Death brings peace; but to the person who dies; not for those left behind, for they shall live in the continuing grief of having lost their loved ones.
The execution of Ajmal Kasab the lone terrorist caught in November 2008 will definitely bring a sense of closure for India as a nation. But for the families, who lost their loved ones as a result of his and his terror-mates mindless act of violence, those fateful days in Mumbai will remain agonisingly entrenched for the rest of their lives.
The alacrity with which the government acted and the secrecy with which the operation was carried out needs to be applauded. It shows that India has the astuteness to be definite in its action. But at the same time it cannot be denied that executing Kasab was the easiest thing.
As India rejoiced at the morning news, the real credit goes to men like Eknath Omble and Sandeep Unnikrishnan and the several others who went down fighting him and his terror mates. The joy and credit also belongs to those men and women like Vishnu Zende (the public announcer at CST station), the Times of India photographers and several others who held their nerves in the line for duty on that tumultuous day of November. It is their actions that saved Mumbai further ordeal and created an open and shut case against Kasab.
As K. Unnikrishnan, father of slain NSG Commando Sandeep Unnikrishnan says, “It is totally wrong to celebrate anyone’s death…There is a long way to go for the sense of closure…Kasab’s execution is only one chapter. The perpetrators are still moving around in Pakistan.”
What will the execution of Kasab mean for India’s relations with Pakistan?
Considering the strong emotions involved, any reprieve for Kasab was out of question. The execution by itself would therefore not have come as a big surprise for the Pakistani establishment or its people. Thankfully, the squabbling this time has been limited to the technicalities of official communication processes. India claims that Pakistan refused to accept the letter informing them about the execution and therefore had to communicate the information through fax. Pakistan, on the other hand, came out with a statement asserting that it had “received that note and acknowledged its receipt.”
Although Pakistan has accepted that Kasab was its citizen, it sought to downplay the execution. A Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson stated that Pakistan, “condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestation.” He said his country was “willing to cooperate and work closely with all countries of the region to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.” Indian External Affairs minister, Salman Khurshid, on the other hand hoped that Pakistan would expedite action against the plotters of the 26/11 attack.
The immediate implication of the execution has been the cancellation of visit to India by Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik which was proposed for November 22 to 23 to put into operation a new Indo-Pak visa regime. A step towards better ties with Pakistan has thus suffered, but no one in India will complain. At best it is only being seen as a “passing blip in the peace process.”
The process of law followed in the case of Kasab does provide India a moral high ground. At the same time the quick and top secret operation means that Indians were saved of the harrowing debate on the morals of death penalty. It saved the nation the trauma of a “right” versus “wrong” debate and (as the Times of India in its editorial pointed out) the risk of a Kandhar –like crisis.
And what does the execution of Kasab mean for India’s fight against terror?
Sadly, it means nothing much. The Lashkar has already described Kasab as a “hero” and claimed that in his death he “will inspire other fighters to follow his path”.
Hope India’s heightened vigil will save us the ordeal of another attack or we will be left as sitting ducks to suffer at the hands of some religious bigots conspiring against peace from among our midst or from across the border.