Thursday, May 06, 2010

To hang or not to hang - is that a question??

Today - India awaits the sentence to be awarded to Ajmal Kasab, one of the ten terrorists who arrived from Pakistan onto the shores of Mumbai on 26th November 2008, and in course of the next few hours brutally killed hundreds of innocent people at a Railway Station, hospital, two Hotels and even the home of a Jewish priest.

Most of these murderers were gunned down by the security forces - their fate was sealed even before they left Pakistan.

By a strange quirk of fate, one of them - Ajmal Kasab survived.

The Government till date has spent in excess of thirty crore rupees to protect this one man, in order to prosecute him and also to try and gather more intelligence about who the master mind planners were, of this horrific attack.

Three days back, the judge presiding over the case pronounced Kasab guilty and set May 6 2010, today, as the date of announcement of the sentence.

All of the above are facts. But there is also a hyperactive media - pages after pages of print, and endless hours of repetitive broadcast of television recordings, trying to create a huge sensation out of the whole matter. Will it be a death sentence or a life imprisonment? Should it be a death sentence? What do the wives of Hemant Karkare and the other police officers who laid down their lives that evening, have to say? The viewer and readers are drawn in, into what I believe is a sick almost gut wrenching experience. A man's fate between life and death is to be decided and every media channel indulges in sensationalism of the cheapest form yet !

Whether Kasab's crime should invite a death sentence or not, is a matter of endless debate which can never be concluded. One one person has to take a call and that is the judge presiding over the case. However let us not lose sight of that fact that we are talking about taking away another life even though that of a hardened criminal. Does that become a hot topic for discussion over coffee or cocktails?

To me it seems that every Indian should be sensitive to all the events that led up to this case - mostly what happened on 26/11. Innocent lives were lost. This case and the pending judgement to be awarded to Kasab, is all about that. For a moment - get into the mind of the next of kin of any person who died that evening or in the next two days. How would he or she be thinking today? If Kasab hangs, will it make him or her happier? They know that Kasab's hanging will not bring their near and dear ones back to life. At best it will leave them satisfied that justice has been delivered.

Therefore there has to be an attitude, an environment and an air of sobriety and solemnity around this case. Especially today. After all it is a very severe punishment we are talking about - and not a transaction or a 'quid pro quo' . Something into which every Indian is being forced, to stake a claim, thanks to our media.

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