Death or lifer? Kasab's fate will be known on May 6
On Thursday, Pakistani gunman Ajmal Amir Kasab will know whether he will be sent to the gallows or spend the rest of his living days lodged in a high-security prison. That's when judge M L Tahaliyani will declare the verdict in the 26/11 attacks, in which Kasab is accused of killing 166 people and waging a war against India.
Special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam demanded on Tuesday that the gunman be given capital punishment as his "brutal crimes" warranted no other course of action. "If we don't give him death, then India will be perceived as a soft target by terrorist groups and they will continue to target us," Nikam said passionately.
Portions of Kasab's confession were read out in court to argue that he was a bloodthirsty maniac who was actually dejected when he realized that there were not enough people to murder at CST.
"Most of his victims were helpless and unarmed. Kasab and his partner Abu Ismail shot down 72 persons, including eight women and seven children," Nikam said. "What's more, he enjoyed the act of killing."
Several aggravating factors were cited to justify Kasab being handed the harshest possible penalty under Indian laws -- death by hanging. It was shown that the terrorist strike in which he participated was premeditated. Moreover, the killings, especially the beheading of the boat Kuber's navigator Amar Singh Solanki, were exceptionally cruel and showed complete disregard for human life on Kasab's part.
Nikam also drew judge Tahaliyani's attention to the fact that since his capture, Kasab had rarely shown any remorse for what he had done. "He told a magistrate that he wanted to confess to his crime so that other fidayeen could take inspiration from what he had done," Nikam said. During the 26/11 carnage, he was responsible for the deaths of 14 police and security personnel on duty -- a crime which the Supreme Court has said deserves the death penalty.
The court's attention was drawn to the testimony given by a witness from CST identified as Farooqui. He had said that Kasab was "in a joyous mood when he saw passengers at CST die in pain".
In fact, Nikam often compared Kasab to a "poisonous snake" that must be put down. The defence advocate, K P Pawar, said that the court should explore the possibility of Kasab's "reform" and "rehabilitation".
"We have to consider that he is a young man who was brainwashed and blinded by an extremist organization," Pawar said. He added that Kasab could be brought back to the "right path" and must be given benefit of the doubt that he was "immature" and had an impressionable mind which was exploited by terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
On Thursday, judge Tahaliyani will give his findings on whether Kasab's crime fell under a judicially defined definition of "rarest of rare" and therefore deserving of the capital punishment.