Can the President finally seal Kasab’s fate and add to the ‘sense of closure’ that the nation seeks on 26/11?
On death row for the brazen Mumbai terror attacks, the lone surviving perpetrator of 26/11 has filed a mercy petition before the President, a fortnight after losing his legal battle for life in the Supreme Court.
The nearly four-year legal battle had ended on August 29 when the Supreme Court upheld Kasab’s conviction and death sentence, saying he had killed without “the slightest twinge of conscience.”
Ahead of Kasab in the death queue are 11 persons, including Mohammed Afzal Guru, who was convicted in the Parliament attack case, and Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, convicted for a 1993 car bomb blast outside the Indian Youth Congress office in New Delhi in which nine people died. In the case of Afzal Guru the government has been taking the ridiculous plea that his mercy petition is in a queue and his execution cannot jump the queue. Critics of the ‘soft state’ find it difficult to accept that mercy petitions should take so long to be decided upon. Besides, enemies of the state, such as Kasab and Guru, should not be treated on par with other death row convicts, it is pointed out. Kasab’s case also stands out since he is not an Indian but a Pakistani national, who is accused of waging war against India.
According to a reply received by an activist under RTI, as many as 11 mercy petitions of death row convicts are pending before President Pranab Mukherjee.
Kasab has filed the mercy petition through the jailor posted at the high-security Arthur Road Jail. The 25-year-old LeT operative had been given a certified copy of the Supreme Court verdict confirming his death sentence last week. He was then told about all rights he has as a convict, including the right to move a mercy petition.
If executed, Kasab will be the 52nd person to be hanged in India since independence.
Around 300 people are on the death row in the country and surprisingly India hasn’t carried out any death sentence in the last eight years. Dhananjoy Chatterjee, a security guard, was the last person to be hanged in India for raping and murdering a girl in Kolkata. The incident took place in 1990 and he was hanged in 2004.