Tears & Anger: Students of Hate Schools

By Prabhakar Timble
16 September 2012 09:59 IST

The outcome of death sentence was inevitable for Ajmal Kasab. It was damning evidence, committed intent and ruthless execution of the crime from the moment the group of terrorists laid their feet in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India. Kasab’s trial stands testimony to the inalienable fact that we live in a country committed to the rule of law. Article 21 of the Constitution prohibits the deprivation of a person’s life or liberty except in accordance with procedure established by law.

Fair trial our cornerstone

Despite the height of passion for the blood of Kasab and the heinous crime committed documented on CCTV making Kasab’s culpability visible to all, our country’s legal system necessitated a fair and just trial to the criminal. There were attacks on the lawyers who tried to plead for Kasab. There was a thought process that only humans have human rights and terrorists do not have any human rights. The social pressure was heavy with impatience at its height. With the world watching and the citizens exceeding the borderline of contempt of the country’s politics, government and the judiciary, it was the test of our doctrines of criminal jurisprudence.  In a society based on the rule of law, even the most contemptible and detestable accused like Kasab is entitled to a fair trial and legal representation. The courts behaved in the most dignified manner to uphold human rights and the rule of law. There are globally accepted procedures for terrorist killings enshrined in international human rights laws and principles of natural justice. The Indian judiciary has lived up to these tenets. If the trial was unfair, Kasab, his co-conspirators and the terrorist groups sheltered in Pakistan would have had the last laugh.

Though the trial has reached a logical conclusion the curtain of the drama on terrorism and threat of terrorist attacks is wide open. Kasab merely executed the crime; the real perpetrators were his handlers and superiors who hired, indoctrinated and trained him. The transcripts of the intercepted telephone conversations, the boat’s movements, details about the explosives, ammunition, etc., will in all likelihood establish Kasab’s links with his co-conspirators in Pakistan. The criminal conspiracy and abetment of the main accused and their trial remain unanswered. Kasab’s trial also raises the curtain on the state of our police and law and order machinery. The terrorist attacks of such type and a few others we experienced are not possible without “internal” abetment and logistics support. It shows gaps in our intelligence and surveillance.

Terror of patriotism

Kasab wounded India’s pride by killing innocent citizens. Our judicial system rests on the premise that an accused is innocent till proven guilty. Yet, when Kasab pleaded ‘not guilty’, the media and the people on the street questioned whether the criminal trial was a farce and an attempt to shield the criminal for inadequate and insufficient evidence. There have been others caught on TV committing crimes. TV cameras followed Gujarat’s mobs as they looted Muslim shops in 2002, set their dwellings ablaze and slaughtered families. These acts were criminal attacks by people who were known to each other and who had stayed as neighbours together for years. In Gujarat it was neighbours known to each other, stayed together, exchanged goods in the market, supported the business of each other, and met each other in school and for common social functions. Here also the real perpetrators and conspirators remain behind the curtains. This is organised crime under the guise of patriotism.

Ajmal Kasab was not known to the victims and neither Kasab knew them.  There were no attachments and emotional bonds except that all were innocent human beings. Raj Thackeray’s supporters assaulted and battered North Indians in Mumbai in the full glare of TV cameras. The Amarnath Yatra agitators were shown on TV uprooting railway tracks. There are memorable shots of Sri Ram Sene brigade bashing up girls. Ajmal Kasab’s crime may be considered to surpass all the above but on principle there is evidence on camera in the crime of our self-acclaimed patriots. The argument could be that Kasab is a Pakistani, an enemy, and the others are our ‘bharatiya’ brothers and sisters too.  However, the above incidents injure and offend India’s pride in no less measure.

Awesome Muslim lady

The day which brought death sentence to Kasab also brought poetic justice to the Muslim lady in Gujarat whose brothers, sons, daughters and grand-children and the child in the womb of the daughter or daughter-in-law was murdered in her full view by Bajrangi and others. I emphasise the word ‘poetic’ because criminal punishment to the accused cannot repair the loss of this family. Despite this, the statements of the living victim touched me and will move any human to tears. She said that she wants all those who violated laws to be punished be it Godhra or the Gujarat riots. The lady was against death sentence. They need to get life imprisonment. They need to live to understand the pain and also why they did this to unsuspecting innocent women and children should haunt them. They need to live rather than die for the crimes they committed.

As a contrast, no sooner the news of the verdict against Ajmal Kasab splashed we had dreams to rejoice further.  Kasab should be hanged in public was the reaction of many. Some expressed the desire that the execution of death sentence should be telecast live on all national channels. Looking at the current state of our TV industry channels may even bid for rights to earn multiples through commercials and the public may watch it like a cricket match with beer in their hands and chicken tandoori in their mouth.

No doubt Kasab needs to be punished in the harsher way as provided in the Indian Penal Code. But, to enjoy it and relish it like the fresh raw mango pickle of the season and justify this enjoyment as national pride is detestable. Whether to cheer unbolting a bottle of champagne or to empathise with the young Kasab who himself had signed his death certificate being a victim of indoctrination is everybody’s free choice. On the day of the execution, my eyes will be wet for youngsters like Ajmal Kasab whether Pakistani or Indian who get caught in the net of campaigners of hate and violence.  Communal hatred and violence only kills innocent human beings, it cannot build a strong nation.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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