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(Article) CSM - January 2013: Kasab Hanged, Will Terrorism?


Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the Pakistani National and the lone surviving terrorist of 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks, was hanged on 21 November 2012 at Pune’s Yerwada Jail at 7:30 am. The Home Minister of Maharashtra R.R. Patil confirmed that Kasab was hanged. It is quite significant to note that the President Pranab Mukherjee decided to reject Kasab’s mercy plea while 14 other petitions till October 2012 were pending and this also included Parliament attack terrorist- Afzal Guru besides other important names. Kasab was a Pakistani militant and belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group. He was born on 13 July 1987 at Faridkot, Pakistan and is 25 years old. Kasab was found guilty in 80 offences which included murder, possession of explosives, waging a war against India and many more. The Supreme Court of India upheld the death sentence of Kasab on 29 August 2012. The defense lawyers on Kasab’s side are Defense lawyers Amin Solkar, Farhana Shah and Abbas Kazmi. He was hanged five days before the fourth anniversary of the brutal terror attack on Mumbai that claimed 166 lives and sieged Mumbai for continuous three days. In the top-secret operation, the sole surviving terrorist of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab was hanged till death in Yerwada jail, Pune, on 21 November 2012. Kasab had killed 166 people on 26 November 2008 along with 9 other terrorists from Pakistan.

Kasab was the only terrorist who had been captured alive at the scene of the violence. The grainy image of the young man, a gun in his hand and a backpack slung casually over his shoulder, has become an icon of the attack.

Kasab’s death sentence had been pronounced by a lower court in Mumbai in 2008 and was subsequently upheld by the Bombay High Court in 2011 and India’s top court in August 2012. Earlier this month, his mercy plea — his last chance to stay his sentence — was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee. “It was a very somber duty that we had to perform,” Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said in a press briefing “It could have developed into a simmering sore in our country.”

Whether Kasab’s hanging will prove to be such a potent deterrent is a matter of much debate. As the initial cheers faded, India was almost immediately beset with questions of what, apart from a sense of reprisal for the victims and their families, the execution would accomplish. Kasab was among 10 men who carried out attacks on key Mumbai landmarks on Nov. 26, 2008, including two hotels, a railway station and a Jewish center. Many worry that unless the real masterminds of the attack — who are still hiding in neighboring Pakistan — are brought to justice, Kasab’s hanging will achieve precious little. “This man came to die four years ago. His life for the last four years was an in- cidental footnote in the trajectory of international terrorism,” says Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “What he has done and what has been done to him … has no impact whatsoever on the trajectory of terrorism or on the balance of power between the various players, including the nonstate actors and state sponsors.”

Indeed, some say Kasab’s hanging may even invite more violence from terror groups. Within hours of his death, a senior commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks, told Reuters that its former foot soldier is a “hero” whose death will “inspire other fighters to follow his path.”

If the worst were to come to pass, is India better prepared today than it was in 2008 to handle a domestic terrorist attack? At least some in the government, including former Home Minister and current Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, assert that it is not. “Have we done enough to build capacity since the Mumbai terror attacks?” Chidambaram told a gathering of top police officials last year. “The answer is yes and no.” Chidambaram, after he took over as Home Minister following the 2008 attacks, revamped the country’s security architecture by plumping up the police forces, arming them with sophisticated weapons and establishing the National Investigation Agency, a robust investigation bureau aimed at coordinating national efforts against terrorism. “The amount of vulnerability remains the same … The people we are talking about, with their ideologies, the hanging of a man is not going to have any kind of dampening or freezing effect on them because these are people who are willing to die and kill.”

What is Terrorism?

Terrorism is fundamentally an attack on the state. It may be described as an act of violence, committed against innocent people to create fear, with an underlying political motive. This fear is an intended effect and not merely a byproduct of terrorism. Terrorists are therefore criminals and not so-called freedom fighters. International Terrorism has international or trans-national consequences in which terrorists strike targets outside and beyond their country of origin such as the 11th September World Trade Centre attack or the strikes by Pakistan- based outfits in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). International Terrorism also implies that such terrorist groups, e.g. JEI, Al Qaida, etc. have an organisation/ network/ linkage in a number of countries. For instance, we have identified terrorists who are nationals from 16 countries, currently operating in J&K. The question is that if collateral damage and casualties from terrorism are inevitable, should the Government have any qualms about swift and ruthless retaliation?

THERE ARE two root causes for the entire chaos and terrorism in this world. One is the thirst for earning money and the other is the religious fanaticism. Due to money, people are quarrelling, whereas due to religion, countries are quarrelling. Unless these two root causes are eradicated we cannot achieve world peace. The tree will not die by cutting leaves and branches. It dies only by cutting its roots.

There is no use in earning the extra money. Due to excess money, quarrels, mental worries and several other problems arise. Finally, it ends in loss only and not in any profit. You have to leave all this extra money here only and quit this world alone. Your children may lose that money given by you. Such sinful extra money brings problems not only to you but also to your children. Neither you, nor your children will be happy and peaceful. This entire world is the property of God and takes whatever is required from it. This is said in Gita, (“Yavanartha…”).

These days, buffet system is followed during feasts. Large vessels contain various food items and people take food from these vessels according to their requirement. Similarly, God created this entire world and you can take the wealth from it according to your requirement. People are not following the same system when they are taking wealth from this world. The peculiarity is that most rich people follow this buffet system in the feasts but do not follow the same when it comes to earning the money. ‘Esavasya Upanishad’ says that one should return back this extra money to the Lord. Otherwise, the Lord will give the troubles.

In buffet system, if one takes extra food in his plate by over ambition and ignorance for a moment, he returns back immediately before starting eating. Veda says that you must return back the extra money for the God’s work if taken by ignorance. If you enjoy the extra money, God will punish you in several ways.

In this world, people belonging to any religion think that only their religion is the true religion. They think that the God as described in their religion can alone give salvation and the worship of God should be according to their religion only. They also condemn other religions and allure people to convert to their religion. They do lot of work to establish their religion only in the entire world, which shows their ambition. It is just like Alexander’s ambition to make the entire world his kingdom. Alexander wanted to extend his kingdom. But, even he returned back after fighting with Porus (Purushotama) on seeing the loss of life in the battle. But, the ambition of religious fanatics does not subside on seeing any amount of loss of life. Religion is backed by spiritual knowledge and religious people are expected to be free from ambition. We can always excuse ambition of any ignorant person like Alexander.

International terrorism is not a new phenomenon to the world or to India in particular. The 11th September incident has only demonstrated another facet of international terrorism – the tremendous potency of technology and innovation – besides  the globalisation of economies, which have come to transcend national boundaries. Multi-national corporations and non-state players now have a worldwide reach. These  have compromised the authority of the state. Non-state players and black money as well as narcotics trade have acquired power, making some of the terrorist groups (JEI, LTTE & PLO) financially viable and independent. The revolution in information technology (IT) and communication also enables instant transmission of ideas and information at a global level, by the terrorist outfits who can now exploit ‘cyber’ terrorism as well as the deadly and sophisticated Precision-Guided Missiles (PGMs), and other weapons of mass destruction.

The rise of religious fundamentalism has introduced a new ideology which sanctifies ‘Jehad’ (holy war) and ‘Fidayeen’ (suicide) attacks. This exploits the situation of ‘backwardness’ and economic disparity of the frustrated youth of society. Terrorism today, therefore, has been transformed into a transnational, high-tech, lethal and global phenomenon. The response to terrorism needs to be structured accordingly and the decision making process also needs to be modernised.


Long Term Strategy

Following from the above understanding of the nature of international terrorism that faces us today, it is clear that a long-term strategy is required to counter terrorism. It has to be comprehensively addressed on all fronts, political, economic, social and military. This strategy needs to be evolved from our national aims and objectives to protect ‘core values’. These core values are:

Consolidate as a secular, federal democratic state with freedom of speech, equality and justice.
Protect sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Promote socio-economic growth and development.

We must learn from the experience of other nations. However, at the same time, we need to realise clearly that our situation is particular to us and there are no direct lessons to learn except a re-evaluation of our own experience. Our strategy must be realistic and cannot be similar to the US model of worldwide capability or the Israeli strategy of reliance on massive and immediate retaliation, as the respective environment and capabilities are different. While, we can take some useful lessons from the British dealings with the IRA or even the Egyptian policy on eliminating the Jehadis, one principle is clear – that whatever responses we adopt, they must not be ‘knee-jerk’ reactions or evolved in an ad-hoc manner.

Political / Diplomatic Strategy:

International terrorism cannot effectively be fought alone, as has been our experience so far. All nations must join hands to combat it, as is being done for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida. SCR 1373 must not remain on paper, must be applied and the defaulting nations punished.

Pakistan sponsored ‘proxy’ war must be exposed and international pressure applied. We must highlight more aggressively, the justness of our cause and the support to terrorism by Pakistan, both through state and non- tate players, as well as strive to isolate Pakistan in the international community.

A strong message needs to be conveyed to Pakistan, that we mean business, demonstrated by deeds/ actions. All steps to convey this must be implemented such as diplomacy, trade, sports and military. We also need to take all ‘covert measures’ to pay back Pakistan in its own coin, by encouraging internal inadequacies in NWPF, Sind, and along the Durand Line.

Internal Strategy

Our policy of meeting political / economic aspirations has succeeded in many cases through the creation of new states and autonomous councils with limited military containment. However, it has not succeeded where ‘internal support’ has been potent. We, therefore, need to move from a policy of appeasement and accommodation to firm action, before the problem spreads:

Adopt proactive policies to confront the terrorists militarily, and at the roots of terrorist ideology – fundamentalists, social evils and sources of terrorism e.g. narcotics / drug trade. Enact effective anti-terrorist laws and legal framework.

Modernise and enlarge intelligence networks.
Modernise state Police and Para Military Forces in training, equipment and ethos.

Economic Dimension

Spread the fruits of development more evenly throughout the country. Locate some of the Public Sector Units in the remote areas even if they are non-profit making. Put in a greater developmental effort in the remote, weaker sections of society – which, though a stated policy is not visible at present.

Reduce demographic displacement resulting in social / ethnic tension such as in Assam and Tripura, through the joint development of sensitive border belts along Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Enhance our economic and military capabilities so as to widen the gap between India and Pakistan sufficiently, and act as an economic and military deterrence for Pakistan, which would then realise the futility of trying to catch up.

Social Environment

Promote moderate and secular polity by media, intelligentsia and religious institutions. The path of developing a composite culture as already developed in the Armed Forces may serve as a useful role model. Address the outdated education system of Madrassas by quality modernisation and laying down guidelines for uniform syllabii. We cannot continue to recognise religious education such as those in the Madrassas as an entrance-system for universities. Suitable alternatives have to be created.

Upgrade our communication systems so that television and telecommunication spreads to our remote and border areas, which are currently under constant reach of Pakistan propaganda.

There should be realistic psychological and information warfare so that the will of the anti-national elements is suffocated and the hearts of the populace are won.

Military Strategy

We need to clearly spell out our counter terrorism strategy / doctrine. This should tackle the causes and not just the symptoms. I must stress here that J&K is only a symptom of terrorism and NOT the cause. The direction of military strategies should be as under:

  • The aim of military operations should be to create a secure and suitable environment, so that social, economic and political issues can be addressed effectively. Seeking political solutions to accommodate the aspirations without fully eliminating the terrorists, their structure and support bases only results in a ‘fire fighting’ situation and actually prolongs terrorism. This results in enormous costs, militarily and economically.

  • The first step should be to buildup the military forces and their capabilities (which are not adequate currently), and thereafter consolidation of these capabilities and finally destruction of the militants.

  • A reactive response is not the answer. A reorientation of armed response is required so as to launch proactive and specific surgical military operations.

  • An important element of a proactive effort is to increase the costs of proxy war to Pakistan, by undertaking ‘Hot Pursuit Strikes’ across the LoC and into Pakistan- Occupied Kashmir (POK).

  • The evolution of a superior Intelligence System is imperative. This should encompass human, technical, electronic intelligence, as also modernisation of data processing and dissemination – both external and internal.

  • Effective surveillance and management of the borders to check infiltration (International Border/ Line of Control), is also necessary. This should be achieved through technical means of surveillance, backed by highly mobile,
    specialised forces as ‘Reaction capability’ rather than the present system, which is manpower intensive.

  • Foreign-based terrorists have to be hit at their bases, training camps and sanctuaries to end the surrogate terrorism or the proxy war by Pakistan. We have to create the means and the will to do this. Special Forces both overt and covert, need to be employed for this task.

  • Imaginative security of our vital installations, nuclear assets and airports. Static posts or piquets are not the answer. Electronic sensors and effective intelligence is the need.

  • Preventive measures against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) and cyber-terrorism.

  • The Army is the ultimate weapon of the state and its over-employ  ment affects its operational role. The Police and the Para-military should normally handle the internal security. However, they are incapable of fighting a proxy war such as in J&K unless their capabilities are upgraded.

Ajmal Kasab’s Execution Chronology

  • 26 November 2008- Kasab as well as 9 terrorists launched a commando raid in Mumbai
  • 27 November 2008- Kasab caught and arrested
  • 30 November 2008- Kasab confessed before police
  • 16 January 2009- Arthur Road Jail selected for trial of Kasab
  • 20/21 February 2009- Kasab confessed before the magistrate
  • 22 February 2009- Ujjwal Nikam appointed as the Special Public Prosecutor
  • 20 April 2009- Prosecution charged Kasab on 312 counts
  • 6 May 2009- Kasab was awarded death sentence by the trial court
  • 21 February 2011- Bombay High Court upheld the decision of the trial court
  • March 2011- Kasab wrote to Supreme Court challenging high court’ s decision
  • 10 October 2011- Supreme Court stayed execution of the death sentence
  • 25 April 2012- Supreme Court reserved its verdict after going through a lot of hearing over two and a half months
  • 16 October 2012- Union Home Ministry recommended to president for rejecting mercy plea of Kasab
  • 5 November 2012- President rejected mercy petition of Kasab
  • 8 November 2012- Maharashtra Government was informed about the decision of President
  • 21 November 2012- Kasab was hanged at 7.30 A.M. in Yerwada Jail, Pune

The heart of a religious fanatic will not change by any amount of kindness or love expressed in the appeals. Such appeals can only change the heart for a short while. Change in intelligence brought by knowledge based on logic is always real and permanent. Intelligence (Buddhi) is considered to be the driver of this body, which is like a chariot running by the senses, which are like the horses. If the driver is convinced, the entire chariot along with the horses is in the correct path. The terrorist will not change by love or kindness shown to him. He becomes the terrorist due to the wrong knowledge that enters his brain. He was convinced by that knowledge. That knowledge can be changed only by the right knowledge. A diamond can only be cut by another diamond. Similarly, one type of knowledge can only be replaced by another type of knowledge. Then only, he will be convinced and changed forever. So far, the trials made to change the terrorist are like beating around the bush and therefore, they do not have much effect.

Pankaj Kumar