It would be an understatement to say that the trial in the November 26 attack on Bombay took a twist in the first three days of the week. It has taken is a mindblowing contortion.
For months, the “lone gunman captured alive”, Mohammed Amir Ajmal Kasab, was an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a Rubik’s cube. He would keep everybody guessing about his real name, he said he was a minor, he laughed at the prosecution’s questions, his parents claimed him but his nation didn’t, he said he didn’t understand Hindi, he said he did not throw grenades or shoot at Victoria Terminus, etc.
It looked like the case would drag on till the cows came home. Then, suddenly, on Monday morning—in the wake of Indian foreign policy’s ham-handed capitulation at Sharm el-Sheikh and Hillary Clinton‘s visit—Kasab did a u-turn. Yes, he killed the captain of the fishing vessel which was hijacked by the jehadis. Yes, he threw grenades and opened fire at VT. Yes, he fired at the police van carrying the Anti-Terrorism Squad personnel. Yes, yes, yes.
“Hang me,” he said. “Agar kisiko aitraaz hai…agar kisi ke dil mein shak hai ki main phansi se baachne ke liye yeh kar raha hoon toh beshak phansi ki saaza dijiye.” Relatives of the victims say Kasab’s wish should be granted to “set an example”. Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has already gone to town saying he should be publicly hanged. But will Ajmal Kasab be hanged?
Will a country sitting on Afzal Guru‘s fast-track Kasab’s case? Will the UPA government, which has cited a long list of people on the death bench, make an exception in this “rarest of rare” cases? Or will Kasab’s hanging, like Afzal Guru’s, become political football, softly raising the communal atmosphere? Or will death penalty as a form of punishment have been abolished by the time Kasab’s time comes in the natural order of events?
Also read: Hang Afzal Guru, pardon Sarabjit Singh?