doctored telephone conversations and illegal confinement of people to force them to sign blank papers by the infamous investigating agency - to fabricate evidence in the high-profile case. Under these circumstances, how can it be assumed that the evidence leading to Guru’s conviction was not wilfully doctored?

The motivation was obvious.

The failure to find the smoking gun would only have been at the cost of acute embarrassment, loss of credibility and face by India at home and abroad. Or how else would have New Delhi justified its 10-month long deployment and sabre-rattling against Pakistan, which cost the Indian exchequer Rs1,000 crore and 800 casualties, as the cost of mobilisation process.

Guru’s hanging has enabled India to formally close the case of the attack on Indian Parliament, yet many questions remain unanswered. Who masterminded it? Who were the attackers? What was their conspiracy? If Pakistan’s role in the attack has been ruled out through judicial findings, then who was behind it? Was it an attack orchestrated by the Indian agencies? What role was played by the shadowy Special Task Force (STF) in the episode? Why did the infamous Special Cell of Delhi Police, known for its fake encounters, choose to subvert the evidence as observed by the Indian High Court? Why and how the Indian political leadership choose the incident to set the two countries rolling onto a course of inevitable collision in those fateful winters of 2001 that was averted by narrowest of the margins?

When, how and who will answers these nagging questions, indeed, remains an enduring enigma.

The writer is a freelance columnist.