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We don’t need him now

The 35-year jail sentence given to Headley should satisfy our desire for justice, Ipsit Mohapatra writes.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2013 23:00 IST
Ipsit Mohapatra

The US has jailed David Coleman Headley aka Daood Gilani for 35 years, but India is not happy. We want him extradited. To do what? At least, the US has nailed its Daood. Our Dawood (Ibrahim Kaskar) is sitting pretty in Pakistan. Of course, our neighbour denies harbouring him.

What’s more, we are still waiting to see how Abu Salem, the one we managed to get extradited from Portugal in 2005, is brought to book in the true sense. The clemency decision on 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru is also hanging fire. Crime is crime is crime, but given the severity of the offences of all the people named above, we are justifiably seething with rage. But spare a thought for the hundreds and thousands of victims of crimes in India who wait for justice.

Some get justice after nearly two dec-ades (judgement in the mass rape and torture of Vachathi tribals in Tamil Nadu in 1992 came in 2011), while many others unfortunate enough to be trapped in the tortuous maze often pray more for deliverance than justice. We uphold our justice system, but the pace at which it operates does give the feeling that something is not quite right.

The prison term for Headley is a veritable death sentence, duly noted by the judge, who hoped “it will keep Mr Headley under lock and key for the rest of his natural life”. For the sake of argument, assume we do get Headley. His trial begins and we depute our security men to give him round-the clock security, à la Ajmal Kasab, at great cost to the exchequer. The media is kept gainfully occupied. For those on the outside, the families of the 166 butchered in the Mumbai attacks, aided by Headley’s recce skills, get a sense of closure when the court delivers its judgement. Is it that simple? Can there ever be a sense of closure for such a loss?

It is better to make peace with the fact that the US is not going to give Headley up. Talk, which might never be confirmed or denied, that Headley had served American interests before turning rogue, point to the wheels within wheels of international power play. In national interest, every country exercises its right to doublespeak and hypocrisy. We are no different.

If we want justice for 26/11, it would serve us better to go after his handlers in Pakistan. One of the key conspirators, Hafiz Saeed, is again making headlines for mangling the context of a Shah Rukh Khan interview and extending to him an invitation to stay in Pakistan. The heart says nail Saeed and the other kingpins Israel-style. The head, however, knows, India won’t because that’s just not us.