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India leaders welcome Kasab’s execution

Authorities tried to contact Kasab’s family before burying him on prison grounds

Image Credit: EPA
The Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the sites of the November 26, 2008 terrorist attacks, in Mumbai.
Gulf News

New Delhi: The execution of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack convict Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab in the early hours of Wednesday by the Maharashtra government has been welcomed by leaders across political parties and survivors of the carnage.

On Wednesday morning, at 7.30am IST (Indian Standard Times), Kasab was hanged in the jail premises after which a team of doctors declared him dead.

However, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said soon after that despite many attempts made by the Indian government to get in touch with Pakistan over the execution of Kasab, India did not get any positive response.

“We attempted to convey to Pakistan about the decision taken on Kasab. We tried to inform Pakistan Foreign Ministry through fax on the decision taken but it was not recognised,” the Union Minister said.

Khurshid insisted that the hanging of Kasab was according to Indian laws.

“All legal options for an accused were made available to Kasab. All are equal before the law. It was well-established that Kasab was a Pakistan national and the Indian government did whatever it could under the rule of law,” he said.

Khurshid also expressed hope that the way India allowed rule of law to prevail in the country, Pakistan would do the same. He, however, added that he did not know what position Pakistan would take on the issue.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected Kasab’s mercy plea on November 5.

“I signed it on the sixth and the Maharashtra government signed it on the eighth. The same day, we decided that he will be hanged on the 21st. We would have considered Pakistan’s request for the body, however, we have not yet received a request. Indian mission in Islamabad informed Pakistan government about Kasab’s hanging through letter. Pakistan refused to take the letter, which was then sent through fax,” he said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan emphasised that the Indian government tried to reach the family members of Kasab and that his body was buried in the Yerwada jail premises.

On the decision of the date of hanging, he said: “The date of hanging was decided by the judge. According to the rule book, we tried to reach to the family members of Kasab in Pakistan before execution.”

“With this, it has been proved that India’s rule of law prevails. If someone breaks the law of land, he will be punished, even if it takes time and expenses. Any attack on the country will not be tolerated,” Chavan added.

Reacting to the execution, Lalu Prasad Yadav, President of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), said that “Kasab’s crime was established in the court of law and justice was accordingly served. Bad deeds will lead to a bad outcome.”

National Security Guard Chief JK Dutt said that “on hearing the news of Kasab’s hanging, I felt all the ten terrorists who were involved in the incident were accounted for. But there is still some distance to be covered because there are other conspirators behind this incident sitting elsewhere and they need to be brought to account. We must remember those who lost their near and dear ones during the 26/11 attacks, the incident will remain with them.

In Mumbai, Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who appeared for the police in the case, said that “homage has been paid to all those who lost their lives in the 26/11 attack by the hanging of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab. It is victory for the country. By hanging Kasab, We have paid homage to all those policemen and innocent persons who lost their lives.”

Kasab was given the death penalty by a sessions court in May 2010, which was upheld by the Bombay High Court last year and the Supreme Court thereafter.

“By Kasab’s conviction and death penalty, we have proved how the entire conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan. We have set an example that India will not tolerate such attacks and the accused will be brought to justice,” Nikam said.

Nikam appeared for the prosecution in the sessions court and High Court and assisted senior counsel Gopal Subramanium in the apex court.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh commented on Twitter that “finally Kasab hanged. The Government of India should pursue the case of the handlers in Pakistan. Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s case should also be expedited now.”

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed the hanging of Kasab but emphasised that his handlers across the border in Pakistan should also be brought to justice.

“Better late than never. Kasab’s hanging will act as a balm on the wounds of the people of Mumbai but their wounds are still fresh. They will get relief only when Kasab’s handler’s across the border are brought to justice,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told Gulf News.

BJP welcomed President Pranab Mukherjee’s prompt refusal of Kasab’s mercy petition.

BJP Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Kasab’s hanging will serve as a warning and a lesson to his bosses across the border.

“The country expects our government to send such strong message and give such punishment to those who have bloodied their hands with the death of hundreds of innocent people. This hanging sends a strong message to India’s enemies,” Naqvi said.

However, anti corruption activist Anna Hazare said that the state government took too long to hang Kasab.

“He should have been hanged in public [chauraha]. A public hanging of Kasab would have been a lesson for anybody who causes loss of life in our country,” Hazare said.

Similarly, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said the 26/11 attack was not just against Mumbai, it was against the country.

“Many of our citizens were killed, including our brave officers. Nine terrorists were killed but one was caught alive. The special 26/11 court awarded the death penalty to Kasab, High Court and Supreme Court upheld it. He filed a mercy petition, but was rejected and he was hanged at 7.30am this morning. This is a tribute to people and police officers who lost their lives during the attack,” he stated.

Smita Salaskar, wife of police officer Vijay Salaskar who was killed during the attacks, said that “with this hanging, homage has been paid to my husband. But the real homage will be the conviction of other accused shielded in Pakistan. The late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had also demanded Kasab’s hanging. His wish and our wish have been finally fulfilled. The entire family is happy to hear the news that Kasab was hanged, ahead of the fourth anniversary of the attack. I hope the death sentence of Parliament House attack convict Afzal Guru would also be executed soon.”

Expressing relief, K Unnikrishnan, father of National Security Guard commando Major Sandeep who died during the 26/11 terror attacks, said that Kasab should have been hanged by the lamp post.

“But today I say it is done. This is one step. Surely, this is not a closure for us. The investigation must continue and the other culprits should be booked by Pakistan more than by India,” Unnikrishnan said.

Eknath Omble, brother of police officer Tukaram Omble who died while trying to capture Kasab, said that he was proud and happy that his brother’s efforts had finally paid off.

“We are very happy and satisfied. Ajmal Kasab should have been hanged in public, but I know our law does not permit this. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has stood by his promise that he would take decisions that would satisfy Indians,” Omble said.

Mukesh Agrawal, who survived when the Taj Hotel in Mumbai was attacked during the 2008 carnage, said that Kasab should have been hanged four years ago.

“But today what has happened is very good. It is a very good gift to the victims’ families. The government has given a new year gift,” he said.

Vishnu Zende, an announcer at the Chhtrapati Shivaji Terminus, the railway station which was one of the targets of the attack, said: “I had never thought that I would get to hear this news like this.”

“I am very happy that he has been hanged. All the people who died in the terror attack have been given tribute by hanging him,” said Zende, who had helped save many lives by making announcements over the public address system in the station about the strike.

Kasab and nine other Pakistani terrorists had landed in south Mumbai on November 26, 2008, after travelling from Karachi by sea and had gone on a shooting spree at various landmarks, killing 166 people, including foreigners. While Kasab was captured alive, the other terrorists had been killed by security forces.