Taliban shocked, Lashkar says he will ‘inspire’ more attacks
MUMBAI – The lone survivor of the militant squad responsible for a rampage through Mumbai that killed 166 people in 2008 was secretly hanged Wednesday morning, sparking celebrations days before the fourth anniversary of the assault on the financial capital
Pakistan national Mohammad Ajmal Kasab was the enduring image of the bloody assault, which traumatized India. Pictures of the baby-faced gunman wearing a black T-shirt and toting an AK-47 rifle as he strode through Mumbai’s train station were published around the world.
Kasab was executed on Wednesday morning amid great secrecy, underscoring the political sensitivity of the November 26, 2008, massacre, which still casts a pall over relations between nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India.
“All the police officers and personnel who lost their life in the battle against the terrorists have today been served justice,” Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said after Kasab was hanged in a jail in Pune, southeast of Mumbai.
It was the first time a capital sentence had been carried out in India since 2004. There was celebration on the streets of Mumbai and other cities as news of the execution spread, but militant groups in Pakistan reacted angrily.
People set of fireworks and handed out sweets in Indian cities. Some held up photos of Kasab with a rope noose superimposed over his head.
Attack survivor Vishnu Zende, who was working at Mumbai’s train station where nearly 60 people were killed, said the execution brought it all back.
“When I heard the news of Kasab’s execution today, I remembered those horrifying moments of the attack,” Zende said.
“My eyes were filled with tears.”
In Pakistan, a senior commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, which India blames for the assault on Mumbai, called Kasab a hero and said he would inspire more attacks.
“To die like Kasab is the dream of every fighter,” Reuters quoted a commander telling it by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The Pakistan Taliban said they were shocked by the hanging.
“There is no doubt that it’s very shocking news and a big loss that a Muslim has been hanged on Indian soil,” Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters.
TICKET TO HEAVEN
Kasab was buried inside the prison where he was hanged, officials said. He was quiet and seemed nervous before the execution, a prison guard told the NDTV network. He prayed and asked if his family had been informed, which they had.
India said it would hand over the body to Pakistan if asked. Talking from his home village of Faridkot, Kasab’s aunt said she was proud of him and wanted his body back. A school mate remembered a boisterous child who loved karate “but never harmed anyone”. Villagers threw stones and slapped around journalists who went to the village in the province of Punjab.
This year, Saudi Arabia extradited an Indian-born militant accused of being one of the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks. Police say Sayeed Zabiuddin Ansari, also known as Abu Jindal, helped coordinate the attack from a “control room” in the Pakistani city of Karachi and also helped to train the gunmen.
In a video of his interrogation by police, Kasab said his trainers and handlers had assured him prior to the attack that his killing spree was a sure ticket to rewards in heaven.
In August, Supreme Court upheld Kasab’s 2010 death sentence over the attacks. President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his plea for clemency on November 5, although this was not made public until Tuesday night.
The timing of the execution, shortly before a series of state elections, may be beneficial for the government, which opposition leaders accuse of being soft on national security.
Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist chief minister of Gujarat state, which goes to the polls in December and borders Pakistan, said on Twitter the government should move faster to execute Afzal Guru, convicted of a 2001 attack on parliament.
Ten militants arrived on the Mumbai shoreline in a dinghy on November 26, 2008, before splitting into four groups and embarking on a killing spree. They held off elite commandos for up to 60 hours in two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre in the city.
India says Islamabad is failing to act against those behind the raids, including LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head. Pakistan admits the attacks were planned on its soil, but denies official involvement.
It says seven suspects are being prosecuted for their role.
“Kasab was a foot soldier, the generals are in Islamabad, in Pakistan, and full justice will be done when they are brought to justice,” Gopalapuram Parthasarathy, a former ambassador to Pakistan said.
Improving relations with Pakistan is a keystone of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s foreign policy. Singh, who was born in present-
Pakistan was informed beforehand about Kasab’s execution, said a Pakistani foreign ministry official who asked not to be identified. “If all judicial procedures were followed, then the decision is acceptable,” the official said.
Kashmir remained indifferent to execution of Ajmal Kasab, convict in 26/11 attacks on Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.
People in the Kashmir valley remained indifferent to Kasab’s hanging in Pune this morning. Life was going on normally as shops and business establishments were open and traffic was plying on all routes as usual.
Life was also normal in other parts of the valley. However, people are now talking about Afzal Guru, convict in parliament attack case.
Gov Spent Rs 29.5 Cr on Kasab
Both central and Maharashtra governments have spent around Rs 29.5 crores on Ajmal Kasab to provide him food, security, medicines and clothes during his confinement in Arthur Road Central prison in Mumbai, official sources said on Wednesday.
Indo-Tibetan Border Police deployed around 250 guards for Kasab in the prison since his arrest in November 2008 till October 2012 and expenditure on this count worked out to Rs 26 crore, sources said.
Maharashtra government spent around Rs 3.47 crores on Kasab including food (Rs 42,313), security (Rs 1,46,81,794), medicines (Rs 39,829) and clothes (Rs 1,878). Compiled from agencies
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