Pakistani national Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist of the Mumbai terror attack of November 26, 2008, was hanged in a Pune jail at 7.30 am on Wednesday, after his mercy plea was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee earlier this month.
Kasab had been buried inside the premises of Pune's Yerawada Central Jail shortly after the execution, Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan told journalists.
Chavan said Kasab had been shifted from Mumbai's Arthur Road jail to Pune two days ago.
Kasab did not leave behind any will, the chief minister said.
The chilling images of Kasab's killing spree, captured by close-circuit TVs installed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai were rekindled, as Maharashtra home minister RR Patil announced the execution, carried out in complete secrecy.
"All the legal procedures in the 26/11 terror attacks case were completed," Patil told reporters in Mumbai, adding: "Accordingly, Kasab has been hanged this morning at 7.30 am in Yerawada Central Jail."
'Pak security stop journalists from entering Kasab's village'
Pakistani security and intelligence agencies on Wednesday barred journalists and television cameramen from entering Ajmal Kasab's hometown in Punjab province, hours after the lone surviving terrorist involved in the Mumbai attacks was hanged in a Pune jail.
The security personnel, who were in plain clothes and pretended to be villagers, stopped reporters from entering Faridkot village, located 150 km from the Punjab capital of Lahore, several journalists said.
The personnel tried to snatch cameras from crews of some TV news channels and manhandled them when they argued they had come to Faridkot to film and interview Kasab's neighbours.
"The men from the security agencies in the guise of villagers were deployed on the road leading to Kasab's neighbourhood. They asked us to go back and not to try to defame Pakistan," a correspondent of a leading English daily, who did not want to be named, said.
Pigeons fly outside the Taj Mahal Hotel, which was one of the targets of the 26/11 attacks, in Mumbai. Reuters Photo
'Kasab was quiet before execution'
Minutes before his execution, Kasab appeared to be nervous but was quiet and offered prayers, a jail official said.
"From his body language, we could make out that he was very nervous. However, he remained quiet before he was taken out from his cell for the hanging," the official said.
Kasab had also offered prayers and asked if his family was informed in advance about the hanging to which jail authorities replied in the affirmative, the official said.
“I swear by God, won't do such a thing again (Allah kasam dubara aisi galti nahi karunga)”, were the last words uttered by him.
Kasab's end came five days before the fourth anniversary of the brutal terror attacks that claimed 166 lives and injured 300 people. Nine of his associates, who had sneaked into Mumbai for the three-day carnage, had been secretly buried in the city in January 2010.
The hanging also comes a day before the winter session of Parliament and weeks ahead of Gujarat assembly election in December.
'Tell my Ammi', this was the message conveyed by Kasab, who was hanged on Wednesday, when he was told about his November 21 execution, official sources said.
Nooree Lai, mother of Kasab, was apparently the closest person to him as he only uttered her name when asked about his last wish, the sources said.
After completion of the formalities, home secretary RK Singh wrote to foreign secretary Rajan Mathai to inform Kasab's mother and other family members who are in Pakistan.
Accordingly, the authorities, through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, had sent a letter to his mother through courier on Tuesday, fulfilling his last desire, the sources said.
Union home minister said a letter was sent to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi, informing them of the decision to hang Kasab. When the letter was not accepted, a the same was faxed to Pakistan's foreign ministry. But there was no response.
Kasab -- who was barely 21 when he carried out the brutal attack -- was sentenced to death on four counts and to life sentence on five counts on charges including murder, waging a war on India and possessing weapons.
He was first sentenced to death by a special trial court on May 6, 2010.
The Bombay high court upheld the verdict Feb 21 last year, followed by a similar decision by the Supreme Court on Aug 29. Finally, President Mukherjee rejected his mercy plea Nov 5.
"It took the Maharashtra government less than two weeks to hang Kasab, after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his mercy petition Nov 5. I forwarded it to the Maharashtra government on Nov 8," Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in New Delhi.
"Pakistan has been informed but there is no demand for Kasab's body," he said, adding, the the entire operation had to be conducted under secrecy due to the sensitivities involved and all the due procedures were followed.
Police stand guard outside the high-security Yerwada Jail where Mohammed Kasab was hanged in Pune. AFP Photo
Soon after, reactions started pouring in.
The hanging of Kasab was a case of "better late than never", the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said on Wednesday after the 26/11 Pakistani terrorist was executed in Pune's Yerawada jail.
"It took us four years to finally hang him. Better late than never," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told mediapersons in New Delhi.
Asking the government to "expedite the whole process of mercy petitions", Prasad also demanded action against Afzal Guru, who masterminded the attack on parliament in December 2001.
"All the handlers, conspirators of the Mumbai attack still remain at large in Pakistan," Prasad said further.
BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi termed the hanging as "a stern warning to the enemies of India especially those across the border who want to terrorise India".
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who appeared for state in the case, said with Kasab's hanging homage has now been paid to those lost their lives in the terror attacks.
"By Kasab's conviction and death penalty, we have proved how the entire conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan. We have set an example that India will not tolerate such attacks and the accused will be brought to justice," Nikam said.
Kasab's hangmen was also kept in dark
The operation to execute Kasab was on Wednesday shrouded in secrecy with even the hangman kept in the dark about the terrorist's identity till the last minute.
Kasab, who has been lodged at Arthur Road prison in Pune ever since his arrest soon after the Mumbai terror attack, was whisked out of his heavily-guarded cell in the intervening night of November 18 and 19, a senior police official said.
"Kasab was escorted by senior officials of crime branch, commandos of Quick Response Team (QRT) and ITBP officials, who have been guarding the terrorist since his arrest in November 2008. The team, along with Kasab reached Pune's Yerwada jail in the wee hours of November 19," the official said.
According to the officer, except the jail superintendent, deputy jailor and doctor, no jail authority was informed about the identity of the accused.
"The jail authorities were only told that a high-profile accused is being brought to Yerwada. His identity was not revealed. Kasab was lodged in an isolated egg-shaped cell guarded by ITBP personnel," the official said.
Even the hangman was not informed about the identity of the accused till the last minute. "We had told the hangman that he is to execute the death penalty of a terrorist. The identity was revealed to him only few minutes before the execution," the official said.
Kasab was confined to a special-made bullet and bomb-proof cell at Arthur Road Central prison ever since his arrest in November 2008. However, he was executed in Yerwada prison as facilities to hang exist in that prison only, he said.
Before the execution, as per the norms, Kasab was asked if he had any final wishes, to which the terrorist replied in the negative.
Soon after he was hanged, the doctor, who was present in the room, confirmed Kasab's death and informed the government authorities.
According to authorities, Kasab's body has been buried inside Yerwada jail itself.
Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde with home secretary RK Singh addresses the media regarding the execution of Ajmal Kasab at North Block in New Delhi. PTI Photo
'We have got justice'
"The first thing that comes to my mind is what happened is good. We are happy that we have got justice," wife of a railway ticket collector, who was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, said today reacting to Pakistan terrorist Ajmal Kasab's hanging.
Ragini Sharma, whose husband S K Sharma was killed in the 2008 terror strike, said she would like to thank the President for rejecting Kasab's mercy plea.
"I would like to thank the President. However, it got delayed but we did get justice. I am happy that it (the hanging) was done secretly, otherwide some human rights people would have opposed it," she said.
Vishnu Zende, an announcer at the Chhtrapati Shivaji Terminus, the railway station here which was one of the targets of the attack, said, "I had never thought that I would get to hear this news like this.
"I am very happy that he has been hanged. All the people who died in the terror attack have been given tribute by hanging him," Zende, who had helped save many lives by making announcements over the public address system in the station about the strike, said.
Advocate Ujwal Nikam who was the public prosecutor in this case expressed happiness over the move." We have exposed the modus operandi of terror groups operating from Pakistan and sent a message that terrorism will not be tolerated, " Nikam said.
"Yes, Kasab has been hanged this (Wednesday) morning at 7.30 a.m. in Yerawada Central Jail," special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who led the 26/11 terror attacks case, said.
Kasab buried inside Pune jail
Kasab was buried inside the premises of Pune's Yerawada Central jail shortly after he was hanged, Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said on Wednesday.
Maharashtra home minister RR Patil interacts with media regarding the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, Mumbai. PTI
Chavan said Kasab had been shifted from Mumbai to Pune two days ago.
Kasab did not leave behind any will, the chief minister told journalists, adding that he had been buried in the jail premises on the outskirts of Pune.
Ajmal Kasab and nine fellow Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists had sailed into Mumbai on November 26, 2008 from Karachi and gone on a shooting spree that killed 166 people. Kasab was the only one captured alive by security forces.
Kasab was sentenced to death in May 2010 after he was found guilty of a string of charges, including waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts.
He appealed in the Supreme Court claiming he did not receive a fair trial but his petition was struck down in August.
During the 2008 attacks, the heavily armed terrorists stormed targets in Mumbai including luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a hospital and a bustling train station.
India blames the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant organisation for training, equipping and financing the gunmen with support from "elements" in the Pakistan military.
'India should end death penalty'
Hours after Kasab was hanged in Pune, Human Rights Watch urged India to remove the death penalty from its legal framework.
"The hanging of Kasab marks a concerning end to the country's moratorium on capital punishment," said a statement from the US-based rights group issued in India.
"Instead of resorting to the use of execution to address heinous crime, India should join the rising ranks of nations that have taken the decision to remove the death penalty from their legal frameworks," it added.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS)