Friday, February 18, 2011

AP Samachar - 18 February 2011

AP Samachar - 18 February 2011: "
Arindam Chaudhuri
February 18, 2011 8:54:27 PM It is absurd that despite overwhelming evidence of his involvement in the 26/11 carnage, Ajmal Kasab continues to enjoy the hospitality of the Government of India which has spent crores of rupees on his safety and security till now. Such an attitude can only embolden terrorist organisations with designs on India What more does the Government of India need to punish Ajmal Kasab who was caught red-handed causing mayhem in Mumbai on November 26, 2008? More so at a time when Governments across the world have adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards terrorism. Look at what the Sri Lankan Government did to the LTTE which had earned the reputation of being the most dangerous terrorist organisation in the world: It was uprooted in a matter of months. Here, first we allow Kasab and nine others to reach the shores of our country; we also allow them to mercilessly take innocent lives and destroy valuable property; we manage to kill nine of them, finally catch one of them, and then keep him under guard for 646 days without any punishment for reasons that fail any sane mind. For the record, Kasab’s trial ‘officially’ began on the April 15, 2009 and the High Court’s verdict is tentatively slated to be announced on February 21, 2011— a total of 646 days. What is most insane is that unlike many countries, where in similar cases no one bothers about witnesses or evidences and verdicts are passed with no consideration whatsoever, in our case not only do we have enough evidence, including closed circuit TV footage that caught Kasab in action and footage of the Mumbai attack telecast live by all news channels, but Kasab himself has accepted all the charges brought against him. Yet the Government chose to make him stand trial instead of hanging him straight away. Like every Indian, I ask: For what has he been kept alive? Is it to make his defence lawyer the most sought-after criminal lawyer of India? Or is it to create a poster boy image out of Kasab? If this is the intention of the Government, then one must admit that it has been fairly successful. Otherwise, where else does a terrorist who was part of a full-fledged terror attack against India in which at least 166 people were killed not only go unpunished for so many days but is also served mutton biryani, is given access to newspapers and is provided with his choice of clothing? All this is provided to Kasab by the same Government, which serves other prisoners sub-standard food, two sets of black-and-white striped uniforms and dumps them in the middle of the most inhumane conditions, that too often on account of petty crimes. Honestly, keeping Kasab alive speaks volumes about the indecisive and spineless attitude of our Government. And it is not that our Government has proven this just to its own citizens. The message has, more dangerously, been conveyed to various terrorist outfits which, by now, know very well that the Government of India does not have a spine. What is worse is that by keeping Kasab alive, the Government has potentially increased the probability of another 26/11, or another IC-814 horror. It was owing to the let-go attitude of the Government that the Indian Airlines flight en route to Indira Gandhi International Airport from Tribhuvan International Airport on December 24, 1999, was hijacked to Kandahar with 178 people on board. That hijacking led to the release of terrorists like Maulana Masood Azhar (who played an active role in the 2001 attack on Parliament House and later was part of the 26/11 plot), Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (who went on to murder Daniel Pearl) and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar (who has been recruiting and training terrorists in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) to secure the freedom of the hostages. Contrast this to what happened during the Moscow theatre hostage crisis, also known as the 2002 Nord-Ost siege. And the way the Russian Government’s unbending attitude towards terrorist demands set an example in front of its people. Moscow had responded in a similar manner to the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis. It is needless to state that when it comes to national security, nothing else can be a priority for any Government. But in the Kasab episode, it is intriguing to analyse the economics of keeping him alive for so long. It is estimated that the Maharashtra Government has spent a whopping Rs 31 crore in the first year of Kasab’s arrest. From creating a bullet-proof cell in the JJ Hospital premises (which was never used) to visits by 24 doctors to attend to his various ailments in just one year, the Maharashtra Government has done it all. As if this were not enough, this celebrity-terrorist was provided with an imported van costing Rs 6 crore — which was stolen as soon as it reached India. Above all, Mumbaikars, who faced the brunt of the 26/11 carnage, have had to bear the delay in the laying of new water pipes near Arthur Road Jail which has cost the BMC another Rs 12 crore while the re-routing of the monorail has dented the Government’s coffers by another Rs 44 crore — all this on account of ‘security reasons’. A back-of-the-envelope calculation indicates that the Government has spent around Rs 100 crore in just one year on Kasab who, along with his fellow terrorists, destroyed public property worth Rs 41.72 crore. In short, Kasab has made our Government spend more than what he destroyed. This entire saga has proven again that our Government is at best good at condemning assailants, felicitating martyrs, compensating victims, addressing the nation with a false hope and — if by chance a terrorist is arrested — holding terrorists alive till another negotiation takes place. A swift verdict to hang Kasab is the least we can do for those who lost their lives during the attack which began on 26/11. On February 21 the verdict must be “Hang Kasab till death”. And it must be implemented fast without wasting time. The writer is a management guru and Editor, The Sunday Indian.

The Pioneer
Deccan Chronicle
The Hindu