Mumbai terror attack: Kasab's last words to interrogator, 'Aap logon ki jeet hai'
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One morning in January 2009, Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during the November 26, 2008 attacks, told Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale, "It has been eight years and you haven't hanged Afzal Guru, I have enough time."
Mahale, 56, then a Senior Inspector with the Crime Branch, was surprised. "I was unaware of the number of years Guru had been waiting. Further questioning revealed that Kasab had not only undergone physical training, but also knew enough about our legal landscape," he recalls, five years after the Mumbai Attacks
On the night of the 26/11 attacks, Mahale was outside Hotel Trident, co-ordinating rescue operations, when he was sent to Nair Hospital. His brief was clear: a "fidayeen" had been picked up alive and he had to interrogate him. Recalling the journey to the hospital, Mahale remembers how he kept repeating the word "fidayeen" to himself.
"I began thinking of conviction and all the things essential to hang a terrorist... I often tell everyone that this country owes a huge debt to Tukaram Omble (the police officer who helped nab Kasab)," he says. His first impression of Kasab was "ekdum chikna, ekdum smart, but phir ekdum bachkanda (fair, smart but childish).
Having worked in terror cases before, Mahale knew that "direct evidence" was everything. "We needed proof. Aur Pakistan ko ungli karne ke liye, pehli baar kuch haath laga tha (we got the chance to blame Pakistan for the first time)," he says. Chairs were arranged next to Kasab's bed and for over three hours, he spoke to him. "You could see the level of training from the first day itself. He spoke without fear, and there was a sense of total surrender in his words. His eyes never wavered," recalls Mahale.