Unrepentant gunman is a threat to society, says judge
Among the several charges against the 26/11 gunman, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the most serious was his waging a war against the Indian government, “whose stability is most essential and crucial for the very existence of democratic India,” the Bombay High Court said on Monday.
Upholding his death sentence, Justice Ranjana Desai said: “Perhaps the weightiest aggravating circumstance is that Kasab waged a war against the Government of India pursuant to a conspiracy which was hatched in Pakistan, the object of which was to inter alia destabilise the Government of India and to weaken India's economic might.”
The court said: “He indulged in mindless killings of innocent people with a view to overawing the Government of India and achieving cessation of a part of Indian territory. There was an attempt to create ill will and disaffection among different religions of India so as to damage its secular fabric. Waging war is a serious crime which calls for deterrent punishment.”
The order said: “[Kasab and co-conspirators] challenged the Indian Army and the State Police. Kasab targeted the CST [Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus] which is under the command of the Central government. Kasab challenged the sovereign authority of the Republic of India which offence calls for the severest punishment.”
In view of “the magnitude of attack, indicative of the preplanning,” the court called Kasab “a threat to society.”
Citing individual instances of killings, the order makes several references to Kasab's “perverse” nature of taking “devious pleasure” in killing innocent people, including patients at the Cama hospital.
The gunman was “individually responsible” for seven murders. He committed over 66 murders in accordance with a common intention with his deceased partner Abu Ismail. And, Kasab abetted in the rest of the murders by being part of a conspiracy. The attacks claimed 166 lives.
Justice Desai, reading from the order, said it was “impossible to say that he was misguided by the LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba]” and “used by the handlers as a tool.” As he voluntarily joined the terror outfit, decided to train for jihad and expressed his wish to carry out the 26/11 mission, “he knew the consequences of his actions.”
The court rejected the defence contention that Kasab was mentally unstable. “He did not appear to be repentant at all. He was perfectly sane … All his actions ... portray a scheming mind and not a mind of a mentally unstable person.”
Referring to the Supreme Court's observations that the punishment should befit the crime, the court rejected the argument that the death penalty would make a martyr of Kasab.
“In some cases, the harsh penalty of death is necessary to warn those who may want to take a similar path ... Soft handling of a crime like this will erode the public confidence in the efficacy of law,” it observed.
Kasab's crime was of a magnitude “for which the sentence of life imprisonment is inadequate. We feel that we would never be as confident as we are today in confirming the death sentence,” Justice Desai said.