A court in the United States has sentenced 26/11 conspirator David Headley to 35 years in prison, which many of us in India view as inadequate given the gravity of his crime. Headley was the man who laid the groundwork for the 2008 attack in which 166 people were killed. Pretending to be an American tourist (he has an American mother), he conducted meticulous scouting missions to identify targets. The detailed information Headley gathered enabled Ajmal Kasab and nine other terrorists to carry out their assault efficiently.
India has already hanged Kasab, the lone terrorist who was caught.
It was a sentence he deserved. Yet, one can argue that Kasab was a mere pawn in the operation that was planned in Pakistan. The son of a poor Pakistani labourer, Kasab was brainwashed into agreeing to the operation. In contrast, Headley’s crime is worse. He was one of the brains behind the carnage.
American prosecutors struck a plea bargain with Headley to get him to confess and cooperate with investigations. While one applauds the American investigators and prosecutors, a mere sentence of 35 years and their unwillingness to commit to extraditing Headley is unfair.
Headley’s crime is too serious to merit such a light sentence where, with good behaviour, he might walk out of jail earlier. At the very least, as suggested by renowned lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, Headley should be made an approver in the Pakistani trial of 26/11, which might help nail the likes of Hafiz