‘There was some intelligence that he’ll be killed before the whole process — after sessions court, high court, Supreme Court, mercy petition before the governor, the President — was completed; they (Pakistani intelligence agencies) will somehow manage to kill him.’
In the concluding part of an exclusive interview, Dr Meeran Chadha Borwankar, former Pune police commissioner and author of Madam Commissioner — The Extraordinary Life of an Indian Police Chief, discusses with Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com how she oversaw the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, the only 26/11 terrorist to be captured alive.
You were Additional Director Generak Prisons and you oversaw the hanging of Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon. You were one of those ten persons who were with Kasab.
At the time of his death, did you see fear in his eyes? Did you see remorse, regret in his eyes?
What kind of feelings was he going through when he was walking towards the gallows?
I don’t know what was going in his mind, but he was totally demoralised, lost. I don’t think he could comprehend what was happening. I think while they were being trained in Pakistan, they were told either to come back alive or get killed.
But that a trial will be held (after he was arrested owing to the exemplary bravery of Mumbai police Constable Tukaram Omble) and that he would be hanged was too much for him to handle.
After all, what was his age? He was a very young terrorist. I don’t think he could comprehend and I thought he was totally lost.
Did he accept his death naturally or did he protest when he was being taken to the gallows?
We don’t talk about that.
Talking about Yakub Memon, what were his feelings when he was walking to the gallows?
See, I can’t talk about them. Neither would I know what was going on in their minds, nor can I talk much about them.
But till the end he (Yakub Memon) told me and he was very confident that the Supreme Court would intervene and he would get some respite. This much I can say he was very confident.
In the same chapter My Two Eyes, you said you helped Yakub Memon’s wife and daughter get a passport.
Would you think, given the way the right wing trolls people these days, you should have mentioned that you helped Yakub Memon’s wife get a passport?
I have written what exactly happened in all my chapters. So when I have written about his hanging why should I hide the fact that I helped (Yakub Memon’s wife and daughter get a passport)?
In fact, I feel this is an ultimate compliment to the Indian criminal justice system that the wife of an accused expects and gets the due justice to herself and her child. So I feel that this shows basic human values where we are supposed to help each other.
Also understanding the concept (of justice and who is a criminal is important) that if a father commits a crime you cannot hold his child or wife responsible (for his crime).
With that thought I could separate myself as an officer instructed to hang a convict and as an officer who was in a position to help his wife and child who were innocent and who had faith that they will get their lawful due. That is a passport in this case.
The then Maharashtra home minister R R Patil was insisted that you remain personally present during the hanging of Ajmal Kasab. Why was he so tense?
What was worrying him about Ajmal Kasab?
Did he have information that he could be assassinated?
There was some intelligence report that Pakistan did not want to get implicated. He was their citizen. And to show that India doesn’t follow the rule of law, there was some intelligence that he’ll be killed before the whole process — after sessions court, high court, Supreme Court, mercy petition before the governor, the President — was completed; they (Pakistani intelligence agencies) will somehow manage to kill him.
The government was very keen that we should not only show to our own citizens, but also internationally, that we follow proper (lawful) procedure. The information or intelligence that this proper procedure will be sabotaged midway made them go for total secrecy in (Kasab’s) hanging
Was this based on on intelligence?
I don’t think it was local intelligence. Though it was never discussed with me, I am fully aware that this kind of intelligence comes from reliable top sources, not the local kind.