On Kasab’s death penalty

Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor among the terrorists who unleashed mayhem upon Mumbai, has been given the death penalty. Well, to be precise, his death penalty has been upheld, rejecting his appeal against it.

Confirming the death sentence, the top court observed that the primary and foremost offence that Kasab was charged with was waging war against India and “We are left with no option, but to uphold the sentence.” It also observed that it was, “Crystal clear that the conspiracy was hatched by Pakistanis.”

I suppose this brings a sense of closure, if that is possible, in the Indian psyche as a whole and the victims’ families in particular. Mumbai 26/11 was a terrible tragedy, and it remains unforgivable, notwithstanding today’s verdict.

Other than that, what does the verdict achieve, though? Kasab was very much the ‘small fry’, paid to go in with a gun and fire randomly. The people who did the plotting and scheming and ran the operation sit in comfort—perhaps even hatching and plotting the next unforgivable mission, and selecting the next batch of Kasabs to do their bidding.

I suppose I should be glad, happy, whatever else, that the Kasab saga has drawn to a close. But I’m not. Because the mindless violence doesn’t stop with Kasab. It never began with him; the people who began it and ran it continue to have safe haven, and the violence won’t stop until they are hunted down.


Getting back to the Kasab verdict, two quotes from the news report:

Even as Kasab’s trial has continued, the cost of keeping him alive has been a huge burden on the state exchequer. While the Government has spent over Rs. 5 crores on his high security cell at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, his security, entrusted to the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), has cost the state over Rs. 19 crores [1 crore = 10 million].

and:

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who had been appointed amicus curiae by the Supreme Court to defend Kasab, said after the verdict, “I bow to the verdict of the court. As amicus curiae I was given full opportunity to say all that I could in his defence. Let us take pride in our judicial system which adheres to due process, whoever be the accused and whatever be the crime.”

I agree completely with Mr. Ramachandran. The millions spent on Kasab—worth every penny. His own diligence in defending him—perfect. We have a judicial system—albeit a very imperfect one—but this is the way to show that we adhere to it.

And to show that we treat our prisoners well—even the ones we know have massacred many of us.

Courage and Patriotism, the MNS Way…

Came across this news item today.

Two parts to the story.

One:

The owner of Karachi Sweets in Mulund has received a one-page note, written on MNS letterhead by local activist Rajendra Deshmukh, asking him to change the name of the shop or face the consequences.

The letter, a copy of which was shown to TOI, says, “We want to disassociate ourselves from anything related to Pakistan. Using Karachi name on an Indian signboard is inappropriate. We demand that the name of the shop be changed and the board removed. If you do not comply within 10 days, we (the MNS) will agitate.”

That’s what you call courage and being upright, no? Changing a signboard, and a brandname? Even though the owner is (now) from your own society, and contributing to it? Aren’t you guys ashamed of yourselves?

Let me remember, now… what were you saying and/or doing when Mumbai, your hometown, your pride, was under attack? Oh, that’s right: you were busy being silent, overawed, and staying away from the limelight. Was that because being in the limelight would have called for some responsible action? Or was it because you were afraid you’d be called terrorists of the home grown variety to your face?

Two:

The local police were informed but, instead of assuring protection, officials said it would be “better” if the shop changed its name and avoided any confrontation with MNS activists.

… However, the police have a different view. “We suggested that the owner should rename his shop as Mumbai Sweet House,” a Mulund police station officer said. “That will attract more customers to the shop.” Another similarly helpful suggestion came from the policemen who met the owner; they asked him to apply to the BMC’s shops and establishments department for a change of name on a priority basis.

… “We just asked him to take precautions. There is a major MNS rally in Thane on Saturday and activists are likely to pass by the shop. There may be some stone-pelting,” [says Inspector Subhash Kshirsagar].

Aren’t you guys ashamed of yourselves? And you call yourselves officers of the Law? (Or, don’t you even call yourselves that?) Raj Thackery is not even in power, for goodness’ sake!! There may be some stone pelting? What are you, weather-forecasters??

Also, the following:

MNS leader Shishir Shinde insists that the owner should change the shop’s name. “If big industrialists can change logos of their companies, why can’t this shop change its name? It will hurt Maharashtrian and Indian sentiments if the owner refuses to do so. Why stick to the old Pakistani name?”

Yeah, right.

On a related note (about being vainly patriotic) check this gem of a post from the Great Bong, and especially read about and watch the clip of Anu Kapoor.

(ToI link via this post from India Uncut.)

Conflicting ideas

This article I read quite a while back. I was outraged at the idea, for a number of reasons, decided I wanted to write about it, and how it wasn’t the right thing to do, and wanted to wonder how and why someone from an IIM – that gives the person’s views some prestige, doesn’t it? – would put forward such an article.

Well, I never really got down to it, and now the work has been done for me. Well, at least the first part about the whys and hows of the idea being a bad one. Here: go read. It’s an excellent post on why India should really refrain from having military strikes in Pakistan.

More, while discussing the situation, the author appreciates the role that the PM, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Foreign Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee have played. In particular, he writes about the PM:

I’m glad the current administration is low on posturing and high on procedure. That’s what you get when policy wonks are in charge rather than poets. No charisma at all, little to appeal to the media or the public at large, but in the end more effective in making India’s case to the world. I can’t bear to watch Manmohan Singh speak for more than two minutes, but there’s no man I would rather have at India’s helm during the current global financial crisis.

Contrast the above with the following, from this blog post:

It would be good if Shourie were the PM. The man is smart, courageous, ethical, and has the national interest at heart. Which is more than you can say about Shri Manmohan Singh. I wish India had good political leadership but if wishes were horses . . .

My idea has more or less been that Dr Singh has more positives than negatives as PM. Of course, there’s a lot that I don’t know, but what has Dr Singh done (or not done) to deserve the above comment?

Someone, please enlighten me.

Blind Terror? Or hidden strategy?

Some excerpts from recent newspaper reports:

From Incursion, Masood: Pak keeps flipping,

With India virtually taking the military option off the table, Pakistan on Thursday cast off the posture of reasonableness it had been forced to adopt because of the all-round pressure over the Mumbai terror attacks.

The return to defiance coincided with India ruling out the military option. In fact, the UPA government has gone out of its way to assure Pakistan that it does not intend to take military action, with Indian high commissioner Satyabrata Pal in Islamabad reassuring Awami National Party chief Afsandyar Wali Khan on Wednesday that India was not considering military action.

But even as the government was seething with resentment against Pakistan’s bellicosity, the sense that the Mumbai attacks may have turned out to be a cost-free exercise for Pakistan was on the rise.

From India may still strike at Pakistan: US report,

India may have ruled out the military option against Pakistan in the aftermath of Mumbai terror attacks but the international intelligence community continues to believe that strikes in PoK and elsewhere could still happen.

Global intelligence service Stratfor, in its latest report, said, “Indian military operations against targets in Pakistan have in fact been prepared and await the signal to go forward.”

“Sources have indicated to Stratfor that New Delhi is going through the diplomatic motions in order to give Pakistan the opportunity to take care of the militant problem itself — but the Indians know that Islamabad has neither the will nor the capability to address their concerns,” Stratfor said.

Almost every member of the international community also believes that the next attack in India would see the gloves come off.

From Terror squad may have sneaked into Bengal,

… specific intelligence inputs that an eight-man hit team, including HuJI terrorists from Pakistan and KLO militants, has sneaked into the state through the Bangladesh border.

This ties up with intelligence inputs soon after the Mumbai terror strike that HuJI-KLO teams might have entered Bengal armed with RDX. Intelligence sources have revealed that a group of over 30 HuJI and KLO members had entered Bengal through three different locations — one crossed the North Bengal border while two others entered from south Bengal.

These groups are “consistently” planning attacks in Kolkata and another location in south Bengal, and even in Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri, say sources.

Makes you wonder. Are these terror strikes done with the sole intention of, well, terror? Or is there more goings on behind the scene than meets the eye?

If the terror outfits are directly state sponsored by Pakistan, then it seems that it is more harm than good for Pakistan in multiple attacks on India. If they are indirectly sponsored (by the military, for example) what motive does this give to the Pakistan Army? They are itching for some action and want to encourage war? A war would increase their power and budgets? What?

And if they are not state-sponsored acts in any way, then once again the motives come to the fore. These groups are more or less in a safe haven in Pakistan; why would they jeopardize their own standing by encouraging military acts from India and (already) from the US? Does it serve their purpose to have war between the arch-enemy neighbours? Arms sales, perhaps? More opportunity to influence people to join their ranks? What?

It is intriguing to think that these outfits would not read the news and take account of what is happening. Isn’t it much easier to believe that they want to direct the political setting in the region for their own benefit?

Mumbai: Terror, resilience and concerns… (updated)

Mumbai is under attack – again. More people killed, more destruction, more gore and blood. How much longer must this go on? I know, there are no answers, and fewer directions to move to solve the problem – but the questions remain, don’t they?

Meanwhile I hear Mumbai is at least in part back on its feet, with people moving about and trying their best to get back to work. This is something that amazes me every time that Mumbai is hit – the ability of its people to be incredibly resilient and infallible. I hope we as a people and as a Nation can be as strong, as resilient, as infallible.

I also hear that the Army was promptly brought in, in part, because the Mumbai police could not be trusted to do their best. Why? Because the Mumbai Underworld has strongholds even within Mumbai police. Is this true? I heard it, but I don’t really want to believe it. Please tell me it was simply the scale of the situation that brought the Army in!!

Condolences, meanwhile, are due to the families of those dead – civilians on the street, guests at the hotels, and members of the Mumbai police.

***

And the media pundits have begun their act. I was watching the live feed from NDTV, and on came an ex-IPS officer YP Singh. At a time when there is no information at all about the origin of the attackers, their backgrounds and allegiances, YP forcefully suggested that they were either from ‘across the border’, or were trained abroad. I am paraphrasing, but his dialogue went something like this: “This is a highly trained group, and such kind of training is simply not possible in India. Ergo, they are from abroad or were trained abroad. Also they were either from Al-Qaeda or trained by Al-Qaeda!”

Why exactly must the training have been abroad? Do you suggest that India cannot have the capability to have such high quality training? I am sure that is not your point. Then your idea must be that it is not possible to run a training camp without the police / government knowing. I am shocked, really, at this scale of naivete, and this tendency to be completely blind to the idea of being realistic. In as large a country as India, it cannot be impossible to have people trained without leaking information. An ex-IPS officer of all people should know better, and should also know to not attach blame to anyone without having any information, don’t you think?? And here he is, being a media pundit.

Meanwhile, the so-called Deccan Mujahideen, apparently from Hyderabad / Andhra Pradesh were heard to be speaking Punjabi with each other, and initial indications are that they are from Pakistan. Heh. Talk about spreading misinformation!