July 20, 2009 8:38:13 am
In a dramatic twist to what was turning out to be a long-drawn terror trial,Ajmal Amir Kasab,the lone Lashkar-e-Toiba gunman captured alive during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks,surprised the special court trying him by confessing to his crimes today and asking the judge to end the hearings and just punish him.
Mein apne aap ko nirdosh nahin batata hoon. Meri guzaarish hai ki mujhe turant saza sunai jaye. Mere trial ko khatam kar do sir. Mujhe bilkul confess karna tha. Jo kaha hai,woh kisi ke dabaav mein nahin bola hai. Apni marzi se bayaan de raha hoon. Mere confession ko record kar do (I am not saying I am innocent. I am requesting the court to deliver its judgment immediately. Sir,please conclude my trial with this confession. I am not acting under duress and I am confessing completely willingly. Please record my confession), Kasab said.
Through the days court proceedings,a calm and composed Kasab,21,clinically narrated his journey from a decorator in a small shop in Pakistans Jhelum district to a Lashkar jehadi who ended up becoming the face of the unprecedented attack on the metropolis in which 166 were killed nearly eight months ago.
While much of what Kasab said in court has already been known through the prosecution case,the Lashkar man claimed that an Indian jehadi with the alias Abu Jundal taught him and his accomplices Hindi in one of the many camps they were trained. Besides,Kasab also named Lashkar operations chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi,and handlers Abu Hamza and Kahfa,along with Abu Jundal,among the four ustaads who trained the attackers.
He said he had waited for Pakistan to accept him as a Pakistani and decided to confess once Islamabad did so. However,there was some discrepancy in that claim as Pakistan first accepted Kasab as its citizen more than five months ago when Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said all the 26/11 attackers were Pakistanis. But with Kasab not questioned during the confession,it was not clear why he waited all this while.
Incidentally,Kasabs confession comes a little over a week after Pakistan gave India a dossier on the action it had taken against the Lashkar men blamed for the attack. The 36-page dossier names Lashkar operations chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi as the mastermind and reconfirms the Pakistani nationality of Kasab.
While the Mumbai Police and the prosecution claimed his confession as a victory for the watertight case they said they had built,Kasabs lawyer said he was completely surprised as he did not know this was coming despite having met his Pakistani prisoner on Friday.
Legal experts said that the confession would greatly speed up the trial against Kasab while the trial of the two others accused,Syed Sabahuddin and Fahim Ansari,was likely to be split and tried separately.
The police and the prosecution also said that there were some contradictions and discrepancies in Kasabs confession today and the one he had made while in custody and later retracted and that they would place them before the court.
If Kasab accepts these contradictions as well and admits to them,his trial would effectively end and the two sides will argue over the punishment he deserves,they said. If not,these discrepancies will have to proved through further depositions.
Mondays proceedings in the court began at 11 am with Police Inspector M Chavan due to depose in the hearing into the shootout at the Cama Hospital. But around 11.30 am,Kasab looked at his lawyer Abbas Kazmi and said he wanted to speak to Judge M L Tahaliyani,who immediately consented.
Sir mujhe apna gunaah kabool karna hai (Sir,I want to confess my crime), Kasab told Tahaliyani. For the next four hours,with a 30 minute break for lunch,Kasab talked about how he went to Rawalpindi with a friend to become a burglar and ended up becoming a jehadi and landed in Mumbai,armed to the teeth to kill indiscriminately.
Mein Pakistan se sunne ke liye ruka tha. Jab unhone kabool kar liya ke Kasab unka hai,maine confession karne ki thaan li (I waited for Pakistan to accept that I was a Pakistani and once they did,I decided to confess), Kasab told the court.
Kasab said he met a youth called Muzaffar while working with a decorator called Haji Sultan. Mein naraaz tha apni life se. Muzaffar aur main baatein karte the. Muzaffar ne kaha hum dacoity karenge Rawalpindi main. Main turant tayaar ho gaya (I was unhappy with life. Muzaffar and I would talk. Muzaffar said we should become burglars in Rawalpindi. I immediately agreed), he said.
He said he saw some Lashkar jehadis in Rawalpindis Raja Market and was immediately drawn to them. Humne kaha hum yahan jehad karne aaye hain. Hame andar bula diya (I said I was there for jehad. They took me in), he said,and went on to recall the rigorous training he and others were put through in various Lashkar camps across Pakistan.
Talking about the Mumbai attacks,Kasab said he was merely a foot soldier who had opened fire only inside the CST station. I was relying on Abu Ismail,my companion,for orders. I had no idea what the next move was. We opened fire at the CST station and then headed towards Cama Hospital. I had not opened fire on any one after the CST firing, he claimed.
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