Friday, April 24, 2009

To hang or not to hang?

In all the media circus surrounding the elections one event not given its due was the farce of the Ajmal Amir Kasab's trial. Advocate Anjali Waghmare, assigned to the case after much drama and hoopla provided by the Shiv Sena, was replaced due to a conflict of interest. She hadn't informed the court about her role as counsel for one of the victim's of 26/11. Now none of the media coverage of this incident asked the most pertinent question, namely, how come a lawyer deemed by the Government to be competent enough to represent the accused of such a high profile case could display such ineptitude. The whole incident smelt of a cop out by Advocate Waghmare; a trick played on the general public to find an honourable way out. Instead of focussing on her incompetence, the media somehow seemed to be taking her view of situation as not just feasible but reasonable.

The truth of the matter is that Kasab needs to be tried as soon as possible and as fairly as possible. This trial is a test for our democracy and our society as a whole. A section of our leaders and society are saying the man was caught red-handed. Why do we need this long prolonged drama of a trial? We should simply hang him. But that would be a big mistake. India is a tinpot dictatorship. We are the world's largest democarcy and the only functioning one in our neighbourhood. There is enough evidence against Kasab; images of him firing away with that automatic gun are still fresh in the mind. But to deny him a fair and public trial, would put our judicial system and our society on the same barbaric level as Kasab and his ilk. It would be a rallying call for more misguided young men across the border.

But now Advocate Abbas Qazmi has been appointed as Kasab's new lawyer and already he has filed a petition claiming lack of jurisdiction because Kasab is underaged!! Ridiculous twaddle of course, but atleast he's being afforded competent legal representation, in our finest tradition. Let Advocate Qazmi bring it on; the prosecution must be ready with an air-tight case. Only then will justice prevail and only then will the victims and martyrs of 26/11 get closure. Our reputation as a democratic society is on the line and the world is watching.

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