Kasab's body buried inside Yeravadi jail premises

Video: Ajmal Kasab hanged

Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani gunman caught alive after the Mumbai terror attack, was hanged to death at the Yerawada central prison here in a top-secret operation this morning, less than a week before the fourth anniversary of the carnage.

25-year old Kasab was hanged at 7.30 am, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R Patil said in Mumbai shortly after the hanging.

Pakistan government was kept informed about the execution.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said Kasab was buried inside the Yeravadi jail premises.

Kasab did not have any last wish or a will, Chavan told reporters in Mumbai.

The execution in the Mumbai attack trial brought closure to many people affected by the audacious strike by 10 terrorists of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, (LeT) in which 166 people were killed. Nine LeT men were killed during the 60-hour siege which began on the night of November 26, 2008.

The prison authorities remained tight-lipped about the details of hanging performed in a well-guarded secret operation.

Kasab was executed after he exhausted all legal remedies available to escape the noose with President Pranab Mukherjee rejecting his mercy plea on November 5.

Kasab, who has been lodged at the Arthur Road prison in central Mumbai ever since his arrest soon after the terror attack, was whisked out of his heavily-guarded cell in the intervening night of November 18 and 19, a senior police official said. The team, along with Kasab, reached Pune’s Yerwada jail in the wee hours of November 19.

Scores of curious onlookers started crowding in front of the jail as the news spread in the city.

There was, however, no official word or briefing by the jail authorities on the last rites of the hanged convict.

“The President rejected the mercy petition on November 5. I signed it on November 7 and on November 8, the Maharashtra government had been communicated to take action. It was decided that he would be executed on November 21 at 7.30 AM and accordingly the whole process has been completed today,” Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said, adding secrecy about the hanging was a key.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said according to legal requirements, India informed Pakistan Government and Kasab’s family about the “inevitable event” of his execution.

“We attempted to convey to Pakistan’s Foreign Office that this decision has been taken and the execution will be done this morning. Since those were not accepted by Foreign Office, by fax we indicated the information to them,” he said in New Delhi.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who appeared for police in the case, said the hanging is a “victory” for the country.

“Due process of law has been followed,” Patil said, adding that hanging was carried out after President Mukherjee rejected Kasab’s mercy petition on November 8. He said Kasab did not have any death wish.

“This is a true homage to the innocent victims, including policemen and security personnel, who laid down their lives,” he said.

“Attack on Mumbai was an attack on the entire country,” Patil said.

Shinde said so far no one has claimed the body of Kasab and if Pakistan claims it, India would give it to the neighbouring country.

The Home Minister said there should not be any problem if Kasab is buried in India.

“I do not think there will be any trouble (if Kasab is buried in India) because India has suffered too much and everyone and this country has seen the tragedy. 166 people were killed after there days fight against humanity,” he said.

Khurshid said India did not get any request from Pakistan for handing over the body of Kasab.

Nikam said by hanging Kasab the country has paid homage to all those policemen and innocent persons who lost their lives.

“By Kasab’s conviction and death penalty, we have proved how the entire conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan. We have set an example that India will not tolerate such attacks and the accused will be brought to justice,” Nikam told reporters in Mumbai.

Nikam appeared for the prosecution in the sessions court and High Court and assisted senior counsel Gopal Subramanium in the apex court.

A group of Shiv Sena workers raised slogans ‘Vande Mataram’ slogans outside the Yerawada jail hailing the hanging of Kasab and demanded that similar justice be meted out to Parliament attack case death row convict Afzal Guru.

Kasab had been lodged in the Arthur Jail Road in Mumbai ever since he was arrested immediately after the attack in 2008. He was convicted and given capital punishment by the trial court on May 6, 2010 which was upheld by the Bombay High Court on February 21, 2011.

The Supreme Court subsequently upheld the sentence on August 29 this year.

Kasab and the other gunmen entered Mumbai by boat on November 26, 2008. Carrying mobile phones, hand grenades and automatic weapons, they fanned out across Mumbai targeting luxury hotels Taj Mahal and Oberoi Trident, a Jewish centre Chabad House and the city’s main train station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus(CST).

Our Pune Bureau adds: Speaking on behalf of Vinita Kamte, widow of the late Ashok Kamte who was killed in an ambush behind Cama Hospital, her sister and NCP MP Vandana Chavan said that the hanging marks the closure of a painful chapter for many families who were devastated by the loss of near and dear ones during the attack.

(This article was published on November 21, 2012)
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