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Kasab hanging, the best-kept secret

Mumbai, Nov 21, 2012 , DHNS 0:52 IST

Behind the curtain: The hangman was also not aware of who his client was

Ajmal Kasab File photo
It was a covert operation sans a code name. The subject was known, the script quietly authored by top decision makers of the UPA government and a few in the Maharashtra government were roped in to choose the exact time for the secret hanging, which took the nation by surprise.

Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab’s hanging at Yerwada jail in Pune on Wednesday was a master stroke by Union Home Ministry alongwith the Maharashtra government, implemented with finesse, with not even the hangman knowing who his client was.
Though there is not much in common between the US killing Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad of Pakistan and Kasab’s hanging, the two governments of Manmohan Singh and Barak Obama managed to keep the executions as state secrets till the last mile.

The stakes were high and the government was banking on mutual trust among the stakeholders which is often invoked by mandarins of Delhi’s North and South Blocks when it comes to nation’s security, government sources said, pointing to time-tested conventional style of delivery mechanism.

Interestingly, even Pakistan, which refused to take Kasab's body, heeded New Delhi’s request to keep mum on the execution on November 21, said government sources. The plot to execute Kasab began after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the Pakistani terrorist’s mercy petition and returned the file to union home ministry for his execution on November 5. Kasab’s file was only referred to as “C-7096” to camouflage its movement through various hands in departments.

Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, on returning from Rome where he had gone to attend an Interpol meet, saw and signed Kasab’s file on November 7. The next day, the file was dispatched to the Maharashtra government.

Activists hoodwinked

During the interim 13 days, top brains of the government sat down to form a strategy to ensure that the sensitive hanging goes as per the script. It is learnt that apart from the home minister, national security advisor, home secretary, foreign secretary and intelligence chiefs of IB and RAW were aware of the plan to shift Kasab from a prison in Mumbai to Pune.

Besides them, the Maharashtra Chief Minister, home minister and a few officials, including the DGP and a senior IG-level officer, who was instructed to shift Kasab to Pune jail, were privy to the top secret. “None of my Cabinet colleagues knew. The PM and others got to know from television this morning,” Shinde confirmed. “UPA president (Sonia Gandhi) was not party to the decision. This is the department’s work, my routine work. It is my nature to keep works secret, I have a police background,” Shinde said.

Justifying the need to keep it under wraps, the minister said it was done to avoid petitions being filed in courts by rights activists. Enquires revealed that even the two ministers of state for home and senior officers dealing with internal security were not aware that the date had been fixed by the court to hang Kasab on November 21.

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