Did society make Kasab a criminal?

December 15, 2012 11:14 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:15 pm IST

‘Society made him a criminal and a murderer,’ says the former Supreme Court judge, Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, about the cold-blooded killer. (“A question of rights and wrongs”, Open Page, The Hindu , Nov. 25). And the Judge sees ‘injustice’ in his hanging. Kasab, along with nine cold-blooded fellow fanatics, kept the entire nation on tenterhooks for three days. He, with the others, came to India only to open fire indiscriminately and kill as many as he can before he dies, to fire at the unarmed innocent people with sophisticated weapons. He, together with nine others, killed 164 people! And a former Supreme Court judge tells us that “we are all guilty — all of humanity that abetted his killing and burial but could not reform him.”

I presume that the learned judge does not recognise the basics of fanaticism, bigotry and religious terrorism. They are ‘reformed’ people who sally forth to reform the world, by killing all others who don’t follow their belief. They see the gateway to heaven in killing the others who don’t believe in what they believe. They see salvation in killing those whom they consider infidels.

We kept Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar in our custody without hanging them for waging a ‘holy war’ against the nation and its people. On December 24, 1999, IC 814, an Indian Airlines passenger flight, was hijacked. The 174 passengers aboard and the entire nation were on tenterhooks for seven days, till January 1, 2000. The terrorists killed 25-year old Rupin Katyal, one of the passengers. He was stabbed to death in front of his wife. They were a just married couple. The demand of the (Harkat-ul-Mujahideen) terrorists was to release Zargar, Saeed Sheikh and Azhar.

And a great nation had to genuflect in front of the hijackers, five hardcore terrorists, and we escorted the three jihadists in our custody safely to Kandahar. Had we not hanged the 26/11 gunman, suppose the 1999 hijack episode repeats, what would have been the response of those who ‘have no doubt…that Gandhiji’s country should not have killed Ajmal Kasab’? Ask the young widow of Rupin Katyal or any of the passengers of IC 814 whether we should hang the terrorists or not. Ask them whether all of humanity is responsible for the dastardly and cold-blooded acts of the terrorists.

Govindachamy, a vagabond, pushed out a young girl from a running train, and dragged the unconscious victim to a bush and raped her. She was in a coma for four days and succumbed to her head injuries. The culprit has been awarded capital punishment and I believe he deserves it. Can we say that society made Govindachamy a criminal and rapist? I can’t answer the question. This question should be asked to the victims of rape. Or, at least, it should be posed to girls and women. It is easy for men to argue that Govindachamy “belongs to a poor family and he is a human being” and he should not be hanged. But will any girl or woman endorse it?

Coming back to Kasab, suppose he was not hanged. What will we do with him? He was a human being, there is no doubt. But is he a human being fit to be alive in a civilised society. Does a human being have the right to kill others to satisfy or justify what he believes in? If a human being commits such acts, doesn’t he disqualify himself to be called a human being just as the others who live and let live?

Threat to civilisation

When a human being disqualifies himself to be called so, he is called a criminal. And when a human being cold-bloodedly eliminates innocent human beings against whom he has no personal grudge and whom he has not even seen, he is not only a criminal but also a potential threat and danger to civilisation. I don’t see any point in the argument for clemency to such elements which undermine the very foundation of humanity. Those who put forth such arguments should clearly tell us what we should do with them, and how we should reform them, instead of offering the platitudes like ‘we are all guilty.’

(The writer’s email is lscvsuku@gmail.com)

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