Mumbai, Nov 21: Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, 25, the only terrorist caught alive during the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, was hanged at Pune’s Yerwada Jail at 7:30 this morning, in a swift and secret execution. His body has been buried inside the jail complex.
An hour after he was hanged, Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil made an announcement saying, "I sincerely believe this is a tribute to all innocent people and the officers who lost their lives in the Mumbai attacks." Kasab’s family in Pakistan as well as the government there were informed through the Indian High Commission. Sources in government said that the letter informing Pakistan of Kasab’s hanging was couriered as well as faxed yesterday. "Our obligation to inform them has been fulfilled," Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said.
Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters after the hanging that Kasab’s body would be kept while for the family to claim it. "If they don’t then we will follow due procedure," he said. Mr Khurshid said there had been no such claim from Pakistan.
Kasab was informed of his death four days before his hanging; he was moved from his secure cell in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail to Pune two days ago. The Yerwada jail is one of two in Maharashtra equipped to handle execution by hanging.
Maharashtra government sources told NDTV that the process laid down in the jail manual was followed and Kasab was offered the option of contacting his family know as well as put down his will, but he declined these.
166 people were killed over three days of terror, when 10 men from Pakistan sailed into Mumbai in November 2008. They split into pairs and spent 72 hours targeting the city’s landmarks. A hospital was attacked; so was a Jewish centre. Kasab was the only terrorist who was caught alive.
The abiding image is of him captured on a CCTV camera at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station, strapped with ammunition and holding a deadly Kalashnikov rifle. He was intercepted at Girgaum Chowpatty by assistant police inspector Tukaram Ombale, who was killed while grappling with him.
Mr Patil recounted that the death sentence handed to him by a special trial court was upheld both by the High Court and the Supreme Court; Kasab faced charges ranging from treason to waging war against India.
President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected Kasab’s mercy petition on November 5, but the execution was kept under wraps and the announcement was made only after he was hanged. The Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist was shifted from Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail to Pune’s Yerwada Jail this Monday. Yerwada Jail is one of the two jails in Maharashtra where prisoners on death row are hanged.
The execution comes one day before the Winter Session of Parliament begins and five days before the fourth anniversary of a day that will haunt Mumbai for many days. The BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was "better late than never."
Since his arrest in 2008, Kasab was kept in a high-security bulletproof cell in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail. He had moved the Supreme Court on February 14 this year against the High Court verdict of October 10 last year, which upheld a lower court order sentencing the terrorist to death. The lower court had pronounced its judgement on May 6, 2010, 18 months after he was captured.
Kasab’s mercy petition was filed first with the Maharashtra Home Ministry, which rejected it in September, and forwarded it to the Union Home Ministry. Then, In October, the Home Ministry recommended that President Pranab Mukherjee reject his plea.
In his plea before the Supreme Court Kasab had said that he had not been given a fair trial. But the Supreme Court had rejected that contention and Justice CK Prasad had observed, "I am more than certain that the planning and conspiracy to commit the crime were hatched in Pakistan, the perpetrators of crime were Pakistani trained at different centres in that country, and the devastation which took place at various places in the city of Mumbai, were executed by the appellant in furtherance thereof."
There had been an overwhelming demand among people in India since 2008 that Kasab be executed for his role in the Mumbai attacks.
Also, as Kasab’s trial continued, the cost of keeping him alive had been a huge burden on the state exchequer. While the Government has spent over Rs. 5 crores on his high security cell at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, his security, entrusted to the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), has cost the state several hundred crores.