India’s apex court on Wednesday put the final stamp of approval on the death sentence awarded to Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks accused caught alive, for brazenly landing on the Indian territory, wielding an AK-47 on the streets of Mumbai and killing a number of innocent men and women, most of them Indians.
The Supreme Court’s upholding of Kasab’s death sentence effectively exhausts the legal options available before the Pakistani terrorist. Though he may file a review petition in the SC, the normal judicial recourse available to any convict has been exhausted.
It’s now for the trial court, which tirelessly went through the trial, to announce the date for Kasab to be sent to gallows. But, the big question is - how soon will Kasab be hanged? Will he too meet the fate of Afzal Guru, the Parliament attack accused on death row, whose mercy plea has been gathering dust in a corner of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
s they say, is a very dirty word. And it makes you resort to all sort of tactics. The decision on Afzal Guru’s mercy plea has also become a victim of politics. But that’s another story, for another day.
However, people are sceptical about Kasab being hanged anytime soon. A poll run on Zeenews.com - “Will Kasab's hanging also be delayed like that of Afzal Guru?” - immediately after Wednesday’s verdict had these results (till 4 pm): Yes – 82%; No – 15%; Can’t say – 3%.
The poll results effectively highlight the sceptical mood in the nation. The government’s indecisiveness in taking strict steps against terror, more so against terrorists caught and convicted, is the prime reason behind such cynicism.
Ever since the Mumbai attacks, people had been asking this question - why is it taking so much time in executing a man who was caught on tape killing people on the night of November 26, 2008? The reason was - the judicial process, which must be followed at any cost, more so in a democracy like India where each person gets a fair hearing.
No one is questioning the delay caused by the judicial process here. People in India understand and value democracy, and its pillars. The need is to keep politics out of national security, be it by the ‘in power’ Congress or ‘out of power’ BJP.
And this is the only demand of the families of the victim of Mumbai terror attacks.
“They talk of justice being done... for us, justice will be done the day Kasab will be executed,” a kin told Zee News.
The father of NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was martyred while fighting the Mumbai terrorists, had this to say, “I welcome the (Kasab) judgement. I request the President to expedite the punishment and dispose off his mercy petition."
If we were to judge by voxpopuli or the buzz on social networking sites, the mood is clear: Kasab must be hanged and a message sent across to all, including terrorists, who think we are sitting ducks.
And only after decisive action is taken in India (like executing Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab), can New Delhi forcefully ask Pakistan to bring the terrorists on its side to book.
People talk about repercussions like law and order problems if Afzal Guru and Kasab are hanged. But isn’t the state required to be prepared to maintain law and order under any circumstance and uphold the rule of law? And can internal law and order issues be taken as an excuse in not acting against the perpetrators of deadly terror strikes against the nation? If we can’t even act (read execute) against the likes of Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab, I think we should stop demanding Dawood Ibrahim and Maulana Masood Azhar from Pakistan.
It’s time that we stop compromising on terror; it’s the only way we can fortify our borders and secure the streets. It’s not undoable; America has shown the way post 9/11 attacks.
Every time I walk past the site of September 13 bomb blast at Barakhamba Road in Delhi, I am reminded of terror and this question - Could it be me next? Because I was there barely 15 minutes before the blast on that fateful day.
I believe, the government needs to act, and that too decisively, so that the citizens and not terrorist feel secure in our country.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)