NEW DELHI – The lone surviving gunman in the 2008 attack on the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people and terrified a nation was given the death penalty Thursday.
The sentencing of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab to hang for murder, conspiracy and waging war against the state followed the Pakistani’s conviction Monday on all 86 counts against him.
Kasab was one of 10 men reportedly trained in Pakistan who traveled to Mumbai by water in late November 2008, slipped ashore and over a three-day period attacked two luxury hotels, a train station, a hospital and a Jewish center. The siege was watched in real time by horrified TV viewers around the world.
Kasab broke down, his head in his hand, as the sentence was being read but otherwise declined to speak.
“The death penalty must be imposed,” Special Court Judge M.L. Tahiliyani told the court. “This man has lost all right for humanitarian consideration.”
Death penalty opponents argued that Kasab was on a mission to die anyway, and hanging him would not deter future attackers.
Businessman Bhisham Mansukhani, who was at a wedding at one of the hotels that night and became a hostage, said Kasab should be imprisoned for life without human contact or the smallest of comforts.
“The stupidest thing we can do is kill him,” Mansukhani said. “This is propaganda, the perfect PR package for people who recruit terrorists, ensuring there will be more murderous people like him.”
But this view was the distinct minority in a nation angry at the bloodshed witnessed in Mumbai.
India blames Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group linked in the past to Islambad’s powerful security agencies, for masterminding the attack. Kasab’s lawyer had argued that the attack was carried out under duress from Lashkar.