Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam (55) is a relieved man these days. On the eve of sole surviving terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab’s sentencing, the Jalgaon-based lawyer told Hindustan Times that he was confident that the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative would get maximum sentence — two counts of death for both conspiring to maim innocents in India and waging war against the nation.
How do you sum up your experience of the 26/11 trial?
This case was a challenge for me – not only because of the involvement of the LeT hitman Ajmal Kasab, but because it also involved exposing a larger plot of the conspiracy hatched in Pakistan. Since the beginning, I had decided to rely on Kasab’s judicial confession, intercepted telephonic conversations between the attackers and their Pakistani handlers and evidence from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
What would you say about the verdict?
I am happy with the court order as far as Kasab is concerned. That is not only because we could establish Kasab’s guilt, but also because the entire conspiracy of the attacks, the entire plot hatched in Pakistan was exposed. The special court has accepted all our contentions and has now given a judicial finding about the Pakistani link. It is unfortunate that the court acquitted Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed. But this is not the final verdict. We will challenge their acquittal. We have a fair chance of getting the acquittal reversed.
What about the quantum of punishment for Kasab? Will it add to your list of 37 death sentences or 627 life imprisonments?
I am confident that Kasab’s case is a fit case for attracting the death sentence for conspiring to attack and kill innocent persons in India, and waging war against the nation.
Did the trial not take a toll on your personal life?
I could hardly spare time for my family. I had to give up four other cases for this trial. Preparing for next day’s hearing, compiling documents, and holding discussions with police officers was physically taxing. But I never felt mentally tired. Somewhere some common man would wish me good luck and boost my morale. Such incidences would take my fatigue away and give me emotional strength.