Saturday, March 25th, 2023 23:59:41

Why Mercy? Hang Kasab!

Updated: September 22, 2012 2:39 pm

The Supreme Court verdict that upheld the death sentence for Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor of a group of terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008 killing 166 people, was delivered last fortnight. The verdict proclaimed that there was a larger conspiracy and meticulous planning behind the mass murders. It is worth noting that Kasab had been sent to the gallows by a Mumbai trial court on May 6, 2010. The Bombay High Court had upheld Kasab’s death penalty on February 21, 2011. It is a proud moment for Indian law. The hanging of Kasab would be a message for Pakistan as it is supporting terror throughout the world. But what is so strange is the fact that the so-called secularists, who had left no stone unturned and belligerently bayed for Hindu sadhvi and sants in the so-called Hindu terror attack and have written rims of papers on the conviction of Kodnani and Bajrangi in the Naroda Patiya massacre in Gujarat in 2002, are maintaining silence on the conviction of Kasab. Even a section of the media shows double standards in the way it underscores the ruthless killings in the 26/11 terrorist’ attack, while demonising Hindu sadhvi and sants. Against this backdrop, the apex court has done well by upholding the death sentence awarded to the lone 26/11 Pakistani terrorist caught alive. His sentencing will bring satisfaction to the many people who lost their loved ones in the carnage. The nation has already spent crores of rupees to safeguard the rights of Kasab in order to meet the ends of justice. Since that purpose has now been served, India does not have the luxury of spending more crores to keep him alive. Instead, the government will do well to adequately compensate the families of the innocent victims. Indecision by the government, under one pretext or the other, with regard to the execution of Kasab, however, will only do more harm than good. It is high time Kasab was made to face the hangman’s noose. Since Afzal Guru belongs to the minority community, the Congress-led UPA has kept his mercy petition in limbo and not summarily rejected it. This is playing vote-bank politics at the cost of the security of the country. As regards the pardoning power, in Kehar Singh’s case, it was laid down that (a) the power is to be exercised by the President on the advice of the Union Government, and (b) the President can go into the merits of the case and take a different view. But will he dare differ?

This is a million-dollar question. Why do we Indians give such a long time to those who wage war on our country? It is okay that we being the largest democracy should provide adequate time to the judiciary to bring the bona fide guilty to his logical end. But is it appropriate that those who wage war on India should meet their logical end after more than three years? And still it is not sure when he will reach his final destination. There are several loopholes in our laws, because of which one can survive for not only months but for years. It is really painstaking that when other countries have done away with such lacunae by amending their constitution in order to combat terrorism, we are still not making any such endeavours. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that how the US Senate promulgated the USA Patriot Act. This Act has provided the US President with the enormous power, with which he can declare war against a person, group or country so as to weed out probable terrorist activities against the US. No wonder that the US has not faced another 9/11. But in India, those who wage war on the country are provided with political shelter—for the sake of vote-banks—LTTE cadres Murugan and Santhan, Devinder Singh Bhuller and Afjal Guru are such examples. Against this background, the Indian judiciary can be proud to have afforded a free and fair trial to the abominable terrorist, Kasab. And, the unanimous decision upholding that Kasab doesn’t deserve any mercy for being a member of terrorists who mercilessly gunned down hundreds of innocent people, will make things easier for authorities to fast track his execution, as the whole country watched this high-profile trial with curiosity, rightful anger and anguish. The apex court rightly slammed the Indian media for live coverage of the terrorist attack which provided valuable intelligence inputs for the mercenaries. There is no doubt that the live coverage of 26/11 set a low in TV journalism with the most basic of norms—objectivity, verification, dispassion—making way for a heated, overzealous and inconsiderate jumble of words and images as channels fought each other for breaking news and to catch eyeballs. Worse, there is evidence that at times the frenzied coverage risked the lives of people trapped in the two Mumbai hotels and endangered the security forces, even as the state authorities ignored the vulnerable impact of live TV coverage for the security operation. It is hoped that the media must have learned a few hard lessons itself from the incident. Lastly, the verdict proved the claims of Pakistan wrong that its citizens are not involved in the terrorist attack. Now, Pakistan should show its commitment to trying those involved in planning and execution of the terrorist attack. The international community should exert pressure on Pakistan.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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