Mumbai: Seventeen months after the audacious attack on Mumbai that left 166 dead and thousands scarred for life, the 26/11 Special Court on Monday pronounced the lone captured Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab guilty of waging war against India and manslaughter.
The court found Kasab, who hails from Faridkot in Pakistan, guilty on all 86 counts against him. He, along with nine slain terrorists, was charged with killing 166 people, including 25 foreigners, and injuring 304 others at the instance of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
He now faces the prospect of death penalty.
Kasab, who was present in the court, listened very attentively to the judge and appeared calm and unemotional.
The court also held that 20 of the wanted accused,
including LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, operations chief
Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Abu Hamza, were involved in 26/11
The prosecution, led by Ujjwal Nikam, submitted 1,015
articles seized during investigations and filed 1,691
documents to support its case. The prosecution also sought to
prove that Pakistan`s security apparatus was used by LeT in
Kasab had come to Mumbai via the Arabian Sea route with his associates and targeted sites like the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, Hotel Oberoi-Trident, the Cama Hospital and the Chabad, a Jewish prayer centre at Nariman House, and the favourite haunt of foreigners, Leopold Café.
The court will hear tomorrow arguments by the defence and
prosecution on the quantum of sentence for 22-year-old Kasab,
who was captured alive from the Girgaum-Chowpatty police
barricade following an encounter after he and his accomplice
Abu Ismael had killed several people at Chhatrapati Shivaji
Terminus, in and outside Cama Hospital and Metro Junction.
Alleged co-conspirators acquitted
However, the two Indian co-accused Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed who were charged for conspiracy in the terror attacks - preparing maps of the targeted locations and handing these to LeT operatives – were acquitted by the court as it felt that the evidence produced by the prosecution could not be relied upon.
Pronouncing the verdict, judge Tahaliyani told Kasab in
Hindi that the charge against him for waging war against India
was found to be true.
While holding the terrorist personally accountable for
killing innocent people at CST and Cama Hospital, the court
also pronounced Kasab guilty of abetting murder at other
scenes of the attacks where his accomplices perpetrated mass
Kasab was held guilty under provisions of Arms Act,
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Explosives Act, Railway
Act and other laws, but smaller charges like forgery were
All the ten terrorists were found to be carrying fake
identity cards, but the judge said it was not proved beyond
reasonable doubt that Kasab had himself forged the document.
The trial, perhaps the fastest in a terror case in India,
had commenced on May 8 in a special court set up at Arthur
Road Jail which recorded 3,192 pages of evidence after
examining 658 witnesses on 271 working days.
Thirty witnesses had identified in court Kasab as the man
who had opened fire at them.
Stating that 26/11 attack was not a simple act of murder,
Tahaliyani said, "It was part of a larger conspiracy to wage
war against the nation."
Hafiz Saeed and Lakhvi found guilty
The judge observed that terrorists` handlers from
Pakistan were directing them, asking them to "fight until
death" and not allow themselves to be caught alive.
The court found that 20 of the 35 absconding accused
named in the chargesheet, including Saeed and Lakhvi were
involved in the conspiracy. The court had issued non-bailable
warrants against 27 of them during the trial which were handed
over to the Interpol, but none was arrested.
The acquittal of the two Indians -- Ansari and Ahmed --
came as a jolt for the prosecution.
The prosecution had claimed that Ansari had prepared
maps of terror targets and handed it over to Sabauddin Ahmed
in Nepal. Ahmed allegedly forwarded those to LeT.
To buttress its point, the prosecution had relied upon
the evidence of one Nooruddin, who claimed he was present when
Ansari handed over the maps to Sabauddin. One of the maps,
according to prosecution, was found from the possession of Abu
Ismael, Kasab`s accomplice killed at Girgaum-Chowpatty area.
The judge said there was no confirmation about Nooruddin
going to Nepal and accepted the defence`s contention that if
the map tabled by prosecution was indeed found on Ismael, it
would have been soiled and stained with blood which it was
Ansari’s lawyer Rajindra Mokashi said that the loopholes in the prosecution were quite evident. “The map theory was unbelievable,” said Mokashi.
Sabahuddin’s lawyer Ejaz Naqvi added that the court rejected all the five witnesses presented by the prosecution to quit his client.
However, the verdict does not mean that Ansari and Ahmed would walk free as they are a key accused in the Rampur CRPF camp attack case in Uttar Pradesh. They would be now sent back to UP to face trial in the case.
All besides Kasab were killed during the 60-hour operation by combined security forces.
The bodies of the terrorists were preserved in the morgue of Sir JJ Hospital, barely a kilometre from Kasab’s abode in jail.
The Maharashtra government quietly disposed of the bodies in January this year after the Muslim community refused to bury them on Indian soil. So far details of how and where the bodies were disposed of continue to elude the media.