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Guilty or just plain insane: hang those responsible for 26/11

The death sentence passed on Kasab by Judge Tahaliyani has put me in a moral dilemma. All my life I have been pleading for the abolition of death penalty as it has been abolished in many European democracies and some states of America., writes Khushwant Singh.

india Updated: May 16, 2010 01:02 IST

The death sentence passed on Kasab by Judge Tahaliyani has put me in a moral dilemma. All my life I have been pleading for the abolition of death penalty as it has been abolished in many European democracies and some states of America. Yet when I read what Kasab and his fellow goons had done in Mumbai, I found myself saying “hang the bastards including Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi who instigated them to commit the dastardly murders of over 170 innocent men and women belonging to different nationalities and faiths.”

After some time I cooled down and hoped Kasab’s lawyer would put in a plea of insanity — what he did was an insane thing to do. And Judge Tahaliyani would sentence him to life imprisonment with hard labour in a criminal lunatic asylum. And whatever little he earned by his labour be given to relations of his victims. However, he did not plead insanity and has to pay the ultimate price for committing mass murder. No tears will be shed for him when he mounts the gallows: no tears should be wasted on the elimination of evil men.

The sentence of death remains to be confirmed (or rejected) by the High Court. My guess is that it will be confirmed as Judge Tahaliyani has done a fair and thorough job. I’m not sure if a person found guilty of murder can change his plea of ‘not guilty’ to a plea of ‘insanity’ at the appeal stage. Perhaps not, and Kasab will meet the fate he well deserves.

Another issue which remains to be resolved is punishment to be given to three or four men who along with Hafiz Saeed are in Pakistan. Our government has asked for their extradition to India so that justice can be meted out to them. It can be assumed that the government of Pakistan will not accede to our request as it has so far not even bothered to arrest them. Hafiz Saeed continues to preach jihad against India and no action has been taken against him.

As a result not all the perpetrators of the ghastly crime committed in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 will be punished. We can only pray that when humans fail to discharge their duties, Allah will do so by sending them to burn in the fires of jahennum — hell.

Life in Jitters

I live in one of the four-storeyed blocks in flats with a sizeable lawn in the middle. Most of the residents are well-to-do. Though a handful, including me, have no cars, most others have between one and three each. So thefts of cars was a monthly occurrence. The residents got together and erected two iron gates for entrance and exit and employed guards to patrol the complex. Thereafter no cars were stolen. But their contents remained vulnerable. A few weeks ago in the early hours of the morning when it was still dark, four robbers came and went for the fanciest cars. They smashed the window panes and took away car radios, music systems, stereos and whatever else they could find in them. One sentry had gone to the loo, two were napping in their chairs, one who tried to grapple with the robbers was threatened with a gun put at his head. They got away with the loot. The police came, noted what the sentries had to say and left — not to be seen again. The residents called an emergency meeting, passed a resolution or two asking everyone to be more vigilant. Everyone was on high alert and jittery.

A few evenings later, I had a small farewell party for a friend who was flying off to England the next morning to attend the engagement of her son living in Cardiff to a Gujarati girl. One of my guests Ninia Singh who lives in Noida was 40 minutes late. I was upset and told her to gulp down her drink and leave promptly by 8pm, which is my zero hour for guests. She did. I had my dinner and was reading before retiring for the night. At 9pm Ninia Singh barged in through the servants entrance escorted by two burly Haryanvi policemen. She was fuming with rage and accusing the policemen of using unparliamentary language for her. The policemen very courteously asked me if I knew the lady they had detained. I answered in the affirmative and they left. It was only the next morning I got to know what had transpired.

Ninia Singh drives an old jalopy. She parked it in front of the flat occupied by our family physician, Dr Kalra. He is a very cautious man who ties his car with an iron chain to the grills of his window as if it were a buffalo. He has also persuaded two guards to be seated on the road in front of his flat. The guards had not seen Ninia’s jalopy before. They saw some parcels on the seats. They reported it to Dr Kalra. He, in turn, rang up the police. By the time Ninia got back to the car to return home, they had her open it and unwrap the parcels lest they had explosives. They questioned her in lath-mar Haryanvi. They asked her what she was doing there at that time of the night. I had to save the damsel in distress. That’s how jittery we have become.

In Defence of Shashi
Once a good minister from Madras,
Stated to be of high taste and class,
Was asked to travel economy
He exclaimed: “Why me!
I do not travel in cattle class.


Once a suave but naive minister
Became victim of a situation so sinister
That he was compelled to bow
To the wishes of holy cow;
But on Twitter, his ‘tweet’ he did

A minister was deprived of 5-star
On his mind, it did leave a scar.
Where will be my gym?
Where will I swim?
This is carrying the matter too far.

(Contributed by J K Mathur, Gurgaon)

First Published: May 15, 2010 22:40 IST