Wins & Losses
He couldn’t be hanged because the Indian judicial system abhorred the death penalty… Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab (July 13, 1987-November 21, 2012) – the Pakistani terrorist and a member of the Lashkar-e-Toiba terror outfit who took part in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks – believed so. Only a day before his execution, he realised that he was wrong.
On that day, Ramesh Mahale – the Chief Investigator of the 26/11 terror attack who headed Mumbai’s Crime Branch Unit 1 in 2008 – brought Kasab from Arthur Road Jail to Yerwada Jail in Pune. Mahale, who retired in 2013, recently told the ‘Hindustan Times’ daily that it was the first time when he felt the ‘death’. “Aap jeet gaye, main har gaya (you won, I lost),” Kasab – the only attacker captured alive by the Indian police – told the chief investigator. Mahale claimed that those were the Pak teenager’s last words. After that, he said nothing! The retired police inspector – who interrogated the terrorist for four years – has revealed such facts.
During the 26/11 terror attack in 2008, Mahale was the Chief of Mumbai Police, as well as Chief Investigating Officer of the case. As the Crime Branch of Mumbai Police got the custody of Kasab after his detention, the terrorist was shifted to a specially-made, bulletproof and high security cell in Arthur Road Jail where he spent 81 days. Mahale used to visit Kasab on a regular basis for almost four years. The seasoned police officer has admitted that the young Pakistani prisoner tried to perturb him by making self-contradictory comments. After spending one-and-half months in Arthur Road Jail, he had said that the Indian judiciary couldn’t hang him. “I was having a conversation with Kasab when he said though he could be hanged for his crime, it wouldn’t happen because the Indian justice system abhorred the death penalty,” said Mahale. Kasab had also given him the example of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, insisting: “He hasn’t been hanged even eight years after the Indian courts pronounced his death sentence.”
Mahale told the leading English-language daily that the 17-year-old was highly intelligent and after their first meeting, he realised that Kasab was a tough nut to crack. So, he decided to develop a friendship with the terrorist. “We made Kasab feel comfortable and easy and waited for him to break on his own,” stressed the retired police officer, who had given Kasab two new outfits.
According to Mahale, Kasab tried to mislead the investigating officers a number of times. While recording his statement in court, he said that his arrest was a conspiracy. “Kasab told the court that he was a Pakistani national who came to Mumbai on a valid visa to catch a glimpse of (famous Indian actor) Amitabh Bachchan. He said he was standing outside the actor’s Juhu bungalow when sleuths from Research and Analysis Wing (RAW – the foreign intelligence agency of India) picked him up and handed him over to the Mumbai Police. The cops … shot him in the arm before putting him in lock up. Four days later, they (police) fixed him in the 26/11 case,” the former Chief of Mumbai Police told the Indian daily.
Kasab was found guilty of waging war and was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India on August 29, 2012. The Indian government fixed November 21 as the date for the execution and faxed its decision to the Pakistani Foreign Office. On the night of November 18-19, a senior prison official at Arthur Road Jail read Kasab’s death warrant to him and also informed him that his petition for clemency had been rejected by then President of India Pranab Mukherjee. When Kasab was asked to sign his death warrant, he did. Later, Mahale secretly transferred him under heavy guard to Yerwada Jail in Pune. “Throughout the journey from Mumbai to Pune, he did not cause any trouble. Kasab’s attitude was of resignation when he came to know that his mercy petition was rejected by the Indian president. Kasab did not shed a single tear during the last few days,” insisted the police officer.
Before leaving the Yerwada Jail, Mahale reminded Kasab how he had been certain he’d evade the death penalty, saying: “Yaad hai? Char saal bhi nahin hua. Ab aur saat din baki hai (Remember what you said? It hasn’t even been four years. There’s still a week left).” In reply, Kasab – who had never given straight answers to investigators’ questions – said: “Aap jit gaye, main har gaya (you won, I lost).” “The exuberance and confidence in him had been replaced by the fear of death,” recalled Mahale.
Kasab’s death marked the end of an association (between the two) that lasted for four years!
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