So Kasab’s been executed, finally. Phew! Were you among those who feared he might never actually face the gallows? Well, I surely was. And why shouldn’t I be? After all, we still have Mr. Afzal Guru telling us that you can attack our country, be sentenced to death by none other than the SC, and still be alive more than six years after the passing of the decided date of execution.
People say Kasab’s death should not be rejoiced, of course, that would be ridiculous for a civilized nation. But I think more than rejoicing, we’re only heaving a collective sigh of relief that, at long last, a mass murderer, a terrorist, has met his deserved end. Yes, deserved.
The event brings us right back to the raging debate surrounding capital punishment. Having done extensive research on the subject, I’m still in two minds whether capital punishment should be carried out at all. But indeed, when I look at cases like Kasab, I can’t help but rule in favour of it. The naysayers, the so called harbingers of humanity, would put up the most universally bought argument, that humans don’t possess the right to take another one’s life. Indeed this argument has lots of substance to it. However, the very use of the term capital punishment entails a great deal of fair and independent judicial heartburn behind it. Of course, the argument could be that it comes loaded with that ever so slight margin of human error, but then, what doesn’t? Capital punishment does not mean that a civil society suddenly turns so barbaric as to force death down the threat of another fellow being, it only means that in spite of long and thoughtful attempts to find a way to NOT kill another man, the crime committed by the man was so brazenly heinous, that the collective conscience of the society comes to the saddening conclusion that indeed, death is the only solution. This is precisely what the SC means by the ‘rarest of rare’ dictum.
This painstaking weighing of facts and evidences is well brought out by the Kasab case, where he was tried for over 4 years in spite of having been caught on camera parading the streets of Mumbai, proudly killing people in the name of Allah. We, as a nation, should be proud that such an exemplary trial was carried out for a man who waged war against the nation and killed its innocent sons and daughters.
Some of my esteemed colleagues have been so deeply moved by Kasab’s last words that they’ve gone to the extent of calling him a reformed man who should never have been executed. Really? Isn’t it more tenable to owe his last words to the fear of death and divine punishment that he must have so clearly feared in his last moments? Wasn’t he being purely selfish by asking for mercy in the name of Allah, the same God whose name he so proudly and wrongly proclaimed while pumping bullets into innocents’ chests? Did years of incarceration reform Masood Azhar? Or has he struck back to kill perhaps thousands of Indians in the years gone by? Few know that a certain Dhananjoy Chatterjee pleaded innocence right till his last moment. So does that mean we let go a murderer, a rapist, and perhaps even a necrophile?
Arguments that Kasab’s death will not serve to allay the pain of the kin of those who died during the Mumbai attacks have also been brought up. Well, it must be a mere coincidence that none of the voices seem to belong to those in question.
Then there’s this oft quoted “Punish the crime, not the criminal”, which always seems to fit the bill whenever capital punishment is carried out. And how exactly do you intend to punish the crime? By educating the likes of Kasab that killing hundreds of people in the name of religion is a sin? Hmm..sounds very effective to me. Or maybe by releasing a handful of terrorists, oops, misled people with the potential to reform, whenever a plane is hijacked?
Aside from the legal and philosophical debate, the fact that capital punishment has been carried out in such a fine manner sends a very strong and comforting signal to both Indians and the international community alike. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell laughed at Norway when I saw Anders Breivik striking an awe inspiring pose giving the phantasmagoric Nazi salute. I am just relieved that our brothers across the border haven’t had a chance to do that, though Afzal Guru still needs to answer his final calling.
I have nothing against those who condemn Kasab’s execution. They do make for a very compelling argument indeed. But I wonder if they’d stood firm on their views if they’d lost someone dear to his bullets. If there are any tears, they should not flow for Kasab, but for the fact that evil men like him still exist, and that sometimes civil people have to pay them back in the same coin.As long as the likes of Kasab breathe, capital punishment must not be allowed to stifle to its death. The need of the hour is to realize that the country faces a grave danger from both within and outside, and to take care of perpetrators of such ghastly crimes, we bloody well NEED capital punishment. It’s nothing to be proud of. In fact, I would say it’s nothing short of a necessary evil, but necessary it IS.