Mumbai: ‘Atithi Devo Bhavo’, the popular phrase in Hindi, proudly sings the praise of traditional Indian hospitality culture where the guest is treated not less than a God. But the Indian Govt. had gone even a step further and had extended the very same hospitality to ‘Atithi Ajmal Kasab’ as well.
Kasab, a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative, unleashed terror in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, and was responsible for the mindless killing of 166 Indians and many foreign nationals. The November 2008 attacks saw the Taj Hotels, Mumbai under siege by terrorists and also random shooting of innocents at CST railway station, Leopold Café, Metro Cinema, Nariman House, Cama Hospital and the Trident Oberoi.
Kasab was captured alive and then confined in a specially built bullet and bomb free cell at the Central Prison at Arthur Road Mumbai.
The Central and Maharashtra government literally spent crores of rupees on his security, maintenance, legal fees, infrastructure, etc. They even got a special ward constructed for his treatment at J.J. Hospital which lay unused due to security constraints and the doctors had to visit him in jail instead.
The approximate break-up of expenditure on Kasab’s custody is approximated and listed below:
Rs. 43 cr: Special security at Arthur Road jail – The Indian Tibetan Border Police force commandos provided additional security at the Arthur road Central Prison for nearly four years.
Security for special public prosecutors, judges and lawyers in the case
Rs. 8 cr: Cost of construction of special egg shaped cell or ‘Anda Cell’
Rs. 1.5 cr: Special ward construction at JJ Hospital
Rs. 1 cr: Special vehicles & infrastructure around jail
Rs. 0.5 cr: Supreme court expenses
However the enormous spend did not mean that Kasab had a lavish lifestyle in the jail. The news that Kasab was having ‘mutton biryani’ in jail was untrue and was fabricated by public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam. Nikam came under fire for his irresponsible remark, but he brushed the controversy aside by saying that he wanted to quell the sympathy wave of the public towards Kasab.
Kasab was provided articles and facilities as per the Prisons Rules 1971 which allows for providing – clothing, woollen blankets, pots, plates, aluminium mug, newspapers, tobacco, religious articles, basic exercise facilities, etc. to prisoners.
The Govt. justified its large spend saying that what was important is that Kasab was captured ‘alive’ and hence the Govt. was able to expose Pakistan by catching them red-handed in the terror act.
Kasab was executed just 5 days before the fourth anniversary of the attacks i.e. on November 21, 2012. The Indian Govt. sought to hurriedly execute him to bring closure to the 26/11 event and erase from the public mind the horrific event and majorly to put an end to any more media glare and its own accountability on the matter. They did it in the most clandestine manner and coded the action as Operation X which was a top secret.
The sad part, however, is that Kasab was a mere pawn in the devious plan of terror jointly carried out by the Pakistan Govt.’s intelligence wing – the ISI and the Laskhkar- E-Taiba. The main accused i.e. the LeT chief Hafiz Sayeed who has recently been acquitted of all charges by the Pakistani Govt. recently in October 2017. And the fight is ON against Pakistan’s terrorism..