A killer brought to justice
The Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday, upholding the death penalty for Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab for involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case was expected. As is known, Kasab, a Pakistani national, was involved in the heinous terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26 November, 2008 in which 166 persons were brutally killed. He was part of a team comprising ten terrorists who struck at key parts of Mumbai, held the city hostage and brought death to several innocent persons. He alone was responsible for killing 59 persons. This was an unprovoked attack and one for which there is no justification whatsoever. Inspite of his gruesome act of terror, Kasab, when captured, was afforded a fair trial and due process of law, thanks to the quality of Indian democracy. The courts, having examined the evidence, of which there is plenty in the shape of security camera footage, photographs, DNA samples and fingerprints and the evidence of witnesses, have found him guilty of murder and of waging war against India and under the terror related provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A court, headed by a special judge, awarded him the death penalty in 2010, which was upheld by the Bombay High Court in 2011, which said his ‘brutal and diabolical attacks’ aimed at ‘destabilising’ the government. With the Supreme Court now endorsing this judgement, and with the appellate process having come to an end, it may be said that justice, long awaited especially by the victims’ families, has finally been done.
No doubt, there is an ongoing debate across the world about the death penalty, with some doubting its efficacy as a deterrent, and with a few countries having abolished it even for acts of terrorism. Yet, it is very much on the statute books of Indian law, though utilised only in exceptional cases. It may be said that Kasab’s case falls squarely within the ambit of the rarest of rare criteria set up by the apex court for the award of this penalty. With India a victim of frequent terrorist attacks by ideologically motivated, brainwashed and remorseless killers, it is left with no choice but to take a hard line towards them. However unfortunate the use of the death penalty, it is perhaps justified in such cases, if only as a preventive measure. However, it may be said that executing one Kasab may not be enough. He was merely the pawn who executed the designs of more ruthless handlers sitting in safe havens elsewhere. Though India has received some information about them through Kasab, they are still secure and in a position to plot further attacks. India must, therefore, attempt to understand the workings of these terror networks and proactively work to smash them so that the people of India can carry on with their lives in safety.