Well, the day has finally arrived. After 4 years of political leg-pulling and rhetoric, Ajmal Kasab the lone terrorist survivor of the 26/11 Mumbai attack, has been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India. Apart from the death sentence the verdict also establishes that India officially accepts the fact that the plan for the attack was hatched in Pakistan, and it would be of common benefit if our north-western neighbour co-operates to bring to book all the perpetrators as soon as possible. Our politicians are quite happy with the verdict because something positive about the system has finally come out and the aam aadmi, tired of scams, scandals and porn-stars in mainstream cinema, is jubilant that they have something to believe in finally.
But the deeper fact remains that, Ajmal Kasab is more of a robot- a certain brainwashed, misguided and ill-informed humanoid- who was just one of the small pawns in the game. A robot who had been engineered to kill, indoctrinated to false tenants of his own religion; who doesn’t know a single verse from the Koran, yet is convinced that he had killed for Jihad. Reading the events of his life, you can easily figure out that Kasab belongs to a certain uneducated, poor and unemployed strata of Pakistani society which has been continuously dragged into terrorist organisations, most probably seduced by the conformity of achieving a goal in life through this.
The most important question that we Indians should ask ourselves at this point, when our politicians and media have created such a hype about the death sentence, is that whether this verdict of capital punishment, executed now or thirty years later, gives any reason for us to be happy? What are we actually jubilant about? Is it that a mindless psychotic mass-killer is going to the gallows? Or is it that this verdict completely seals the future of a terror free India- just like Dhananjoy Chatterjee’s hanging in Kolkata in 2004 has stopped all rapes in the country? Or are we happy because this verdict is going to send a strong message across the world conveying how strong India is on its anti-terrorism stance?
The culmination of this legal case of such extraordinary magnitude and grave circumstances in a death penalty is not something out of the blue. But the sad part is that the reactions from our politicians and political parties, starting from the calls of a certain saffron party to hang Kasab publicly to another rejoicing the end of biriyani for him, just shows how superficial our political system is. The system wants us to believe that hanging one man is our answer to that unbelievable incident in Mumbai. And what about the millions of poor and misguided youths in Pakistan, in India, all over the world, who fall prey to the malicious sleight of politics, power and greed, and will continue to become Kasabs and Abu Jindals. Someone pulls the string in some distant land, and some puppets dance in illusion. And that dance kills millions of innocents.
May be our politicians know that they can never undertake that gargantuan task of creating a beautiful tomorrow breaking the shackles of inequality, exploitation and immorality. So the system as a whole manufactures certain farces for us to believe in and be content with. May be because of that just after the Coalgate scandal comes up Kasab’s hanging verdict, and we the foolish credulous Indians, forgetting the 186,000 crore where corporate crocodiles with political alliances have sucked dry the country’s resources and economy, will soon be rejoicing at the hanging of a single man. May be because of that we will always remember how gruesome 26/11 was and how boldly it was avenged by the country, forgetting the facts that, “Food inflation in double digits. Vegetable prices rising 60 per cent in a year. Child malnourishment doubles that of sub-Saharan Africa. Families cutting back sharply on milk and essentials. Massive increases in health costs bankrupting millions. Farmers unable to afford inputs or access credit. A drinking water scarcity for many, as more and more of that life-giving substance gets diverted for other purposes.” (P. Sainath, The Hindu)
May be this kind of living on farces and make believe stories have become just a part of our lives- that’s why people who have all their lives insulted people from the NE states as chinkis suddenly threw open their arms to embrace Mary Kom and her success, may be that is why the alibi of prosperous industrial development successfully covers up the acts of a mass-murdering Chief Minister, and may be that is why every middle class child has to sacrifice his or her childhood dreams and join in a dream-chasing dash for securing a bright career in this doomed country.
But yes, there are things we should be happy about. We should be happy about the importance of the Kasab verdict from an international and strategic point of view. And we should be more happy I think, on the fact that on the same day as the Kasab verdict came out, a special court in Gujarat convicted former BJP minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet Mayaben Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, who reportedly felt like Maharana Pratap after massacring Muslims, in one of worst episodes of the post-Godhra riots- the Naroda Patiya massacre.
Ajmal Kasab should be hanged (although the debate on capital punishment continues) following the judgement of the highest judicial authority of the country. But let’s not act as if the country can attain Moksha by this, please. There are far more deadly wounds to be healed, grotesque crimes to be solved, and strong acts of justice to be affirmed; and along with this we need long term pro-people financial and educational plans for the overall development of the nation. Only then can our democracy achieve what it should.
Photographs courtesy: 1. Reuters 2. AFP 3. Arko Dutta
Abhishek Saha, a final year Civil Engineering student at Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, is a freelance writer and photographer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.