Pune: Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani terrorist responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, was hanged at Pune's Yerawada Jail, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil said.
Kasab's mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee. Shortly thereafter, in the dead of the night, Kasab was shifted amid top secrecy and tight security to Pune's high-security Yerawada jail.
This morning, at 7.30 a.m., he was hanged in the jail premises after which a team of doctors declared him dead.
"The punishment to Kasab is a true tribute to the victims and martyrs of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks," Patil said.
"Yes, Kasab has been hanged this morning at 7.30 a.m. in Yerawada Central Jail," Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who led the 26/11 terror attacks case, told IANS.
Kasab had been buried inside the premises of Pune's Yerawada Central Jail shortly after the execution, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told journalists. Chavan said Kasab had been shifted from Mumbai's Arthur Road jail to Pune two days ago. Kasab did not leave behind any will, the chief minister said.
The chilling images of Kasab's killing spree, captured by close-circuit TVs installed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai were rekindled, as Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil announced the execution, carried out in complete secrecy.
Kasab's end came five days before the fourth anniversary of the brutal terror attacks that claimed 166 lives and injured 300 people. Nine of his associates, who had sneaked into Mumbai for the three-day carnage, had been secretly buried in the city in January 2010.
The hanging also comes a day before the winter session of parliament and weeks ahead of Gujarat assembly election in December. Indian federal ministers said a letter was sent to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi, informing them of the decision to hang Kasab. When the letter was not accepted, the same was faxed to Pakistan's foreign ministry. But there was no response.
Kasab -- who was barely 21 when he carried out the brutal attack -- was sentenced to death on four counts and to life sentence on five counts on charges including murder, waging a war on India and possessing weapons. He was first sentenced to death by a special trial court on May 6, 2010.
The Bombay High Court upheld the verdict Feb 21 last year, followed by a similar decision by the Supreme Court on Aug 29. Finally, President Mukherjee rejected his mercy plea Nov 5.
"It took the Maharashtra government less than two weeks to hang Kasab, after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his mercy petition Nov 5. I forwarded it to the Maharashtra government on Nov 8," union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in New Delhi.
"Pakistan has been informed but there is no demand for Kasab's body," he said, adding, the the entire operation had to be conducted under secrecy due to the sensitivities involved and all the due procedures were followed.
Soon after, reactions started pouring in. "Better late than never. Kasab's hanging will act as a balm on the wounds of the people of Mumbai but their wounds are still fresh," said Shahnawaz Hussain, the spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"They will get relief only when Kasab's handler's from across the border are brought to justice."
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who appeared for state in the case, said with Kasab's hanging homage has now been paid to those lost their lives in the terror attacks.
"By Kasab's conviction and death penalty, we have proved how the entire conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan. We have set an example that India will not tolerate such attacks and the accused will be brought to justice," Nikam said.