26/11 : the past and the future
One and half years ago on that ill fated evening in November, India was held ransom by a group of young men armed with guns and artilleries who claimed to have been God’s soldiers. They were sent to India with the purpose of “avenging” the crimes against the religious minorities in this country. Alas,these men in their quest to deliver justice to the wronged in this nation,themselves killed members of their brethren. That is a separate issue. On November 26 2008, India witnessed an attack on its sovereignty, an attack that sought to destabilise the very fabric that binds the nation as one. We as a nation expressed shock, let out our anger,our frustrations with the administration and the system. Although not on twitter during that period, i expressed my outrage through my blog Mumbai and its aftermath.
Time doesn’t stop. It hasn’t. India moved on. The protests died down with occasional outbursts. Investigations began. Government of India talked tough with their counterpart on the other side of the border. Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive on that night was brought to book and judicial proceedings initiated against him. After almost a year the trial of Kasab has ended. The verdict has been delivered. Kasab has been found guilty.
During the investigation many skeletons were tumbling out of the closet. Links of Indians to these terrorists were being examined, Faheem Ansari ,Sabauddin Quresi (who were acquitted by the court today) were arrested on charges of passing informations and maps to these men. Names of the real brains behind the attacks( Hafeez Sayeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi ) operative from Pakistan, surfaced. The government of pakistan vehemently denied the charges presented by India on grounds that the evidences were “insufficient” and “sketchy”. Then came the American tangle in the case. David Coleman Headley who probably did the recce. FBI’s secrecy over this man, America’s initial lack of cooperation in matters of extradition of Headley for trial in India cast doubts on the American interests too. Who were they trying to shield?
But moving on. On this 3rd day of May the special court in Mumbai has delivered a judgement that in a way was expected,but is still very relevant and important. Justice Tihalayani has based his verdict completely on Kasab’s confessional statement which he made before the court in July 2009. Pronouncing him guilty the judge said that he “waged war against India”. He was found guilty of all 86 charges,and not a single sign of emotion was seen in his face during the whole procedure.
So, what does this verdict mean? Is it just another conviction of a terrorist which in the legal tangles will become yet another “Afzal Guru” case? What sentence should be delivered to this man who has become the India’s Enemy No 1(courtesy a certain gentleman who likes screaming…i do not wish to name him…it is for you to guess). What should be the next course of action for dealing with Pakistan and the terror camps still in operation there?
The verdict talks of Pakistan’s involvement in this conspiracy. The government of India should definitely use this judgement to silence those who keep appearing on the media talking about insufficient dossiers. A strong diplomatic action, like summoning the Pakistani High Commissioner and presenting him with facts would be a step forward. The judge has talked about Headley in the verdict too and these would give us an ammunition to make our case strong for his extradition. America will have to choose sides now. Its either Pakistan or India. They cannot keep fooling both the nations. The idea of a joint operation on Pakistan based terror groups should be explored. But this requires a will. Which i suppose the government of Pakistan lacks. And sorry to say our government is not competent enough to stand up to them too. Now does that mean i advocate a full-on offensive as our principle opposition party wants? Never. Time is not ripe to suspend all diplomatic ties with Pakistan. If we are to make them see our point we need to engage them in talks. Mere shaking hands at Thimpu does not make India surrender to Pakistan.
But the bigger point remains. What sentence should be awarded to Kasab? In the light of the judgement it is but clear that the choice is between a life imprisonment and capital punishment. Emotions are running high, people across the spectrum are demanding his death. Should we hang Kasab? Does he deserve death? I know i will be blasted for this, but i think he should not be hanged. Because that will serve no purpose. These men were trained to die. Death for them would be martyrdom. Neither will it serve as a deterrent to the hundreds of other innocent Kasabs waiting to become monsters. They are brainwashed by very powerful men.And they will definitely use Kasab’s hanging as an excuse next time they attack India. Like i tweeted today we need to tackle terror not the terrorists. “Hate the Crime not the criminal” said Gandhiji. We should hand him an exemplary punishment. But let that not be death. It can also be argued that death would be too easy an end for him. Moreover why would a man be sentenced to death who remains unmoved on being charged guilty!
Another point that comes up from this trial is the incompetence of the crime branch. In spite of their claims of Indian involvement(which i believe is not false) they could not prove it in the court of law. If Faheem and Sabauddin are really accomplices in this conspiracy then their acquittal will pose a real threat to India’s existence.
Having said this i would like to again draw your attention to the fact that this judgement should be treated as a beginning of the end. This should show us the way forward and not hold us back in this struggle to tackle the forces trying to wreck our country from within.