When my cell phone rang a few minutes after 8.00 a.m. today, I was surprised to see the call was from Mr. K. Unnikrishnan, father of the late Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Ashoka Chakra. He said ” Have you seen the television today? They have just hung Kasab.” We spoke briefly and I told him that at last something that most in India were waiting for had finally happened. Ajmal Kasab the only terrorist to be nabbed alive after the infamous November 26, 2008 attacks on Mumbai had met with his end. Finally, the hangman called. He was hanged at 7.30 a.m at the Yerwada Prison in Pune.We had met just yesterday to finalize details of the book launch for my fiction thriller, “Lucky For Some, 13” on December 1, 2012. The main character in this story is an officer in India’s National Security Guard. Out of respect for the force and the gallantry shown by Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, I had so wanted his parents to be the Guests of Honour at my book launch. Mr. Unnikrishnan had graciously accepted my invitation.
He is one the most simple and principled men I have met in all my life. Forthright and direct, he does not mince words and calls a spade a spade. What impressed me tremendously was his sense of duty, his unquestionable integrity and his courage in the face of such a tragedy that had taken away his only son, aged 31, in the prime of life. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s valour in the Operation Black Thunder to rid the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai of terrorists holed up there is too well-known to be repeated here.
The whole country erupted in celebration today. Many felt the Government of India had finally acted nearly four years to the day of the worst day in India’s history in its fight against terror.
The media as usual asked the relatives of the martyrs whether they felt a sense of closure with the hanging of Kasab. Most of them said they felt partly satisfied that he had finally got what he deserved but the main perpetrators of the terror plot still remained safe and untouched. It is common knowledge that the terror plot was hatched and executed based on massive support from some in Pakistan.
No one can describe how much a personal loss the death of a near and dear one can be to their families, especially when the 166 who died in those three days in Mumbai were innocents. Some like Major Unnikrishnan were killed carrying out their professional duties in the highest traditions of their service.
What next? Does the hanging of Kasab bring the tragic story to an end? Those who oppose hanging as capital punishment argue that hanging terrorists does not solve terrorism. That may be true but not hanging them does not solve terrorism either. it’s not that capital punishment alone breeds a new wave of terrorists, who would have emerged in any case. The fact that a country can be tough with terrorists does definitely act as a deterrent. If nothing else, it reinforces to its own people as well as others that the Government means business in protecting its national interests.
I read with interest this excellent article, “Terror Beyond Kasab” on the real issues by Minhaz Merchant. We need to be on our guard. Constantly.