Kasab pleads guilty

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab I plead guilty," the 22-year-old Pakistani national told the Special Court in the Arthur Road jail here trying him for various charges including the shooting in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station that killed over 50 people and injured 90 others on November 26 last year.

The prosecution and the police were surprised over the sudden turn of events and Special Public Prosecutor Ujwal Nikam described Kasab's decision as a "new tactics for lesser punishment".

He said the confession was a big victory for the prosecution. "The cat is out of the bag", he added.

Equally surprised was Special Judge M L Tahiliyani, who has been conducting the trial from April 17 who asked him why were you suddenly confessing.  "Why did you not confess when the charges were framed earlier"

Kasab, who did his confession in two sessions, said "initially Pakistan had not accepted my nationality. Now that they have, I am confessing".

"Now now that I have confessed, end the trial and give the verdict," he told the judge.

The confession, tracing the events from his training in Pakistan by the handlers there and his journey into Mumbai through the sea,  came on the 65th day of the trial and two days after Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency had filed a chargesheet in a Rawalpindi court naming Kasab as its national.  He had earlier pleaded not not guilty and claimed he was a minor.

It  came after a very brief consultation with his lawyer Abbas Kazmi as the prosecution's 135th witness stepped into the box for giving evidence.

The Special Judge heard Kasab owning up his involvement in the attacks in CST and the nearby Cama hospital in south Mumbai and later killing three policemen apart from planting a bomb in taxi.

Nikam said  Kasab did not not utter the name of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafeez Mohd Saeed even once during the confession today though he had earlier confessed to the magistrate all the details about Saeed.

However, Kasab named LeT operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and other professionals having trained them in Pakistan for terrorist activities.  He also claimed that the trainers were themselves not not aware for what mission they were being trained.

In a significant statement, Kasab named an Indian  Abu Jindal as involved in the terror conspiracy. This is for the first time that Kasab has confessed aboutthe role of an Indian in the terror attack.

Even in his statement before a magistrate and the police, Kasab had not revealed about Jindal or any other Indian.

He said Jindal trained him and the nine other slain terrorists on how to speak Hindi during their training course in Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) camps in Pakistan.
Commenting on this, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that Kasab is deliberately making this statement.

"He has some designs in making such a confession because earlier he had never disclosed the involvement of any Indian. I strongly suspect that he is not telling the truth," Nikam said.

The court is yet to decide on whether or not it is going to accept Kasab's confession, Nikam said.

Kasab admitted that he came in a boat from Karachi along with nine other terrorists to carry out the dastardly acts on the night of November 26 in four places including the iconic Taj and Oberoi Hotels.

In the witness box, Kasab described how he and slain terrorist Abu Ismail opened fire at the CST station.

"I was firing and Abu was hurling hand grenades. I was in front of Abu who had taken such a position that no one could see him. I fired at a policeman after which there was no firing from the police's side)," Kasab told the court.

Kasab also told the court how he and Abu exited from CST from a foot over bridge and proceeded towards the Cama hospital.

Kasab was arrested on the night of November 26 at Girgaum Chowpatty in South Mumbai in a police encounter while his partner Abu Ismail was killed.

In the 11,000-page chargesheet, the Mumbai Crime Branch cited 35 Pakistan nationals and operatives of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as wanted accused in the case.

They include Zaki-ur-Rehman Laqvi, Yousif Muzammil, Abu Kahfa, Abu Ramza and Zarar Sahh. It also includes the names of two suspected armymen- Major General Saab and Colonel R Saadat Ullah.

While confessing, Kasab described to the court how he and Abu exited the CST and proceeded towards Cama hospital.

He said that he and Abu jumped the wall of Cama hospital after which Abu asked him to wait there.

"Thode der baad Abu wapas aaya aur mujhe andar aane ko kaha...andar gate ke paas ek lash padhi thi...(After sometime Abu came back and asked me to come inside..Inside near the gate there was a dead body)," Kasab said.

Kasab  further said that inside, Abu conducted searches on three persons and snatched their mobiles and bags.

One of the witnesses, Sriwardhan, an employee of Mantralaya, was lying unconscious on the floor, Kasab said.

In his reaction, Nikam said he and the police officials were  surprised and shocked  by Kasab's abrupt turn in the "legal battle" that was launched on May 8.

He said Kasab's plea of guilt was not not recorded and once the court takes on record, then he would give the views of the prosecution and the government side.

"Kasab has accepted all the evidence given by the witnesses," he said adding it was also the pressure of the prosecution and police evidence that forced him to confess.

Nikam said Kasab was not not only a dreaded terrorist but also a super actor who understood English, Urdu and Hindi and had started understanding even Marathi during the last four months.

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