Exclusive: President rejects Ajmal Kasab’s mercy plea


President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday rejected the mercy petition filed by Ajmal Kasab, the Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist sentenced to death for his role in the November 26, 2008 terror attack on Mumbai.

The decision was taken following the advice of the union home ministry, a highly placed source told The Indian Express. "All the papers have been signed," the source said.

Mukherjee's decision comes nearly two months after the Maharashtra home department rejected Kasab's mercy petition that had been addressed to the President. The department's recommendation was sent to Rashtrapati Bhavan through the state chief minister's office and the union home ministry.

Kasab was one of 10 Pakistani terrorists who came to Mumbai by boat from Karachi and attacked targets across the heart of the financial capital, killing 165 people and wounding scores. Before launching the attacks, they also killed the Indian captain of the boat they had hijacked off the coast of Gujarat.

Kasab had filed his mercy petition in September after the Supreme Court confirmed his death sentence on August 29. The apex court had held that the 26/11 carnage was an attack on India and Indians which deserved the rarest of rare punishment.

A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad had said that 25-year-old Kasab, the only attacker who survived the three-day outrage in Mumbai, had shown no remorse or the possibility of rehabilitation after his arrest, and in fact considered himself as a "hero and a patriotic Pakistani at war". He had no feeling of pity and killed without the slightest twinge of conscience and the gallows remained the "only" punishment for him, the court had said.

When Mukherjee took over as President in July this year, there were mercy petitions from 16 convicts sentenced to death in 11 cases pending with Rashtrapati Bhavan. Kasab's petition, submitted after he took office, is the first to be decided by him.

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