Opinion | Columnists

The man Indians loathed: Mohammad Ajmal Kasab

Aghast at the millions spent on his security, India’s restless middle class demanded a swift execution and used his image to lampoon the ruling elite

  • By Bobby Naqvi, Editor, XPRESS
  • Published: 00:00 November 24, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: © Gulf News

When celebrated English architect Frederick William Stevens built Mumbai’s (then Bombay) Victoria Terminus to mark the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887, he would not have imagined that India’s busiest railway station would become the site of one of the country’s bloodiest terrorist attacks, 121 years later. One of the perpetrators of the crime was a baby-faced 21-year-old youth from Faridkot, a Pakistani village named after Sufi saint Baba Farid.

Mohammad Ajmal Kasab and nine other youngsters entered India as cold-blooded marauding terrorists and committed what is now known as “India’s 9/11”. The terrorists paired in twos and carried out 11 attacks across Mumbai, killing 166 and injuring more than 300. Kasab, the only terrorist to be captured alive, was born in a poor family in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Son of a samosa-seller, Kasab was a typical village lad who studied till grade five and spent years fooling around before running away to Lahore at the age of 14. Years later, when he briefly returned to Faridkot just before the Mumbai attacks, it became clear to villagers that he had drifted into the world of crime.

Detachment with his family — father Amir Shahban Kasab, mother Nooree, sister Suraiyya and brother Munir — a poverty-stricken childhood and lack of education drove him into the arms of extremists.

When he entered India in an inflatable dinghy, Kasab, then 21, was a perfect terrorist with an automatic assault rifle in his hand, hand-grenades in the rucksack, raging hormones in his body and an ideology in his head that he was not clear about.

On that fateful night, Kasab and one of his partners in crime, Esmail Khan, trawled the gothic station after 9pm, killing 58 people, including eight policemen. Inside the main passenger hall, Kasab’s targets were plenty and random. He fired with devastating efficiency.

Horrified Indians first saw his face when news photographer Sebastian D’souza captured him toting an AK-47, sporting blue T-shirt and cargo pants. He became the face of the Mumbai terror attack and this picture was a key piece of evidence during his trial. Outside the railway station, Kasab wiped out the top layer of Mumbai crime branch and escaped in a police car. He met his nemesis when unarmed police inspector Tukaram Ombale caught up with him and held his gun. Kasab killed Ombale before he was caught by other cops near a beach adjoining Marine Drive.

Lodged in a bullet-proof cell with a connecting bomb-proof tunnel leading to a special court inside Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, Kasab was known only by a number: C-7096. During his year-long trial, Kasab appeared dejected, indifferent and on occasions smiled at his lawyers and journalists. He was found guilty of all the 86 charges, including murder of seven people, conspiracy to kill 166 and waging war against India, a verdict confirmed by the nation’s highest court.

While his life inside the prison cell was relatively uneventful and the trial went on smoothly, barring a few hiccups, outside, Kasab was becoming a household name.

To Indians, he had become the nation’s most reviled terrorist. Indians loathed the fact that Kasab was turning out to be an expensive prisoner guarded by a 250-member team of elite Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Aghast at the millions spent on his security, India’s restless middle class demanded a swift execution and used his image to lampoon the ruling elite. In a recent campaign on social networking sites, some Indians paid tributes to mosquitoes for inflicting dengue on the terrorist and mocked at the prime minister for serving him biryani.

Kasab spent his last days resigned to the fate. He knew his execution was a matter of time. On a day when Mumbai was mourning the death of Hindutva leader Balasaheb Thackeray, Kasab was transferred to Pune’s Yerwada jail in a top-secret operation dubbed Operation X.

“Allah kasam, dobara aisi galti nahi karunga!” (I swear by God, won’t do such a thing again) were his last words.

Comments (14)

  1. Added 15:47 November 24, 2012

    even i am a pakistani but what india has done its really good job, COZ HE KILLED 166 peoples this kasab cant bring them back them back so well done INDIA.

    Jassim, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:35 November 24, 2012

    @ Zin, Who knows LeT will not hijack an Indian flight and ask for his release. And should consider the expense India has to spend to keep him alive.

    Jack, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 14:32 November 24, 2012

    Keeping him was too costly and also based on previous experiences, terror organizations have a history of holding prominent people, aircrafts to ransom in order to free convicted terrorists. So for the safety of India and its citizens it was better to clear him off.

    George, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 14:08 November 24, 2012

    My prayers to the family of innocent people killed that day!

    Mysa, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 14:06 November 24, 2012

    what India did is absolutely correct..!! they should have done this long time back and should not have spent 30 crores to just keep him alive..

    Nikhil, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 13:38 November 24, 2012

    A person who kills intentionally should be killed without mercy, so that others will learn from the wicked deeds of killers. Specially like this case, travelling from country to country, with the intension to kill innocent people.

    Ghassan Al-Dakour Al-Aridi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 13:19 November 24, 2012

    Zin, I don't know which world you come from, but would like to let you know that this man did not deserve the millions being spent on him. i.e, his security and other expenses. This would have drained a lot of money from the Indian treasury. This filth should have been wiped out the day he was caught but luckily the Indians were very accomodating to tolerate him for the time they did. His last words stand testimony to the crime he carried out, a bit ironical though, as I doubt if even God will consider giving him a second chance. Good riddance to bad rubbish..

    Zin Zin, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 13:07 November 24, 2012

    Terrorism is often results of extremism fuelled by political & religious motives with vested interests. It's all praises and glory for India but the truth is that the extremists and terrorists who mastermind the operations always stay at large with the help of some nations (leadership) around the world. Their process of killing innocent people is continued whenever they wish and it's hard to believe that the agenda is their own. India has done a commendable job catching one of the terrorists, collecting evidences, completing the court procedures and by giving the verdict within the shortest time declaring that terrorism will not be tolerated at any cost (but declaring to whom?)The irony is, Kasab is just a scapegoat and he was supposed to be killed or to commit suicide in the attack, hence does it feel his hanging as a declaration against terrorism..? When the truth and the interests vested in terrorist activities are as clear as broad daylight, it requires constant determination, commitment, courage and an honest approach from all nations to unconditionally unite against such activities and bring those masterminds to trial in front of the people who wish to live and die peacefully in any nook and corner of the earth. We know the nations are capable of this but some leadership are not. Hence the definition of terrorism does not entirely restrict to the terroists groups alone. We do know whom we loathe.

    Mohamed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 12:35 November 24, 2012

    May God forgive him if he truly repented for the mistake atleast at the last minute. By saying below words - Allah kasam, dobara aisi galti nahi karunga (I swear by God, won't do such a thing again) - were his last words.

    Jacob Mathai, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 12:33 November 24, 2012

    Finally after spending fortunes on the security and upkeep of such a criminal of high order , he is hanged . At least that kinda expense is saved but he could have been given a painful death or harsh punishment to convey message. But the way India kept this Operation X so secret till the mission was successful-is really appreciable. Doesn't it bear resemblance to the way US killed Osama Bin laden - operation kept secret, timing about an year before elections ....

    Madhu Madan, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

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