Pune, Nov 21: Around 220 activists, lawyers and educationists had recently urged President Pranab Mukherjee to commute the death sentence that was awarded to 26/11 convict Ajmal Amir Kasab by the trial court in May 2010 and executed at the Yerwada Central Jail here today morning.
Yug Chaudhry, an advocate in Mumbai, sent a petition on Oct 28 and appealed to the President to pardon Kasab who along with nine of his associates was trained by the Lashkar-e-Taiba to carry out the deadliest terror attacks in India's financial capital four years ago.
Pointing out to the President that "203 citizens of India" had signed his petition, Chaudhry said, "I would therefore request you on behalf of all those citizens who have endorsed this mercy petition to exercise your prerogative of mercy in favour of Md Ajmal Kasab and commute his death sentence to one of life imprisonment."
Chaudhry stressed that "it is wrong and immoral to kill a human being by way of revenge or punishment. Executing Kasab in the name of the Indian people will only feed a base blood lust that will make our society more bloodthirsty, vengeful and violent."
Chaudhry suggested that by granting mercy to Kasab, the President would be giving him the opportunity to make amends for his sins. "... keeping Kasab in jail for the rest of his life and treating him like a human being allows for the possibility of him regaining his humanity, repenting his crime and atoning for the harm he has caused. That would indeed be a big victory in our battle against terrorism," Chaudhry wrote.
He averred that Indians as a whole would not be safer or better off in any way if Kasab was hanged. "In the land of Buddha, Mahavira and Gandhiji, let it not be said that there is no place left in our hearts for mercy or that the national conscience can only be satisfied by the killing of Kasab," Chaudhry added.
His petition was endorsed by professors from Delhi University, London School of Economics, School of African and Asian Studies, Jadavpur University and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
National Police Academy's former director Shankar Sen, writers Naresh Fernandes and Mahasweta Devi, Supreme Court advocate Colin Gonsalves, actors Aamir Bashir and Nandita Das, Gautam Babbar of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, film-maker Anusha Rizvi and senior scribes affixed their signatures on the petition as did Kasab's defence lawyers Abbas Kazmi and Amin Solkar.
Members of the Mumbai-based Forum Against Oppression of Women and activists from the Citizen's Forum for Civil Liberties also signed Chaudhry's petition after he convinced them of the need to protest against the 26/11 convict's execution.