Disclaimer: Th following piece of writing is NOT representative of my feelings toward capital punishment, it is NOT representative of my feelings toward terrorist and this is NOT me claiming that what the Indian government did was wrong. As a citizen, I completely stand by the decisions taken by the system. This is a purely personal piece on how I felt on the day Kasab was hung.
The only thing that registered in my head on 26th November 2008 is the grainy picture that flashed on every news screen. In the image was a short man, wearing cargo trousers, a black hoodie and a school bag of sorts. His body language seemed calm, in fact, he seemed like he was taking a stroll. I remember thinking that if not for the gun he could easily pass off as someone I saw on a bus or Raja’s tea stall.
Funnily enough, I don’t really remember anything else about the day of 26/11. In fact, I don’t remember what I was doing, what I thought, how I felt when I heard the news or anything. So clearly, I can’t write about it.
However, I vividly remember another day in November; except it was four years after the attack. I had woken up to the news of Ajmal Kasab’s death. The news channels said it was a day to rejoice and that the man who claimed many lives in the Mumbai attacks had finally met his rightful fate. I remember my father mumbling something about how the government had done at least one good thing. The next few hours went on as usual, except for my head which kept saying funny things like, ‘here I was making coffee and there he was – dead’, ‘here I am arranging my books and there he was – dead’. I had read quite a bit about him in the four years that he had spent in prison. Every single account of him managed to show me how the man was only a victim of his own childish decisions and not really the savage psychotic killer he was framed to be. He came from a poor family and his brother sold Dahi Vada in a village in Pakistan. I had wondered if it tasted as good as the one I had from Krishna Sagar. No lawyer had been willing to fight for him until Anjali Waghmare stood up for his losing battle.
Amidst all the commotion, he seemed to me, like the loneliest man on Earth – a leftover. He had been the only surviving member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba team of attackers from 26/11. Pakistan refused to claim his body after his death, his family kept mum, apparently, even the rope that was used for his hanging was initially weaved by prisoners in Bihar for Afzal Guru’s hanging but when his death got postponed it was then used for Kasab. Apparently, even within the prison, he wasn’t allowed to interact much with other prisoners, the Indian government was paying quite a high fee to maintaining the young killer. I read that all he had asked for before his death was to contact his mother which didn’t take place. Apparently, he also asked for tomatoes and on being given a basket of it, he took two and ate one. There were endless discussions and claims of his final moments, of what he said and how he acted. With nobody to even take his carcass, his body had been buried in Pune’s Yerwada jail.
Another line that distinctly stuck in my memory was when a particular report said that Kasab had undergone a thorough medical examination the previous day and was declared ‘Medically fit to be hung’. The line had haunted me. I kept wondering what it even meant to say someone was physically fit enough to die. It had been a dull day. The facts are still hazy but that grainy picture is never leaving my head.