Kasab Hanged, Will Terrorism?: Civil Services Mentor Magazine January 2013


Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the Pakistani National and the lone surviving terrorist of 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks, was hanged on 21 November 2012 at Pune’s Yerwada Jail at 7:30 am. The Home Minister of Maharashtra R.R. Patil confirmed that Kasab was hanged. It is quite significant to note that the President Pranab Mukherjee decided to reject Kasab’s mercy plea while 14 other petitions till October 2012 were pending and this also included Parliament attack terrorist- Afzal Guru besides other important names. Kasab was a Pakistani militant and belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group. He was born on 13 July 1987 at Faridkot, Pakistan and is 25 years old. Kasab was found guilty in 80 offences which included murder, possession of explosives, waging a war against India and many more. The Supreme Court of India upheld the death sentence of Kasab on 29 August 2012. The defense lawyers on Kasab’s side are Defense lawyers Amin Solkar, Farhana Shah and Abbas Kazmi. He was hanged five days before the fourth anniversary of the brutal terror attack on Mumbai that claimed 166 lives and sieged Mumbai for continuous three days. In the top-secret operation, the sole surviving terrorist of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab was hanged till death in Yerwada jail, Pune, on 21 November 2012. Kasab had killed 166 people on 26 November 2008 along with 9 other terrorists from Pakistan.

Kasab was the only terrorist who had been captured alive at the scene of the violence. The grainy image of the young man, a gun in his hand and a backpack slung casually over his shoulder, has become an icon of the attack.

Kasab’s death sentence had been pronounced by a lower court in Mumbai in 2008 and was subsequently upheld by the Bombay High Court in 2011 and India’s top court in August 2012. Earlier this month, his mercy plea — his last chance to stay his sentence — was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee. “It was a very somber duty that we had to perform,” Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said in a press briefing “It could have developed into a simmering sore in our country.”

Whether Kasab’s hanging will prove to be such a potent deterrent is a matter of much debate. As the initial cheers faded, India was almost immediately beset with questions of what, apart from a sense of reprisal for the victims and their families, the execution would accomplish. Kasab was among 10 men who carried out attacks on key Mumbai landmarks on Nov. 26, 2008, including two hotels, a railway station and a Jewish center. Many worry that unless the real masterminds of the attack — who are still hiding in neighboring Pakistan — are brought to justice, Kasab’s hanging will achieve precious little. “This man came to die four years ago. His life for the last four years was an in- cidental footnote in the trajectory of international terrorism,” says Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “What he has done and what has been done to him … has no impact whatsoever on the trajectory of terrorism or on the balance of power between the various players, including the nonstate actors and state sponsors.”

Indeed, some say Kasab’s hanging may even invite more violence from terror groups. Within hours of his death, a senior commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks, told Reuters that its former foot soldier is a “hero” whose death will “inspire other fighters to follow his path.”

If the worst were to come to pass, is India better prepared today than it was in 2008 to handle a domestic terrorist attack? At least some in the government, including former Home Minister and current Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, assert that it is not. “Have we done enough to build capacity since the Mumbai terror attacks?” Chidambaram told a gathering of top police officials last year. “The answer is yes and no.” Chidambaram, after he took over as Home Minister following the 2008 attacks, revamped the country’s security architecture by plumping up the police forces, arming them with sophisticated weapons and establishing the National Investigation Agency, a robust investigation bureau aimed at coordinating national efforts against terrorism. “The amount of vulnerability remains the same … The people we are talking about, with their ideologies, the hanging of a man is not going to have any kind of dampening or freezing effect on them because these are people who are willing to die and kill.”