Mumbai: In a packed courtroom inside the heavily fortified Arthur Road jail, a special court on Thursday sentenced to death Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone survivor of a team that carried out terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, on charges of murder, conspiracy to murder, waging war against the country, abetting murder and committing terrorist activities under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
“He should be hanged by the neck until he is dead,” special judge M.L. Tahaliyani wrote in his order. “I don’t find any case for a lesser punishment than death in the case of waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts.”
An unshaven, dressed-in-white Kasab, who special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam described as “a Pakistani killing machine” and a “heartless monster” during the trial, broke down as the sentence was read out. He asked for a glass of water and was given it. Tahaliyani explained in Hindi that he had been given the death penalty and if he wanted to say anything. Kasab shook his head and was led away.
The 22-year-old was the only Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) member in a nine-strong team to be captured alive during the carnage that began shortly after 6pm on 26 November, and ultimately left 166 people dead at the end of three days.
The court also handed down sentences of life imprisonment on five other counts, including attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, and under the Explosive Substances Act.
The execution, however, cannot be carried out until the high court confirms it, Nikam said, adding that he was satisfied with the sentence.
Kasab’s lawyer K.P. Pawar had pleaded that given his age and lack of a previous criminal record, he be given a chance to reform and be rehabilitated.
The court disagreed.
“In the court’s opinion, Kasab has no chance to reform. Keeping such a terrorist alive will be a lingering danger to the society and the Indian government,” Tahaliyani noted, citing the 1999 Indian Airlines hijacking, where some terrorists in Indian custody were released in return for hostages. “If Kasab is kept alive, this situation may occur again,” he said.
Families of the victims said Kasab should be hanged immediately. “I am very happy today... Finally my father’s sacrifice has paid off...,” said Vaishali, the daughter of assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Ombale who died trying to overpower Kasab.
Mint’s Sahil Makkar contributed to this story.