Monday, November 16, 2009

Tribute: The 26/11 heroes who laid their lives for Mumbai

As the first anniversary of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks nears, all eyes are set on the special court where the prosecution is gearing up to wrap up the case against Pakistan gunman Ajmal Kasab and two others who are charged with killing 166 persons.

With the testimony of 250 witnesses and strong forensic evidence, the prosecution has prepared a water-tight case against Kasab, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said.

The keenly-watched trial, which began in April, is expected to be over this month end with just a few witnesses left to depose before Judge M L Tahaliyani. Kasab is confined to a specially-built isolated cell in the high security central prison and is guarded by a strong posse of Indo-Tibetan Border Security Force round the clock.

Altogether 30 eye witnesses have identified Kasab in the identification parade and in the court. Forensic experts have also given their opinion that the DNA of articles found from Kuber boat (in which terrorists landed in Mumbai) matched with the DNA of Kasab and five other slain terrorists.

The prosecution has also screened in the court CCTV footages of terrorists from cameras installed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Times of India Building (opposite CST), Hotel Taj and Hotel Oberoi-Trident.

Besides CCTV footages, other articles such as weapons and RDX seized from Kasab and slain terrorists have also been placed as evidence. The prosecution is also relying upon the confession made by Kasab before a Magistrate wherein he revealed about the conspiracy hatched in Pakistan to commit terror strikes on November 26 last year.

The Magistrate has told the special court that Kasab had made a voluntary confession and that he had been given three opportunities to consider whether he wanted to reveal the information which was within his knowledge.

The prosecution is also banking on a plea made by Kasab in the court partly accepting his guilt in the crime. Kasab has accepted in the court that he was a part of the conspiracy but said he played a secondary role in the terror attacks as Abu Ismael was his leader. The gunman has denied that he had fatally shot police officers Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamate and Constable Tukaram Omble.

The prosecution is relying upon evidence tendered by foreign experts, who said the mobile phones, used by nine terrorists while talking to their Pakistan handlers during the assault, were imported by a Pakistan firm from China. The dingy brought by terrorists in hijacked 'Kuber' fishing boat has also been placed as evidence before the court.

The court has issued non-bailable warrants against 27 absconding accused, including founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafeez Sayeed and LeT chief of operations Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. The warrants have been forwarded to the Interpol for execution but so far no one has been arrested.

The accused are facing charges under IPC, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Foreigners Act, Passport (Entry into India) Act, Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act, Damage to Public Properties Act, Indian Railway Act and Customs Act.

A total of 166 persons, including foreign nationals from the UK, the US and Israel, were killed and 304 others injured when terrorists struck at Hotel Taj, Hotel Oberoi-Trident, Nariman House, CST, Cama Hospital and Cafe Leopold. The terrorists also planted bombs in two taxis which exploded. Loss on account of destruction of properties was estimated to the tune of Rs 41 crores. Besides Kasab, the other two arrested accused are Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, both alleged LeT operatives.

Tags : Ujjwal Nikam, Ajmal Kasab, Mumbai terror attack