More than 200 people wanted Ajmal Kasab pardoned

Ajmal Kasab
More than 203 people had signed a petition addressed to President Pranab Mukherjee, who rejected the clemency petition filed by Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, asking him to pardon the 25-year-old sentenced to death in the 26/11 terror attacks case.

Mumbai-based lawyer Yug Chaudhry had written to the President on October 28 and sought public support for his petition seeking the commutation of the death sentence handed out to Kasab, that was executed at Pune's Yerwada Jail on Wednesday morning.

"In the first batch sent to the President, 203 people had signed the petition. About 15-20 more signatures were obtained in the second batch that was also sent to the President," Chaudhry told the Indian Express.

Prominent names featuring in the list of signatories who opposed Kasab's execution includes Kasab's defence lawyers Amin Solkar and Abbas Kazmi, Gautam Babbar of the United Nations, senior lawyer Collin Gonsalves, writers Mahasveta Devi and Naresh Fernandes, actors Nandita Das and Aamir Bashir, retired Director of the National Police Academy Shankar Sen, film-maker Anusha Rizvi and senior journalists.

Professors from leading educational institutes 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.

In his letter to the President written on October 31, Chaudhry stated, "This petition has been endorsed by 203 citizens of India. I would therefore request you on behalf of all those citizens who have endorsed this mercy petition to exercise your prerogative of mercy in favour of Md. Ajmal Kasab and commute his death sentence to one of life imprisonment."

Seeking support for his letter, Chaudhry had said that Kasab's execution should not be allowed to take place unopposed, even if the protest is only a whimper.

In his letter, Chaudhry had written, "We believe that 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 our society more blood-thirsty, vengeful and violent."

The letter urged the President to waive the capital punishment and retain Kasab in prison for the rest of his life. "….keeping Kasab in jail for the rest of his life and treating him like a human being allows for the possibility of him regaining his humanity, repenting his crime and atoning for the harm he has caused.  That would indeed be a big victory in our battle against terrorism," the letter read.

It also said that the execution of Kasab would not contribute to the safety or well-being of the Indian people in anyway.

"In the land of Buddha, Mahavira and Gandhiji, let it not be said that there is no place left in our hearts for mercy or that the national conscience can only be satisfied by the killing of Kasab," the letter concluded. 

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