Pakistani national Ajmal Amir Kasab was on Monday found guilty on 86 charges from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, including waging war on India and murder. Two Indians — Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed — accused of aiding the attackers were acquitted.
Kasab, 22, the lone Pakistani captured alive after the 26/11 attacks, listened attentively with his head bowed while Special Judge M L Tahalyani read out the 1,522-page verdict over almost three hours. He went through each of the charges against the three accused separately. His sentencing will begin on Tuesday.
His conviction was based on CCTV footage showing him striding across the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) with an AK-47 and a backpack. The prosecution had called 653 witnesses to testify against the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative born in an impoverished family in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Tahalyani ruled that Kasab was guilty of directly killing seven people and a total of 59 along with associate Abu Ismail, who was shot dead after running into a police picket at Girgaun Chowpatty early on November 27 – shortly after the terror assault began in Mumbai on the night of November 26.
Ansari, 35, and Ahmed, 24, were also in court. The two – Ahmed from Goregaon in Mumbai and Ahmed from Madhubani in Bihar — had been charged with conspiracy by preparing maps of the targeted locations and handing them to LeT operatives.
But the judge said the Pakistani handlers of the terrorists would not have gone for hand-drawn maps, which were more “confusing than helpful”. Ismailâ€™s trousers were bloodstained when he was killed by the police but the maps in his pockets were clean.
“The prosecution’s evidence against these two accused is doubtful and hence the benefit of doubt must go to them,” said Tahalyani.
The court said Ansari and Ahmed have been “forthwith acquitted from the case and allowed to be set free if they are not wanted in any other case”. The two may not be released soon, as they are accused in at least two other terror cases.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said he would recommend to the Government to appeal against the order acquitting Faheem and Sabauddin in the High Court.
“I am very happy (about conviction of Kasab). But I regret the acquittal of two other accused Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed. The court has given them benefit of doubt. We will challenge their acquittal,” he said.