KASAB SENT TO GALLOWS SECRETLY

‘He Was Nervous But Quiet Before Execution’

ANIL ANAND

New Delhi, Nov 21: In coup of sorts the beleaguered UPA Government smarting under series of corruption charges for once breathed easier for secretly planning the execution of 26/11 Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab. Usually found dithering, the Government acted swiftly and maintained utmost secrecy till the execution process was completed.
A Pakistani national, Kasab was awaiting punishment after the recent rejection of his mercy plea by President Pranab Mukherjee.
In a related development Mukherjee has reportedly sent back 14 mercy petition including that of Parliament House attack accused Afzal Guru to the Home Ministry. This is part of the normal procedure to return petitions for the consideration of a new Home Minister taking charge.
Kasab’s hanging was such a guarded secret that the normally alert media in Delhi did not get even a whiff about the fate of his mercy petition, the rejection of which a fortnight back paved the way for his execution. It was only after the Government circles broke the news of his hanging in Yerawada jail, Pune, at 7.30 am on Wednesday that the world came to know about it.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde confirmed the news hours later. The Home Ministry reiterated by issuing a terse statement: “The petition for clemency filed by condemned prisoner Muhammed Ajmal Muhammed Amir Kasab was rejected by the President on 5th November, 2012. The sentence was executed today at 7.30 am at Yerawada Central Prison, Yerawada, Pune.”
Significantly, the UPA Government sought to downplay execution and even the precision with which it had handled the entire issue. The sense of caution was reflected from External Affair Minister Salman Khurshid’s assertion that the decision had a sense of urgency and the secrecy was maintained as someone could have approached Supreme Court in appeal, citing previous judicial pronouncements on death sentence.
The decision was kept a highly guarded secret and only less than half-a-dozen people at the top knew about it in Delhi apart from authorities concerned in Maharashtra. Those privy to the decision were the President, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Shinde, RAW and IB chiefs.
Although the ruling dispensation made no efforts at taking political mileage, the execution a day before Parliament Session and the coming 26/11 anniversary, certainly had an element of politics. The move has certainly taken wind out of the opposition’s sting as the UPA dispensation has snatched the issue from their jaw. The UPA circles will go to Parliament on a high note as the ruling combine has been facing flak due to series of scandals, inflation and misgovernance.
Significantly, the Government sources disclosed that Pakistan had been informed in advance about the decision to hang Kasab. However, Islamabad had refused to acknowledge the letter.
Confirming this Shinde said; "The External Affairs Ministry through our mission in Islamabad had informed the Pakistan government about Kasab's hanging. When they did not accept the letter, they were communicated through fax."
Shinde said so far no one has claimed the body of Kasab and if Pakistan claims it, India would give it to the neighboring country.
The Home Minister said there should not be any problem if Kasab is buried in India.
On his part, Union Home Secretary R K Singh said family members of Kasab, who live in Pakistan, had also been informed by Indian High Commission in Islamabad. "His family members were communicated through courier by our High Commission. We have the receipt of the courier sent and that was later given to the Maharashtra government," Singh said.
Pertinently, 166 persons were killed when gunmen attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Kasab was the only lone survivor among the attackers.
‘Kasab nervous but quiet before execution’
PTI Adds: Minutes before his execution in Pune's Yerawada prison, Kasab appeared to be nervous but was quiet and offered prayers, a jail official said.
"From his body language, we could make out that he was very nervous. However, he remained quiet before he was taken out from his cell for the hanging," the official said.
Kasab had also offered prayers and asked if his family was informed in advance about the hanging to which jail authorities replied in the affirmative, the official said.

LAWYERS QUESTION SECRECY
Defence lawyers of Kasab expressed surprise at his "sudden" hanging and raised questions over the execution being shrouded in secrecy.
"I was shocked. It was all of a sudden. Why was the execution shrouded in such secrecy," Defence lawyer Amin Farhana Shah said.
Shah along with Amin Solkar and Abbas Kazmi appeared for Kasab in the sessions and Bombay High Court.
"May be guarding him for so long was becoming a burden on the exchequer. But why the secrecy?" Solkar told PTI.
Kazmi, who appeared for Kasab before the sessions court, opined that the government might have taken Kasab's mercy petition out of turn as it was an exceptional case.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 21 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 21 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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