"Hang Kasab in public."
"I want to slap him once."
“We should celebrate when he breathes his last.”
These were reactions from people who encountered Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab on November 26, 2008, but lived to see him being sentenced to death.
Chandrakant Tikhe, Cama Hospital’s lift operator whom Kasab and his ‘buddy’ Abu Ismail had used as a human shield to save themselves from the police’s bullets, felt hanging Kasab in prison was not enough.
“He should be hanged at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in front of all the victims and their families,” said the 50-year-old. “We are suffering so much because of him. Each one of us should get a chance to flog him.”
Tikhe had come face-to-face with Kasab and Ismail when they stormed into the hospital on the night of the attacks. He told the terrorists that there was no one on the hospital’s terrace and saved 25 staffers who were hiding there.
Tikhe had suffered injuries in the cross firing between the police and terrorists. Two splinters from a hand grenade are still lodged in his neck.
“My right arm hurts a lot. I can hardly use it. It is difficult to even lift a bag of vegetables,” Tikhe said.
Karuna Waghela, who was widowed when Kasab and Ismail shot her husband, Thakur Waghela, outside their home in the Rang Bhawan lane that night, called Kasab a “demon”.
“I want to meet Kasab once to slap him before he gets hanged,” she said. “He should not even get chance to live one day now. He should be hanged as soon as possible.”
Karuna, who works as a sweeper at JJ Hospital, Byculla, is struggling to make ends meet. The family had stopped watching television because Kasab’s pictures would frighten her son, Yash.
“I had not switched television all these days, but today I wanted to see him getting the death sentence,” said Karuna, who now lives in Sion. “Since Yash got to know of Kasab’s verdict, he thinks his father will come back.”
At Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel distributed cream biscuits to commuters to celebrate the sentence.
“I was in court when the judgement was announced. I was happy to see Kasab’s sullen face,” said Inspector S. Kirtikar.
Kirtikar and his team fought Kasab and Ismail when they went around killing hapless commuters at the station. “We should have a grand celebration when Kasab breathes his last,” said K. Bhosale, an RPF personnel.
Railway announcer, V. Zende, who alerted commuters about the firing that night and saved many lives, welcomed the judgement.
“When Kasab was caught I wanted him to be given maximum punishment and am happy it has happened,” said Zende, who escaped bullets although the terrorists fired at his cabin.
Commuters also appreciated the judgement. “We have proved that India is not a soft state and can give a fitting reply to terrorists,” said S. Date, a commuter.
Mohammed Toufiq Shaikh (28), a tea vendor at CST who survived the attack, celebrated the sentencing by distributing free tea.
“I am happy that I at least made an attempt to save lives and called the helpline number,” Shaikh said.
His unique way of remembering the helpline number 9833331111 came in handy that night. “It’s 98, followed by a combination of four 3s and four aces, like in a pack of cards.”