India executed the sole surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Ajmal Kasab, in a move prompting surprise, cheers - and charges of politics.
Mr. Kasab was sentenced to death in 2010 after a highly-watched trial. His plea for clemency was denied earlier this month. Kasab and nine other gunmen killed 166 people in a three-day bullet-spraying, grenade-throwing rampage that targeted some of the most iconic places in the city. The attack, which left carnage throughout the heart of India’s commercial capital, is often compared here to the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
The first person to be executed in India since 2004 and the third since 1995, Kasab’s death was met with mixed reactions. Some victims and analysts see the relatively efficient trial and execution as a sign that India is growing more serious about serving justice in a system infamously mired in delays and inconclusive investigations. Others point out how the case's swift closure was an anomaly, propelled forward by politics at home and in the region.
“India has proven itself incapable of resolving some of the most heinous crimes within its own country,” says journalist Adrian Levy, who is currently writing a book on the Mumbai attacks. "Killing Kasab does not restore a sense of justice to a country whose legal system is failing it. Killing Kasab is an act of vengeance that further destabilizes the notion of justice in India."
He notes the country has failed to resolve the murder of Jalil Andrabi, a prominent Kashmir human rights lawyer, even after the guilty party was exposed in court. Many are also questioning why other people on death row like Afzal Guru, who was convicted of attacking the parliament in 2001 and sentenced to death in 2004, have yet to be executed.