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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 914

Kin of Mumbai attack victims happy at Kasab hanging

From R. Vasudevan—Reporting from New Delhi
New Delhi, 22 November (Asiantribune.com)

Relatives of victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack victims on Wednesday welcomed the execution of the lone gunman, Ajmal Kasab, saying justice has been finally delivered.

In Varanasi, Sunita Yadav, wife of victim Upendra Yadav, expressed her gratitude to the authorities for carrying out the execution. Upendra was killed while waiting at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station to catch a train as militants opened fire on civilians. “We would like to thank the authorities and the law for hanging the one who had widowed so many women and orphaned so many children. We sincerely thank them,” Sunita said.

Many foreigners, some of India's wealthy business elite, and poor train commuters were killed by 10 Pakistani gunmen in a three-day rampage through some of Mumbai's best-known landmarks, including two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre.

The news of Kasab’s execution was also received with joy by Shabbir Dalal in Maharashtra’s Sholapur town, who lost his uncle and cousin in the attack and himself suffered severe injuries.

Dalal recounted the horror of the attack on the fateful night of November 26, 2008 when he was waiting at Mumbai’s Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus rail station to catch a train home along with his relatives.

“We had been sitting outside the VT station. Three of us were waiting outside gate no. 12, me along with my uncle and nephew. The first bullet hit my cousin Ejaz Dalal and he died on the spot. Then another bullet hit my uncle and he also died on the spot. Then I got hit in my leg by a bullet and began to bleed badly. I lost a lot of blood as bullets were being fired blindly in all directions. So much blood was spilled that day. After that I was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and then I was shifted to the J. J. Hospital. My treatment went on for one year at J. J. Hospital, where I underwent six operations. Today when I heard that the government has hanged Kasab, I feel elated,” he said.

Kasab was filmed walking through Mumbai's main train station carrying an AK-47 assault rifle and a knapsack on his back. Nearly 60 people were gunned down in the crowded station.

For several of the relatives of victims, happiness was tinged with a feeling of delayed justice.

Dev Singh Gosain, father of Gautam Gosain, who was gunned down at the Taj Hotel when the attacks happened, said the hanging should have happened much earlier.

“I have talked to my wife and she was watching the television as well and is very happy.

Whatever had to happen has happened. The entire country wanted that he should be hanged. We were very happy when the President had rejected his mercy plea. If it had been done earlier, then it would not have got so delayed,” he said.

The co-owner of Leopold Café, Farzad Jehani, said: “The materialistic loss can always be replaced but human life cannot be replaced. So, I don’t care about the materialistic loss but, always the thought comes to the people’s lives that we have lost - two of my waiters that I have lost, three of the foreign nationals that were lost, three local Indians that were lost, so many that were wounded. How are we going to change those people’s family life? How are we going to change those who were wounded and are having the nightmares going on? So all those things cannot be changed.

Ramdas said: “Though the decision of hanging Kasab was delayed, but a good step has been taken by the government and is in the interest of the people. He deserved to be hanged.”

Mujeer Ali, another Mumbai resident, said: “We are happy with the decision of hanging Kasab, but it came pretty late. He should have been hanged on the day when he was caught. Our government delayed its decision and fed him in the jail for so many days. If the amount that was spent on him estimated at Rs 50 crore, was given to a poor family, they would have sustained for their entire life.

Kasab's execution happened very quickly for India's usually glacial justice system. Three people convicted of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi are still on death row, 21 years after he was killed by a suicide bomb.

Kasab was found guilty on more than 80 charges in May 2010, including murder and waging war on India, and was sentenced to death by hanging. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence on August 29. It was the first time a capital sentence had been carried out in India since 2004.

India has accused Pakistan-based militants of organizing the attacks, saying Islamabad has failed to act against those behind the raids. Pakistan denies involvement and says it is prosecuting seven suspected militants for their role.

How the secret operation was conducted

Here's a look at the process that the government followed in the Ajmal Kasab's hanging, which was kept under wraps and media got no wind of it. The shifting of Kasab from Arthur Road jail in Mumbai to Pune was a hush-hush operation because only Pune jail had the facility for hanging.

The process to hang Kasab began in the first week of November with only four cabinet ministers, the chief minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan and a few officials in the loop.

While Pranab Mukherjee rejected the mercy petition on November 8, informal discussions had already been held before that in anticipation of the President rejecting Kasab's mercy petition.

A major calculation was needed to prevent an IC 814 kind of situation where the government would face hostage situation to bargain for Kasab. The Director of IB, Nehchal Sandhu, was a key official who coordinated between the Centre and state government officials to hang Kasab.

A suggestion was made about burying Kasab at sea like Osama Bin Laden, but was finally rejected in favour of Yerwada Jail.

Both the Congress and BJP welcomed the hanging of Kasab. Welcoming the execution of Ajmal Kasab, Congress on Wednesday hoped the government would now pursue the case against the handlers in Pakistan as also expedite the decision on Parliament attack death row convict Afzal Guru. Police had succeeded in capturing Kasab alive after killing the remaining nine terrorists.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, the lone person caught alive during the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai in 2008, deserved the extreme punishment. Chidambaram, who was commenting on Kasab's execution, said 'one sad sorrowful chapter has come to an end.'

"Nothing that we do now can bring back the lives of over 176 people, who were killed in that horrific attack. But those families to whom our heart goes out today must have some sense of satisfaction that justice has been done in the case of one perpetrator whom we were able to capture alive. I think we should leave the matter there and move on now," he added.

The BJP welcomed the hanging of Ajmal Kasab but emphasised that his handlers across the border in Pakistan should also be brought to justice. "Better late than never. Kasab's hanging will act as a balm on the wounds of the people of Mumbai but their wounds are still fresh. They will get relief only when Kasab's handler's across the border are brought to justice," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, while demanding that Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru be hanged soon to send across a strong message to the terrorists and instill a sense of fear in them. BJP also welcomed President Pranab Mukherjee's prompt refusal of Kasab's mercy petition.

For Lashkar, he is a hero

Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, executed in India on Wednesday for his role in the 2008 Mumbai massacre, was a "hero" who will inspire more attacks, said a senior commander of the Pakistani militant group accused of masterminding the attack.

"He was a hero and will inspire other fighters to follow his path," the commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

- Asian Tribune -

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