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Thirteen years ago, on this day, 10 terrorists from Pakistan began bloodbath in Mumbai, which was shell-shocked for four days. More than 165 people lost their lives. One of the 10 terrorists, identified as Ajmal Kasab, was captured alive. He was from Pakistan’s Faridkot district.

Ajmal Kasab was captured on the night of November 26 itself. He was injured and was given medical treatment to ensure that he stayed alive. He was questioned in police custody for 81 days, during which he revealed how the 26/11 terror attack was planned in Pakistan. It was a handiwork of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba and managed and supervised by the Pakistan Army’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

DEATH TO KASAB

A court trial commenced in India in February 2009. Ajmal Kasab was provided with a lawyer changed twice during trial to argue his case. Ajmal Kasab was charged on 312 counts. In May 2010, the trial court found him guilty of 80 offences related to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

Ajmal Kasab was awarded the death penalty, which was upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. By the time the Kasab trial finished in India, it was mid-October 2012.

He availed himself of his last legal recourse of pleading mercy to the President, who rejected the petition in November that year. Ajmal Kasab’s death sentence was carried out on November 21, 2012.

Among other things that Ajmal Kasab told his investigators and the courts were: “Aap jeet gaye, main haar gaya [you won, I lost]” and “I was brainwashed like a robot to commit the heinous crime in the name of God”.

TRIAL IN PAKISTAN

Parallel to the trial in India, a separate 26/11 trial began in Pakistan as an official testimony of the government there that the Mumbai attack was planned in that country. The trial started in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, but the case never progressed in any logical direction.

After it was established that the Lashkar-e-Taiba with its front Jamaat-ud-Dawa was behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the trial was supposed to bring its founder Hafiz Saeed and co-founder Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi to justice. They are considered the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack.

THE MASTERMINDS

Hafiz Saeed has long evaded the law in Pakistan despite international concern expressed against his free-wheeling activities across the country. His role had come to the fore even in the 2001 Parliament attack in Delhi and the 2006 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was, in fact, arrested under international pressure only days after 26/11 by the Pakistani authorities. But he was never convicted. He was granted bail in 2015.

The pressure on Pakistan to act against both Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi increased in 2018 after the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) upped its ante against Pakistan over terror funding.

Hafiz Saeed was subsequently booked for money laundering and convicted in 2020 by a Pakistani court. He was given a 15-year sentence.

Lakhvi was convicted for financial irregularities in a medical dispensary case in January 2021. He was given a three-year jail term. None of them was brought to justice for the terror attack in Mumbai.

PAKISTAN’S ESCAPE ROUTE

Pakistan has blamed India for no progress in the case. Its premise has been two-fold: rejecting the dossiers sent by India and demanding the deposition of 24 Indian witnesses in Pakistan’s court.

Pakistan has argued that India’s dossiers don’t hold legal value in its court. Thus, it rejected the evidence that Indian agencies gathered investigating the 26/11 terror attack.

India has refused the demand for physical deposition of Indian citizens in Pakistan, citing a threat to their lives. India asked Pakistan to interview them in India. Two teams from Pakistan came to India in 2012 and 2013. But even those visits were not enough.

The 26/11 trial in Pakistan remains stalled. Both prime accused, held responsible for the death of more than 160 persons, including 20 security personnel and 26 foreign nationals, died.

However, in the US, David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American who had done a recce of the targets in Mumbai for Lashkar-e-Taiba, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 35 years in jail.

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