Ajmal Qasab and his friends should hang their heads in shame

Thu, Apr 16, 2009

Yesterday, I happened to watch the show ‘The Buck Stops Here’ presented by Barkha Dutt on NDTV 24 X 7.

The trial of Ajmal Qasab, the lone terrorist captured during the Nov.27 attack on Mumbai and fellow defendants had begun in Mumbai and the court relieved Anjali Waghmare, the lawyer appointed by the court to defend Qasab, because of what it saw as a conflict of interest. Anjali Waghmare is the wife of a policeman. Qasab asked for a Pakistani lawyer to represent him.

The main topic for discussion on the show was whether Qasab should be given a Pakistani lawyer to defend him. The panel included Ram Jethmalani-one of India’s best lawyers ever, an MP of the Siv Sena, the attorney representing the state of Maharashtra in the case, a visiting journalist from Pakistan and most notably Shantanu Saikia, whose wife Sabina died during the attacks. While there were arguments for and against Qasab being given a Pakistani lawyer, the highest point of the show was when Shantanu Saikia told the surprised panel that he, and his daughter and son had decided to forgive Qasab for what he had done.

Saikia said that his wife was just a victim, and not the target and that hanging Qasab wont make things any better for him, his children or the world in general. He also added that his 12-year old son has expressed a desire to visit Qasab in jail and spend time with him. Everyone in the panel, and even Barkha Dutt herself was rendered speechless. Shantanu went on to add that we need to expel fears, anger and dogma from our minds.

A visibly moved Barkha Dutt, lost for words tried to conclude the discussions, even as Ram Jethmalani interrupted, saying “This young man’s words must be printed, broadcast and spread throughout the world. When the terrorists see it, they will hang their head in shame !”.

As Barkha Dutt, having regained her composure concluded the discussions, Shantanu Saikia’s words still echoed in my hearts, and I am sure that anybody who happened to watch the show would have felt the same. In these times of anger and hatred, one man has demonstrated that we can still raise above the common theme of hatred, spreading rays of love.

Shantanu Saikia, hats off to you !

PS: I personally think that Qasab should be given the highest punishment possible. It may not change the minds of these terrorists, but it will certainly remind them of the consequences of carrying out attacks against innocent people.