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Prison turns into fortress

india Updated: Apr 16, 2009 01:31 IST
Presley Thomas
Presley Thomas
Hindustan Times
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JP Bharucha Road was barricaded — again.

Armed men in khaki restricting the traffic flow and frisking them is not a new experience for the residents.

The area, that had witnessed drama for nearly 14 years when the trial court tried 120 accused in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, was to again witness another such high-profile case — the 26/11 trial.

After nearly two years, Arthur Road jail turned into fortress again. Policemen and Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force personnel kept the media and curious onlookers at bay as they surged ahead in anticipation to catch a glimpse of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone captured Pakistani national who along with nine others wielded AK-47 rifles and lobbed hand grenades to terrorise Mumbai from November 26 to 28, 2008.

And as the clock struck 11 am, Special Judge ML Tahilyani took his seat for the first time in the newly designed courtroom inside the jail.

The proceedings started with the judge directing the media not to publish any representational sketches of the courtroom or the jail for security concerns. And then started the day’s proceedings.

The first to be called into the box was Fahim Ansari’s wife, Yasmin. Ansari, along with his senior counterpart Sabahuddin Ahmed, have been charged for providing logistical support to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, which was put to use by the 10 terrorists during their 60-hour siege in Mumbai.

Judge Tahilyani asked Yasmin if the family could arrange for an advocate to defend her husband. Yasmin replied in the negative and sought a month’s time.

Then came the much awaited moment — the judge directed the accused to be brought into court.

At 11.40 am, as all the three accused, including Kasab wearing blue three-fourth trousers and gray T-shirt entered, reporters and lawyers craned to catch a glimpse of the nation’s most-hated man.

But Kasab was seemingly unperturbed by the occasion as he kept grinning even as submissions were made by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

Kasab seemed to be at ease even as the judge asked him to identify his lawyer or during the afternoon session when he requested the court for an advocate from Pakistan, and again requested for newspapers.