Shiv Sainiks might have pelted stones at Anjali Waghmare’s home in Worli, and they might have made her think about her decision to agree to defend Ajmal Aamir Kasab in court, but the truth will stand. The lone terrorist alive (and captured) out of the team that attacked the Taj Hotel in Mumbai on 26/11 must go to court with a lawyer. And that lawyer will have to come out of our indigenous ranks. People might wonder why he needs a lawyer when what he has done is known to the whole world. Many might even ask why we’ve not hanged him yet. But hold that thought, for justice is not so easy to administer.
One thing we all will agree is he is guilty. But of what crimes he is guilty is not yet established. We do not know how many people died from his bullets. And we do not know how much of the plan was executed by him. We also do not know what was his motive behind this act. Yes, the whole operation qualifies as an attack on India as a country, but did Kasab take part in it because he had a thirst to kill citizens of India, or did he do it to support his family? More interestingly, is Kasab a terrorist, or in some way a prisoner of war? These questions, mind you, cannot be answered by the police who interrogated him, but by the court which will hear his case.
From the point of view of universal law (and Indian law, for that matter) as well, a defendant must be provided with a lawyer, no matter how concrete the evidence is, and no matter what the nature of the charges are. This is to ensure a fair trial. Technically too, any criminal case has a prosecution and a defence counsel, which ensure the hearing is not lopsided. Even Adolf Eichmann was allowed a lawyer, though the events that preceded his trial have been a topic of much debate for their accountability. Hence, if we are putting Kasab on trial, we must give him a lawyer.
If we do not allow Ajmal Aamir Kasab a lawyer, it is certain that if the Pakistani Police implicates any Indian expat in some kind of terrorist act in Pakistan, it will result in an automatic execution. Worse than that, another A.R. Antulay may surface and claim that Hindutva agents are not allowing Kasab to have a lawyer because then Hindu extremists in India who allegedly carried out the 26/11 attacks, according to him, would be exposed. Hence, benevolent India must give to the most sensational villain of our time a gift: a tryst with justice.