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Will we care when Ajmal Kasab hangs?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011 - 2:09am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

More than two years since the Mumbai terror attacks and nine years after Gujarat burned, DNA asks Mumbaikars whether the long stretch of litigation has left us indifferent.

When the special court in Ahmedabad gave its verdict in the 2002 Godhra train burning case on Tuesday, did we detect a sense of ennui among people over an incident which sparked off one of the worst communal riots in the country nine years ago?

Similarly, will Mumbaikars affected by the audacious November 26, 2008 terror attack care about Kasab being hanged to death maybe a couple of years from now? Doubtful. By the time the case against Kasab will pass through every stage of appeal, the people who were fuming with rage after the terror attack and started candle-light marches on the street, are unlikely to even react when the law takes its course.

A city that lives in the moment cannot be blamed for being apathetic to memories of the distant past. Kasab’s case will have to pass the rigours of the supreme court and also probably the president (death convicts can file mercy petitions before the president).

In fact, the ten-year-long 1993 serial blasts case (that claimed the lives of 257 people in a series of 12 blasts across the city on March 12 that year)  is a classic case of how litigation can  drag on endlessly and rob the issue most of its import. The blast victims interviewed by media persons had wondered - Why didn’t the judgment come earlier? The case is still pending before the apex court for over three years now.

The counter-argument, of course, is logical, not fraught in emotions. The law takes its own course. Lawyers argue that in any criminal case, the evidence has to be led, a large number of witnesses have to be cross-examined and the accused should be given a fair trial, as per the Indian principles of criminal jurisdiction. But the question still remains — can’t procedural
delays be avoided?

People have a short-term memory
As I have been busy with my children’s board exams, I honestly haven’t had the time to read the papers or find out about the verdicts. But that doesn’t make the verdicts any less important to me. I think it is by such verdicts that you find out whether the law of the land is working correctly. One thing I would like to suggest is that the verdicts should happen a little faster. People have a short term memory and because of the time these verdicts take, they tend lose their charm or value.
Manisha Ginde, 45, doctor

People are more interested in World Cup
I’ve been following both verdicts. As a free citizen who’s been given the right to have an opinion, one should be in touch with what is happening. The verdict on Kasab’s hanging is out but he has not been hanged yet. Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in 2004 and he still remains on death row. This will be no different. Also, it seems people are more tuned in to the World Cup. All other issues have become secondary.
Suresh Shelar, 34, government  employee

As a responsible citizen, it matters
I have followed both verdicts thoroughly. They were both catastrophic incidents and one had to see that those responsible for them are adequately punished. The verdicts may not affect my life directly, but as a responsible citizen, they matter to me. However, the lapsed time between the incident and the verdicts affects one’s interest in the news. If it takes the courts four to five years to come to the verdict, the intensity of interest in the verdict does diminish.
Varsha Rao, 49, GM (HR)

Used to a slow judiciary system
We lost our best officers during 26/11 and that is now forgotten. The Godhra judgement also tells us how such incidents have failed to open our eyes towards communal integrity. These incidents show how individuals have been conferred upon with rights but fail to exercise them. The interest in the subject hasn’t been lost. We are used to our lingering judiciary system where in we are still filing charge sheets!
Alay Shah, 29, investment consultant

It’s a painful reminder
I did watch the Kasab verdict to see what they do after making a mockery of it for so long. Everybody knew Kasab was guilty, yet it took over two years to sentence him to death. It must be so hurtful for the families of those that that were killed during the attacks to watch this. If justice had been granted then, at least they would have felt some respite, but now when they on the path to recovery, this is just a painful reminder.
Kishori R, 22, student

Would be shameful if we forgot them
I have been following both judgments because both are a testimony of our country functioning as a democracy. The verdicts on both cases are important because a fair judgement would allow the country to come to terms with the tragedies, and move  toward hopefully a better future. Such incidents cannot be forgotten as they have left marks on not only those who suffered but also in everyone’s memories. It would be shameful if we forgot or didn’t care about them anymore. I don’t know about others, but the time lapse has not reduced my interest in the subject.
Smruti Desai, 32, instructional designer

We’ve become desensitised
Although both verdicts will have no direct effect on me, I do feel an emotional connection. I want justice to be shown. The Kasab verdict is one I’ve been waiting for. With Godhra I’m still confused because it’s more internal politics at play. So I don’t know if any verdict is true. If you say the government is guilty, the opposition will rejoice and vice versa. But the time lapse in both verdicts has  affected my interest. I was very interested in what was happening then, but now, I am desensitised.
Haem Roy, 23, conceptualiser

Verdict doesn’t make me happy
I did not watch the verdict yesterday but I do know that Kasab has been sentenced to death. To me, this verdict has lost its importance. The verdict doesn’t make me happy anymore and the only thing to blame is the amount of time it has taken. He should have been punished a long time ago. What irritates me more is the amount of money and resources that we have been spending on this man. It is just despicable. And the Godhra riots verdict also doesn’t interest me anymore.
Neerja Tillu, 22, student

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