Extinguished

Tags: Opinion
For a man who came under the global spotlight by being the only one to come out alive among the 20/11 Mumbai attackers, Ajmal Kasab’s death came very quietly, unbeknownst to the world.

Whether or not he went to ‘jannat’ will forever be a matter of debate, just as whether India has won the war against terror will continue to reverberate through news channel studios.

There was cheer and jubilation in Mumbai after the news of his hanging in Yerwada jail in Pune broke. It would surely be galling for him, wherever he is now, that his home country and its government mostly ignored his execution.

The fact that Islamic terror groups in Pakistan have vowed revenge can offer no solace to a dead man. But in the inverted world of terror, he may be seen as a martyr who has gone straight to paradise from the gallows.

For all the noise and news the 22-year-old man from a landless peasant family in Pakistan created, his final day passed quickly, away from prying eyes.

His final journey to Yerwada jail had to be carried out stealthily. For India, the fear of terrorists counting a rescue act was compounded by anti-capital punishment cries of activists, especially from countries that have abolished the extreme punishment.

Any leak of the moves that Maharashtra government was taking to carry out the execution would have enormously complicated the task of delivering punishment.

Kasab and his fellow terrorists transformed India into a country consumed by fear and an obsession with security. Hanging Kasab may not have changed this. If anything, the fear of retribution by other terror groups has accentuated.

For now, however, the hanging has quieted even liberal humanists: they have refrained from commenting online on matters of life and death penalty and mercy.

The prayer on every pair of sane lips is that the hanging does not give birth to more Kasabs from the poorer corners of the world.

Yet the man with a jihadi mission hardly understood what jihad is all about. He wanted to escape from the insecurities of a marginal life devoid of any kind of meaning or happiness.

Kasab had embraced a distorted view of jihad that gave him the sense of purpose and acceptance that ordinary life had eluded him. The act of terrorism was for him a journey to paradise.

Kasab was born to Amir Shahban Kasab and Noor Illahi in the Okara district of Punjab, Pakistan. His father is a dahi puri vendor; his elder brother Afzal works as a labourer in Lahore; his elder sister Rukaiyya Husain is married and still lives in the village.

A younger sister Suraiyya and another brother Munir live in Faridkot with their parents. The family belongs to the Qassab community. On December 21, 2007, when Kasab was in Rawalpindi trying to buy weapons, he met members of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah, the political wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), distributing pamphlets. That was a life changing moment for him. He decided to sign up for training with LeT — a life extinguished it its prime.

meghnamaiti@mydigitalfc.com

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