Just four days before Durga Puja, President Pranab Mukherjee received a bulky folder from the ministry of home affairs with details of Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab’s mercy petition.
The President took a brief view and then left for Kolkata to attend the Puja celebrations.
On his return from Kolkata, the President held several rounds of discussions and on his request a senior legal expert was brought in to go through the folder from the ministry.
Between Durga Puja and his other official visits, the president he had only four working days to take a stock of the dossier. In fact, he had already familiarised himself with these cases before the actual file arrived on his desk.
On November 5, Mukherjee sent back the file with his recommendation to reject Kasab’s mercy petition to Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
The minister was then abroad for an international Interpol conference.
Shinde returned and saw the file on November 7, and immediately called up prime minister Manmohan Singh to brief him. The next day the recommendation was sent to Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and the ball was sent rolling.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was informed about the President’s decision but she was not in the loop about the execution.
Once the file arrived in Mantralaya in Mumbai, Chavan called in director-general of police Sanjeev Dayal, Mumbai commissioner of police Satyapal Singh and the Special IG (law and order) Sadanand Date to plan Kasab’s transfer from Arthur Road Jail to the Yerwada Central Prison in Pune.
With the decision taken it was just a matter of time before Kasab’s time was up.
A four-year-old legal process had concluded and the terrorist became the 52nd person to be hanged in Independent India.