Given the service standards of the Department of Posts, Afzal Guru’s wife Tabassum, who resides in the remote Sopore district of Jammu and Kashmir, could never have got in time the fateful Speed Post letter, informing her of his execution.

India Post was given just 36 hours to deliver the communication, while the usual time it takes to deliver a Speed Post article across India is 48-72 hours.

The Department of Posts’ ‘Citizen Charter,’ a declaration of its “service commitment to excellence in service to customers,” states that the delivery of Speed Post articles across India, barring local mails (within municipal limits) and those delivered among metros, will take four to six days.

Tihar Jail authorities despatched the communication to Afzal Guru’s family on February 8, while his execution was scheduled for the morning of Saturday (February 9), giving India Post less than 36 hours — or one-and-a-half days — to get the letter delivered.

As per the Department’s standards, this was not possible.

As expected, India Post took four days to carry the letter to Ms. Tabassum. She got it on Monday morning.

On the other hand, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, talking to journalists, tried to avoid the controversy, putting the onus of sending the letter on the jail authorities. “I have information that the family has been intimated,” he said, showing a copy of the Speed Post receipt.

Mr. Shinde, however, parried questions why the government or jail authorities took the Speed Post route and not the other modern modes of communication. “The letter was sent by jail officials as per rules.”

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