By Karmanye Thadani:
It’s time for our nation to celebrate. Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, responsible for killing many innocent civilians, is finally to be hanged as per the verdict of the highest court of this land, upholding the judgments of the lower courts and rejecting the terrorist’s plea for the commutation of his sentence to life imprisonment. This was an open-and-shut case. A terrorist attack of this nature couldn’t but come within the bracket of the “rarest of the rare” cases for which capital punishment would be applicable. Evidence against Kasab was undoubtedly overwhelming. The nation, except the minority that is against capital punishment per se, has been waiting for justice, and this is the least that can be done for the victims of this colossal tragedy.
As an Indian and someone who is a lawyer by qualification, I am glad that the due process of law has been followed, and no, the time this has taken is much less than many other terrorism-related cases such as the burning of the S-16 coach of the Sabarmati Express at Godhara or even other Islamist terrorist attacks that have taken place in Delhi and Mumbai or the massacres carried out by anti-Dalit terrorist organizations like the Ranveer Sena. Justice is also awaited in many cases of communal rioting, the likes of which occurred throughout Gujarat after the Godhara incident or the anti-Sikh riots following Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s murder, or even in the context of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and I consider each of these to be quite serious. If we call ourselves a democracy, we can’t let go of the basic principle of a fair trial that constitutes an integral part of the edifice of a civil society.
The Muslim community of our country had come out in the open back in 2008 demanding a death sentence for this terrorist who had abused their noble and tolerant faith, which condemns any killing of innocent people as being equivalent to destroying the whole of humanity, and for attacking their country, the victims of the attacks including more than a score of their co-religionists. The Muslims of Mumbai had won international appreciation by refusing to bury the bodies of the nine other terrorists involved in the 26/11 attacks, who had been vanquished by our security personnel, which also included Muslims. When the death penalty had been announced for Kasab for the first time, Indian Muslims organized rallies celebrating the same.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that the government, on its part, would certainly ensure that if Kasab files a mercy plea, it is disposed off in the minimum possible time and asked the government of Pakistan to punish other perpetrators who have taken shelter on its soil. In fact, in my opinion, all such petitions should be disposed of on a speedy basis. As regards Kasab and Afzal, the delicate issue of Sarabjeet remains, but we cannot endlessly keep making exceptions to our adherence to the rule of law for the same, and if Sarabjeet was indeed a RAW agent, a job such as this necessitates the voluntary consent to all kinds of risks, including facing the death penalty.
Liberal Pakistani Muslim intellectuals in the spheres of the media, academics and the fine arts, who have bravely denounced their army and intelligence agencies for sponsoring terrorism, would also certainly welcome this verdict, except those against capital punishment in principle. The trial of Hindutva terrorists like Pragya Thakur and Purohit (Sorry, I cannot prefix their names with ‘Sadhvi’ and ‘Colonel’ respectively because this is certainly not what Hinduism or the overall very secular Indian Army stand for) for killing innocent Pakistanis in the Samjhauta Express attack, is being carried out in India in a free and fair manner, and it is only therefore, desirable that the government of Pakistan reciprocate by sternly punishing Hafeez Sayeed and other such barbarians responsible for this heinous terrorist plot.[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: The author is a freelance writer based in New Delhi and has co-authored two short books, namely ‘Onslaughts on Free Speech in India by Means of Unwarranted Film Bans’ and ‘Women and Sport in India and the World: A Socio-Legal Perspective’. He is currently working as a research associate in the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), a reputed Delhi-based public policy think-tank. The views expressed in this article are personal.To read his other posts, click here.[/box]