The news of Ajmal Kasab’s hanging was received with joy by the close relations of the victims of the ruthless group of terrorists who sailed to Mumbai in two hijacked vessels and sprayed bullets into the bodies of anyone in sight at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Oberoi Trident Hotel,
Nariman House and city streets on November 26, 2008. No less happy would be the victims of terror attacks in other places in other times in India; and not only in India, but in other countries too. There was celebration on the streets of Mumbai and other cities as news of Kasab’s execution spread. The snapshot of Kasab from the railway CCTV while he was shooting a barrage of bullets at the people at the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus is a haunting image that chills hearts at the thought of how helplessly those innocent passengers must have screamed and stampeded trying to save themselves from the incessant charge from his AK-47.
Kasab did not stop there. He and fellow terrorist Ismail Khan killed the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare and others, and then hijacked a police jeep. They headed towards Metro cinema, but on the way one of the tyres of the jeep got a puncture. Kasab and Khan hijacked another vehicle, but they faced a police barricade at Chowpatty, where police firing killed Khan. Kasab lay in the vehicle, pretending he were dead; when assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble approached him, he pumped five bullets into Omble’s body, but Omble grabbed Kasab’s AK-47, helping his colleagues to finally overpower him.
When you think of a Kasab who committed such savage acts you cannot have any sympathy for him. He knew very well what he was doing. There was no innocence about him. He was an adult. He had chosen himself to be a jehadi and taken training with the Lashkar-e-Taiba. He may or may not have known that Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, ISI was also with Lashkar-e-Taiba for the special training he was undergoing with others. But there was no mistaking he knew what they expected him to do. He knew he was going to kill innocent people. He had a chance after the training to run away from the bloody mission if he wanted. A few months before he secretly sailed with others in the appointed squad to Mumbai, he was allowed to visit his family. He was believed to have sought blessings from his mother to wage jehad. We do not know what his mother told him. The fact that he returned to the squad for the appointed mission suggested he was determined to pursue his ruthless career regardless of how his mother or father felt.
It was not the brainwashing of Lashkar-e-Taiba that had made him decide for himself independently. At his home in Faridkot village, 140 km from Lahore, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the family was too poor for the father to have total authority and control over him. From what became later known, Kasab fled home in 2005 because his father could not buy him new clothes on Eid. He took to crime, from where Jama’at-ud-Da’wah, the political wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba picked him up for training for jehad.
From these accounts, it was clear that Kasab made a decision all by himself to join the appointed squad and kill as many people as possible shooting from his Kalashnikov and using all of his cartridges he was given in a knapsack. Rivers of blood were on his mind. He, with others in the squad, killed 166 people. Most of us cannot be faulted to think that we should not allow any place on this earth for such a monster.
And if any compassion were left, the terrorist groups operating in Pakistan are causing it to dry up. “We have decided to target Indians to avenge the killing of Ajmal Kasab,” said Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan by telephone from an undisclosed location to a news agency. Ehsan demanded that India return Kasab’s body. “If they don’t return his body to us or his family we will capture Indians and will not return their bodies,” Ehsan said. Asked to elaborate how his group would pick up Indians, he said they would strike Indian targets “anywhere”. This might put the Pakistan government in a quandary, which does not want any fuss over Kasab’s hanging; on the contrary, it said it was committed to eliminating terror in cooperation with other countries.
But then Pakistan’s Taliban, like other terror groups in the country, is able to act on their own. We cannot therefore really predict how the Taliban or Lashkar-e-Taiba or other terror groups in Pakistan would react to Kasab’s hanging. That brings us to a very nagging question: Is capital punishment more effective deterrence to bloodshed than long imprisonment? Will the hanging of one terrorist prevent growth of terrorism? Will Kasab’s execution have chilled the hearts of all the living impoverished, adventurous, delinquent youths so much that they would now refuse to join jehad and take training to perpetrate massacres? The answer is most certainly no. Because indoctrinated youths like Kasab take to jehad fully aware of risk to their life. “For jehadis Allah opens the gates of jannat (paradise) Himself,” the fundamentalist clergy din it in their ears. Going by that ‘divine truth’, Kasab must have found a nice place for himself in heaven.