The ‘top-secret execution’ of Ajmal Kasab, convicted for perpetrating the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai four years ago, diminishes us all Indians.
The vast majority of world opinion abhors meting out death penalty for any crime. This majority includes countries such as Russia, Israel UK and Germany that have been victims of terrorism. But India stands with stony hearts like the United States, China, Pakistan and Iran.
India’s plea is that it is its sovereign right to determine its own legal system and death sentence is carried out India only on the “rarest of occasions” and that too with great deliberation. But India parries the big moral issue, which is that execution by the state (or the community) is nothing but a barbaric practice dating back tp primeval times when the thumb rule used to be “eye-for-an-eye”.
For India, it is a particularly agonizing question because Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, three of the finest flowers of its ancient civilization, all equally forbid such killings. Indians need to reflect. I wonder if Gandhi would have condoned Kasab’s execution.
To turn to its downstream impact, there is going to be repercussions for India-Pakistan ties. The ‘dialogue process’ may be deemed as moribund, which has implications for regional security. The dialogue was worth having, if only to keep India-Pakistan tensions under check.
With no Mamohan-Singh visit to Pakistan on the anvil, with no Siachen or Sir Creek agreement on the horizon and with the feel-good CBMs petering out, where are we heading at a crucial time when the ground beneath the feet will rapidly shift between now and end-2014?
Both countries are in a state of drift and weak governments often have a need to flex muscles. But Pakistan will, hopefully, assess the meaning of the ‘fast-forwarding’ of Kasab’s execution. Actually, it absolves Pakistan of any further need to go through with the motions of the investigation. Ironically, the ‘file’ is closed, no matter what India might say.
Kasab’s execution needs to be seen primarily from the perspective of India’s internal processes. Many Indians are apparently ‘celebrating’. It may seem a morbid thing to do, which indeed it is, when a human life is snuffed out — any human life, howsoever evil it might have been — but it has a meaning of its own in the present Indian context.
Indeed, the two main political parties — Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party — are instinctively vying with each other to express satisfaction with the execution. What is the basis of their bizarre posturing? Usually, these hardened folks express satisfaction when they anticipate some political windfall.
The dismal truth is that both Congress and BJP are courting the ‘Hindutva’ constituency. The BJP has a natural claim to right wing ‘middle class’ Hindu opinion. But Congress seems to have one eye on Narendra Modi’s likely arrival in Delhi as the BJP’s great helmsman.
A ‘soft Hindutva’ image is just what Congress needs in order to neutralize Modi’s seamless, radiating energy. The party calculates that Muslim voters alienated by Modi are in any case its pocket borough (since the Indian Muslim has no place else to go to other than the ‘secular-minded’ Congress), while the ‘soft Hindutva’ posturing might additionally enable Congress to poach into the BJP’s natural constituency. Welcome to Indian democracy.
– November 21, 2012