Donít hang him, give him a chance to atone, citizens wrote to President

More than 215 people had signed a petition addressed to President Pranab Mukherjee to commute 25-year-old Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab's death sentence to life imprisonment arguing that killing a human being for revenge or punishment was wrong. Keeping Kasab in jail for life would make him realise the harm he had done and atone for his crime, which would be a victory over terror, said the letter Mumbai-based lawyer Yug Chaudhry had written to the President in October-end.

"In the first batch sent to the President, there were 203 signatures. About 15-20 more signatures were obtained in the second batch sent to the President," Chaudhry told The Indian Express.

Prominent signatories included Kasab's lawyers Amin Solkar and Abbas Kazmi, Gautam Babbar of the United Nations, senior lawyer Collin Gonsalves, writers Mahasweta Devi and Naresh Fernandes, actors Nandita Das and Aamir Bashir, retired Director of the National Police Academy Shankar Sen, film-maker Anusha Rizvi and many senior journalists.

Professors from leading institutions like the London School and Economics, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, School of African and Asian Studies, Delhi University and Jadavpur University and members of groups like the Citizen's Forum for Civil Liberties, Forum Against Opression of Women, Mumbai also signed the petition.

In his letter to the President on October 31 Chaudhry said, "This petition has been endorsed by 203 citizens of India. I request you... to exercise your prerogative of mercy in favour of Ajmal Kasab and commute his death sentence to life imprisonment." Chaudhry had said Kasab's execution should not be allowed to take place unopposed, even if the protest be only a whimper. He wrote, "We believe it is wrong and immoral to kill a human being by way of revenge or punishment. Executing Kasab in the name of the Indian people will only feed a base blood lust that will make society more blood-thirsty, vengeful and violent."

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