December 7, 2008 in Nation/World

Officials fear suspect may attempt suicide

Extra precautions are being taken with lone captive
By Padma Rao Sundarji McClatchy
File Associated Press photo

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab walks through the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station on Nov. 26 during an attack on Mumbai, India.
(Full-size photo)

NEW DELHI, India – Mohammed Ajmal Kasab wants to die, and police are taking extraordinary measures to make sure the only alleged assailant captured alive during the terror shootings in Mumbai a week and a half ago stays alive, the newspaper Mumbai Mirror reported.

Officials in the Mumbai police force were quoted as saying that they are doing their best to ensure that 21-year-old Kasab does not commit suicide.

The Mirror is the tabloid subsidiary of India’s largest-selling newspaper group, the Times of India, and its reporting, unlike that of some other news media, has stood up well in the past 10 days.

Police are keeping Kasab in rooms without ceiling fans or other hanging objects that the penniless young man could use to kill himself, the paper reported.

“We frequently move him so no one knows his exact location,” the unnamed sources told the Mirror.

At the same time, little has emerged on the identities and background of the other nine assailants, all of whom died in the three-day operation.

The men fired indiscriminately at passers-by at Mumbai’s main railway station, seized a Jewish center and killed six people, and took over two luxury hotels, where they killed guests trying to flee and seized others as hostages, later shooting them. Kasab was captured in the first hours of the assault as he attempted to escape from one of the scenes of the shootings.

To be certain he is not poisoned, officials of the criminal investigation branch of the Mumbai police are tasting every meal that is served to him, the Mirror said. And there is always one policeman with him around the clock to keep him talking. They even fear Kasab may try to kill himself by holding his breath, the paper said.

To be absolutely certain he cannot flee, Kasab lives only in his underwear – not out of modesty but to make sure he cannot tear off sections, and suffocate himself on garments by swallowing and choking on them.

There are plans to use the “truth serum” barbiturate sodium pentothal, which may induce hallucinations, delusions and psychotic manifestations, on the captured terrorist, the paper said.

But it is not certain whether Kasab, the “baby-faced terrorist,” as he has been dubbed in the Indian media, will go beyond his admissions so far.

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