Even before the state government was informed on November 8 that the President had rejected Ajmal Kasab’s mercy plea, the state government had moved a court of an additional sessions judge in Mumbai for the nod for the hanging date. On September 11, 2012, the state government sought November 21 as the date to hang Kasab, which was granted.
The state government then pushed the Centre to move the Kasab file so that there would be no delay in the hanging. “Kasab’s mercy petition was rejected by the governor on September 12 and by the president on November 5. Had the rejection plea not come in time, we would have had no option but to postpone the execution as it was done in a few earlier cases,” state home minister RR Patil said.
According to sources, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan played a major role in expediting the procedure at the central level. The state government had already began making plans, which picked up once the formal rejection was received.
Soon after the state was informed about the President rejecting the mercy plea, principal secretary (home) Medha Gadgil, who is in charge of prisons, chalked out a plan, coordinating with the police, jail authorities and various departments of the central government. On November 12, the home minister held a meeting with key officials at Yerwada Jail, and the process began moving from there on.
Following the jail manual in terms of the communication with the parents of the terrorist was a time consuming as too many departments were involved in it. “The letters were sent to the Union ministry of home affairs, which forwarded them to ministry of external affairs that dealt with the high commissioner of Pakistan. The comminication started seven to eight days ago and we received the acknowledgment from Pakistan authorities yesterday,” said a state official.
The other concern was getting together a police team to shift Kasab to Pune. Diwali and the deployment of the police force across the state in the wake of illness and subsequent demise of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray raised questions over the preparedness for the D-day. “After the death of Thackeray on Saturday, the department decided to go ahead with the hanging on November 20,” he added.
According to an officer who was a part of the team that was involved in Kasab’s shifting, joint commissioner of police law and order, Sadanand Date, inspector general of police state law and order Deven Bharti, DGP Sanjeev Dayal and additional DG (law and order) Ahmed Javed were among few officers who were part of the planning to shift Kasab.
Sources said a few days before the shifting, a meeting was conducted by senior officers wherein they had chalked out a full proof plan to shift Kasab from Arthur Road to Yerwada jail. Seven commandos and a prison officer were handpicked for the operation. One of the officers was investigating officer of the 26/11 case, inspector Ramesh Mahale. Senior jail authorities were informed on few hours before the operation that the shifting would take place in the wee hours of November 20.
In the wee hours of November 20, at around 1 am, while the city was still recovering from the demise of Bal Thackeray, and which saw less crowds on the city’s streets, three vehicles, including bulletproof vehicles, drew up on the main road outside Arthur Road jail. A few policemen were given duty on both the ends of the main road of the jail and were given specific task to inform the in-charge of the operation if they find anything suspicious.
Meanwhile, a few crime branch officers met the jail authorities and briefed them about Kasab’s shifting. Kasab was then taken out of the anda cell and was made to sit in one of the vehicles parked outside in the supervision of superintendent of jail W Burkule. Armed police guards were present in all the vehicles.
“The vehicles were given strict instructions not to halt throughout the journey. Firstly, the vehicle reached Navi Mumbai, Khandala, Sancheti Hospital and finally Yerwada. Kasab’s custody was given to Yerawada jail authorities,” said an officer.