The culmination of what was code-named Operation X on Wednesday saw the whole of India heave a sigh of relief. Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, 25, the only terrorist caught alive during the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai four years ago, was hanged at Pune’s Yerwada Jail at 7:30 am on Wednesday. A few hours after, his body, unclaimed by the Pakistani government or his family, was buried in the jail compound itself.
Operation X started on November 5, when President Pranab Mukherjee rejected Kasab’s mercy plea. The file was sent to the Maharashtra government three days later, after which a special team of 17 officials was created. So top secret was Operation X that even the 200-strong ITBP, which had been guarding him since March 2009, was not informed about his transfer to Pune from Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail in the intervening night of November 18 and 19. Even the senior-most officials were informed only on a need-to-know basis.
Yerwada jail officials told news agencies Kasab’s final words were he would not commit such a mistake again. He also requested the jail officials that his mother be informed.
Soon after Kasab’s hanging, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said India had informed the Pakistani government yesterday but Islamabad had refused to acknowledge the letter, both couriered and faxed through its high commission in Delhi.
When terrorists sailed into Mumbai in November 2008, over three days of terror in the city, 166 people were killed. Since his arrest the same year, Kasab had been kept in a high-security bulletproof cell in the Arthur Road jail.
Relatives of victims and survivors of the Mumbai attacks said justice had finally been done. K Unnikrishnan, the father of Sandeep Unnikrishnan, an NSG commando killed in the Taj Hotel strike, said: “The way the execution has been done is a model way. Before anybody could react to the rejection of the mercy petition, everything was over. That is the thing I cherish.” Smita Salaskar, the wife of Vijay Salaskar, an encounter specialist who fell victim to the bullets of terrorists during the carnage, said: “Though the execution was delayed, Kasab was finally hanged. With this hanging, homage has been paid to my husband.”
|THE ROAD TO THE GALLOWS
- Nov 26, 2008 LeT terrorist Ajmal Kasab arrested in Mumbai during serial terror attacks
- May 6, 2010 Kasab convicted and given capital punishment by the trial court. The Bombay HC upholds the sentence on February 21, 2011
- Aug 29, 2012 SC upholds Kasab’s death sentence. A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad says the 25-year-old Pakistani national showed no remorse or the possibility of rehabilitation after his arrest and considered himself a hero and a patriotic Pakistani at war
- Sep 2012 Kasab files mercy petition
- Oct 23, 2012 Home Ministry rejects Kasab’s mercy plea to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment and sends its recommendation to President Pranab Mukherjee for final disposal
- Nov 5, 2012 The President rejects Kasab’s mercy petition and sends it back to the home ministry
- Nov 7, 2012 Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde completes official procedures on death sentence after returning from Rome
- Nov 8, 2012 Home ministry forwards the death sentence documents to the Maharashtra government with mention of date and time of execution
- Nov 19, 2012 Kasab transferred to Yervada Jail from Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, where he was imprisoned
- Nov 21, 2012 Kasab hanged at Yervada jail in Pune and buried inside the prison complex
The celebratory postings on Facebook and Twitter through the day reflected the popular mood. Politicians also joined in. While BJP welcomed the step, saying “it’s better late than never”, it demanded the government now expedite the execution of Afzal Guru, convicted for an attack on Parliament a decade ago. Shiv Sena Spokesman Sanjay Raut said Balasaheb Thackeray, who passed away last Saturday, would have been happy today.