As many as 164 people were killed in the dreaded 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in 2008. One of the terrorists, Ajmal Kasab, was caught at that time and hanged recently by the government.
That would have brought about some closure to those injured (there were more than 300) in the attacks and also the families of the deceased. India has had more than its fair share of terrorist attacks and Mumbai has suffered a great deal.
While most Indians have by and large welcomed the Kasab hanging in Pune’s Yerwada jail, some nagging questions remain over this sudden development...
1. Why was everything done in secret?
The news about Kasab’s hanging came out like a bolt from the blue for the nation. Why was everything done in so much secrecy? Why did they act in such haste after the President turned down his clemency plea this month? Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that he didn’t even inform Congress President Sonia Gandhi. What is the rationale behind such a claim?
2. Were the motives more to do with political expediency?
The government is about to embark on a very stormy session in Parliament with the FDI issue and Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee’s proposed no trust motion set to make things very interesting indeed. Did the Congress do this merely to divert attention from all of the above? It is also to be noted that elections are taking place in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh soon.
3. How serious was his dengue?
Recently dengue came into the limelight when it claimed the life of Bollywood stalwart Yash Chopra. Then we got the news that Kasab also contracted dengue. Thousands of people die from dengue every year. What was Kasab’s condition? Had he fully recovered from dengue, or had it affected his health badly?
4. Did we extract all the information from him that we could?
While the Americans try to eliminate many top terrorist leaders, they are known to keep the lower level terrorists alive to extract as much information as they can. In fact some are even at their beck and call and are summoned when new evidence comes to light.
Did we extract all the evidence we could have from Kasab, who is just a pawn in the whole operation? Would it have made sense to keep him alive for a few more years so that as and when new information came, we could have checked his reaction to get a feel about the authenticity of that information?
5. Will Pakistan see closure too?
Pakistan has been very uncomfortable with the very presence of Kasab on Indian soil. Initially they even denied that he was a Pakistani in the first place. That claim was subsequently blown to smithereens. Now that he is gone, will the Pakistani establishment heave a sigh of relief and will their lies get even bigger?
6. Will we still go after the masterminds?
In one way, Kasab was just a foot soldier. The Pakistani terror network is very large and many more people must have been involved in the planning and execution of 26/11. What progress has the government made with regard to that? Have they goofed up on that? Can they do much much more? Now there will be a temptation amongst those in power to get off the case now that Kasab has been hanged.
7. Why was a special case made out of Kasab?
Kasab is not the first terrorist or militant or assassin that to have been caught by India. There have been many others. Not everyone involved in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case has been hanged. Afzal Guru was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court way back in 2004. He has not been hanged yet. What is so special about the Kasab case?
8. What do most Indians think of the death penalty?
A lot of Indians are totally opposed to the death penalty with many of them wanting to abolish capital punishment altogether. Had the hanging been announced a few days in advance, then there could have been a nationwide debate on the whole issue of capital punishment, something greatly missing in India.
By suddenly announcing this move, the whole debate was denied.
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