Gallows for Kasab

Judge had no option but to order execution by hanging

Gallows for Kasab

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam gestures while interacting with the media after a special court pronounced death sentence to Ajmal Kasab in 26/11 terror attacks, in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI

A special court condemned the 22-year-old who, along with nine other Pakistan-trained terrorists, was responsible for the death of 166 people in November 2008, to death on four counts of murder, waging war against the state, conspiracy and terrorism after a year-long trial.

Reading out the chilling sentence, three days after Kasab was convicted, Judge M L Tahaliyani said: “He should be hanged by the neck until he is dead”.

Kasab’s crimes were considered so heinous and reprehensible that the judge said the court has “no option except going with the death penalty.”

Judge Tahaliyani did “not find any case for a lesser punishment than death”. Dressed in a white kurta, Kasab mostly sat through in the dock in silence as the judge read out the sentence.

His head in hand, Kasab looked distraught and resigned, keeping his head lowered but said nothing after the sentence was read out. When asked if he had anything to say before the sentence was read out, Kasab shook his head and lowered his hand downward.

Planning

The judge said the evidence showed “previous, meticulous and systematic planning” of the atrocity. “Brutality was writ large,” he added, and the offences were “of exceptional depravity.” Grinning broadly in a sign of evident satisfaction, Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam announced the sentence for the benefit of television crews outside the court.

While the death penalty has been pronounced, it has to be confirmed by the Bombay High Court, and then the matter can go to the Supreme Court.  In the end, Kasab might move for clemency, and many feared that it will take several years before he is actually dragged to the gallows. “It is closure to justice, but Kasab must be hanged immediately.

The matter should not be dragged like Afzal Guru (the death convict in Parliament attack case, whose mercy petition is still pending with the President of India),” said Kavita Karkare, widow of the slain Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare. Judge Tahaliyani was conscious of this fact and stated while pronouncing the sentence that keeping a terrorist like Kasab alive “will be a lingering danger to the society and the Indian government.”

He had the 1999 Kandahar hijack of an Indian Airlines plane, after which five dreaded Pakistani ultras were swapped for the release of passengers, in mind. “If Kasab is kept alive, this situation may occur again,” the judge warned. “In the court’s opinion, Kasab has no chance to reform,” the judge said, reading out his verdict for over an hour and 15 minutes in a jam-packed courtroom, as Kasab showed no emotion, no remorse.

Branded a “killing machine” and “cruelty incarnate” by the prosecution, Kasab was the only terrorist caught alive in the 60-hour assault by 10 jihadists on hotels, a railway station, a restaurant and Jewish centre.
 

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