Relatives of victims of the 2008 Mumbai attack victims on Wednesday welcomed the execution of the lone surviving attacker, Ajmal Kasab, saying justice has been finally delivered.
In Varanasi, Sunita Yadav, wife of victim Upendra Yadav, expressed her gratitude to the authorities for carrying out the execution.
Upendra was killed while waiting at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station to catch a train as militants opened fire on unsuspecting civilians.
“We would like to thank the authorities and the law for hanging the one who had widowed so many women and orphaned so many children. We sincerely thank them,” Sunita said.
Many foreigners, some of India's wealthy business elite, and poor train commuters were killed by 10 Pakistani gunmen in a three-day rampage through some of Mumbai's best-known landmarks, including two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre.
The news of Kasab’s execution was also received with joy by Shabbir Dalal in Maharashtra’s Sholapur town, who lost his uncle and cousin in the attack and himself suffered severe injuries.
Dalal recounted the horrors of the attack on the fateful night of November 26, 2008 when he was waiting at Mumbai’s Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus rail station to catch a train home along with his relatives.
“We had been sitting outside the VT station. Three of us were waiting outside gate no. 12, me along with my uncle and nephew. The first bullet hit my cousin Ejaz Dalal and he died on the spot. Then another bullet hit my uncle and he also died on the spot. Then I got hit in my leg by a bullet and began to bleed badly. I lost a lot of blood as bullets were being fired blindly in all directions. So much blood was spilled that day. After that I was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and then I was shifted to the J. J. Hospital. My treatment went on for one year at J. J. Hospital, where I underwent six operations. Today when I heard that the government has hanged Kasab, I feel elated,” he said.
Kasab was filmed walking through Mumbai's main train station carrying an AK-47 assault rifle and a knapsack on his back. Nearly 60 people were gunned down in the crowded station.
For several of the relatives of victims, happiness was tinged with a feeling of delayed justice.
Dev Singh Gosain, father of Gautam Gosain, who was gunned down at the Taj Hotel when the attacks happened, said the hanging should have happened much earlier.
“I have talked to my wife and she was watching the television as well and is very happy. Whatever had to happen has happened. The entire country wanted that he should be hanged. We were very happy when the President had rejected his mercy plea. If it had been done earlier, then it would not have got so delayed,” he said.
The co-owner of Leopold Café, Farzad Jehani, said: “The materialistic loss can always be replaced but human life cannot be replaced. So, I don’t care about the materialistic loss but, always the thought comes to the people’s lives that we have lost - two of my waiters that I have lost, three of the foreign nationals that were lost, three local Indians that were lost, so many that were wounded. How are we going to change those people’s family life? How are we going to change those who were wounded and are having the nightmares going on? So all those things cannot be changed.
Ramdas said: “Though the decision of hanging Kasab was delayed, but a good step has been taken by the government and is in the interest of the people. He deserved to be hanged.”
Mujeer Ali, another Mumbai resident, said: “We are happy with the decision of hanging Kasab, but it came pretty late. He should have been hanged on the day when he was caught. Our government delayed its decision and fed him in the jail for so many days. If the amount that was spent on him, was given to a poor family, they would have sustained for their entire life.
Kasab's execution happened very quickly for India's usually glacial justice system. Three people convicted of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi are still on death row, 21 years after he was killed by a suicide bomb.
Kasab was found guilty on more than 80 charges in May 2010, including murder and waging war on India, and was sentenced to death by hanging. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence on August 29.
It was the first time a capital sentence had been carried out in India since 2004.
India accuses Pakistan-based militants of organizing the attacks, saying Islamabad is failing to act against those behind the raids. Pakistan denies involvement and says it is prosecuting seven suspected militants for their role.