Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil was the man everybody was seeking at Mantralaya on Thursday. He welcomed the death sentence for Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only terrorist captured alive during 26/11, and said the state government would ensure that the execution process is speeded up. It was Patil who, in 2008 was at the receiving end after 26/11, and had lost his job as home minister. Here is the excerpt of his interview:
What is your reaction to the sentence?
I welcome it. It will act as a deterrent for those who think India is a soft target. It gives out a positive message that our judicial system is capable of delivering strong judgements. It is also justice for the policemen and citizens who lost their lives during the attacks. All charges against Kasab were proved. If there could have been a greater punishment than hanging, he should have been given that too.
What about his co-conspirators in Pakistan?
Since his involvement has been proved, we will approach the Central Government to ask Pakistan to hand over the 20 co-conspirators who have been found equally guilty. We also expect international pressure on Pakistan so that those who planned the attacks are held.
What is the government doing about the acquittals of Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed?
I discussed this with the public prosecutor. He feels we should appeal. We will initiate the procedure soon.
Several convicts have been awarded death but are yet to be executed. Will the government take steps to speed up Kasab’s execution process?
The procedure from prosecution till delivery of punishment is very time-consuming. We first need to get confirmation of the sentence from the high court and then the Supreme Court. And then, there might be a presidential sanction if Kasab explores the option. To avoid this, we plan to request the Centre for a fast-track procedure in this case.
What was the cost incurred to protect Kasab?
There was no specific cost, apart from the amount spent on a special enclosure for him. The enclosure can be used later for other convicts, so there is no special expenditure on him. Also, the guards outside his cell were only protecting not just him, but also other inmates.