‘I’m Not Fighting Kasab’s Case As A Muslim’

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Abbas Kazmi
Photo: AP

You took over as 26/11 accused Ajmal Kasab’s lawyer amid huge controversy over the issue. Why?
The Supreme Court has held that every accused has the Constitutional right to legal defence. If Kasab doesn’t get a lawyer, he will go scot free. I’m not on a personal mission to defend Kasab; I told the judge that I would take up the case only if no one else was willing. The allegation by the earlier lawyer, Anjali Waghmare, that I was responsible for her ouster was also untrue. Though there is a threat to my life and to that of my children, I’m defending Kasab to give an accused man a fair trial. This is a case with serious ramifications. The world is watching.

Kasab’s earlier lawyers have been attacked by parties like the Shiv Sena. Have you received any threats?
No. I also have adequate security. What hurts me, however, is certain sections of my own community who are urging me to withdraw from the case.

They say that your defense of Kasab will malign the image of Muslims and send a wrong signal.
I understand, but I’m not fighting this case as a Muslim, I’m fighting it as a citizen of India, in the national interest. Religion should be kept away from this issue.

You made headlines when you filed an application for the retraction of Kasab’s confession.
Kasab states he was tortured and beaten by the police and coerced into giving the confession. Most of the content in the confession looks forced and sounds concocted, such as the mention of a Pakistani Army major training him. The issue will be decided after I cross-examine those who took the confession.

Why have you said that Kasab should be tried in juvenile court? Also, Kasab now says that he cannot understand the court’s proceedings, but earlier he had told the court that he had no difficulty. Aren’t these developments merely ploys on your part?
How do you know Kasab could understand anything? Also, whether he is a juvenile or not will only be established after various tests.

The entire country saw Kasab opening fire at VT station. He is charged with 166 murders. How will you defend him?
I know it looks like an open and shut case, but that’s where my job begins. For starters, Kasab was not even at the Oberoi and the Taj, where most people were killed.

But wasn’t Kasab part of the conspiracy?
That is yet to be proved.

Kasab has asked for a Pakistani lawyer. Has he agreed to be represented by you?
Yes. He has been cooperating with me on every count.

‘Kasab was not at the Oberoi and Taj, where most people were killed. Still he is charged with 166 cases’

Has he spoken of the details of the conspiracy? Does he have any regrets?
I am Kasab’s lawyer and therefore cannot divulge some things. They will be revealed in court at the appropriate time.

There is great public anger against Kasab. How do you think you will be able to tackle the case?
The entire point of taking up the case is to honour our Constitution. India is not a country that encourages lynch mobs. We have laws which should be followed for everybody. If Kasab is guilty, his guilt should be proved through a fair trial. That is my endeavour.

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