Dressed in a white kurta and pyjama and sporting a stubble, gunman Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab stood in his box with a grave demeanour in the special sessions court on Monday.
“Aapko bharat ke khilaf jung ki sajish me doshi paya gaya hai. Court me saari batein sabit ho gayi hai. Aapko khoon karne ki sajish me doshi paya gaya hai. [You have been found guilty of waging war against India. All the charges have been proved in court. You have been found guilty of conspiracy],” judge M.L. Tahaliyani told Kasab while explaining to him all the charges he was convicted of in the 26/11 case.
During the entire three-hour proceedings which began at noon, Kasab sat still, his head lowered and his hand covering his mouth. He displayed no sign of agitation. He remained calm and silent when the judgment was read out.
The main judgment runs into 1,522 pages with much of the evidence presented in a tabular format, given its voluminous nature.
The court relied upon the retracted confessional statement of the lone surviving gunman as many of its aspects corroborated circumstantial evidence. Mr. Tahaliyani said the judicial confession had been voluntary as established by the evidence of the magistrate.
He referred to Kasab's confession, replete with descriptions of the training imparted, the planning and manner of the 26/11 attacks, the acquisition of weapons, cell phones and Global Positioning System handsets and the use of Voice Over Internet Protocol “to conceal the identity.”
“These types of preparations are not made by an ordinary criminal, but in a war,” the court observed.
Mr. Tahaliyani referred to the conversation between Fahad Ullah (one of the nine terrorists killed), who was hiding in a bathroom when cornered from all sides, and a handler's remark: “Ladna padega to hi mamla seedha hoga…Aap aage badhkar ladhe. [Only if you fight will the situation be under control. You go ahead and fight].”
“Instructions were constantly being given to fight and not get arrested,” the judge noted.
The “formidable question” before the court was the location from where the calls were made, Mr. Tahaliyani said. The court relied upon the call record data of Vodafone and CallPhonex and Kasab's confession to conclude that the location was “somewhere in Pakistan.”
While the court held Kasab guilty of murdering Tukaram Ombale, the police officer who was killed while apprehending him, it said Additional Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ashok Kamte was killed by Kasab's partner Abu Ismail. The death of Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar could have been caused by either Kasab or Ismail.
The court praised the testimonies of photojournalists Sebastian D'Souza and Sriram Vernekar, and train announcer Vishnu Zende, whose evidence, Mr. Tahaliyani said, was “totally blemishless.” “According to me they are the best witnesses,” he said.
The court also appreciated the evidence of Chandrakant Tike, a worker at Cama Hospital, and that of child witness Devika Rotawar. As for the key eyewitness Arun Jadhav, who was in the police Qualis carrying the slain officers, the court rejected a small part of his evidence which it found to be “exaggerated.”
Speaking to the media after the verdict, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said: “A new face of terrorism has come to light. Kasab lied through the trial, but as destiny would have it, [he was found guilty]. We proved how the terrorists were trained in our neighbouring country and how they operate. We have proved that the 26/11 attacks were the waging of a war and that Pakistan was linked to it. The court also accepted our contention of conspiracy. The acquittal of Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed is sad. We will challenge their release.”
Kasab has been convicted of, apart from waging war, criminal conspiracy, murder and abetment to murder, over 80 charges punishable under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 122 (collecting arms, etc., with the intention of waging war against the government of India), 397 (robbery, or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt), 307 (attempt to murder), 332 and 333 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty), 342 and 343 (wrongful confinement), 369 (kidnapping or abducting child under ten years with intent to steal from its person) and 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance).
The gunman has been found guilty under Sections 25 (1B) a, and 25 (1) A of the Arms Act for possession and use of firearms in contravention of licence conditions. He was found guilty under Section 9B (1) of the Explosives Act pertaining to the use of explosives in contravention of licence conditions, Section 3 B of the Explosives Substances Act for possession of explosives, Sections 151 and 153 of the Railways Act for unlawful acts at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, 135 of the Customs Act for possession of contraband goods, under the Passport (Entry Into India) Act for entering India without a valid passport or visa and under 14 of the Foreigners Act.