India media express mixed feelings over Qasab execution

Karuna, wife of a victim of the 2008 Mumbai attacks Thakur Budha Vaghela, breaks down as she watches with her son Neeraj the news of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab"s execution, in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Nov. 21
Image caption The execution, a paper said, brought victims' families 'closer to closure'

Indian newspapers have expressed mixed feelings about the execution of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, the sole surviving gunman in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Some papers praised the execution and said it would bring the victims closure but others warned that no pleasure should be taken in capital punishment.

The Pakistani national was executed in prison in Pune city on Wednesday.

The attacks claimed 166 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.

The 60-hour siege of Mumbai began on 26 November 2008 and targeted a railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre.

Qasab and an accomplice carried out the assault on the main railway station, killing 52 people. He was convicted of murder and other crimes in May 2010. The Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in August.

'Grim responsibility'

A Puppet's Life Ends On A String, The Times of India newspaper said in its headline.

Though the newspaper said it did not "enthusiastically endorse capital punishment", there were "legal, moral as well as practical reasons for awarding the death penalty" to Qasab.

The newspaper said India had to be vigilant against terror attacks.

"Qasab may have become history, but terror hasn't and that's something India can ill afford to forget. Sustaining the pressure on Pakistan to bring the planners of 26/11 to justice is an important part of the task ahead but by no means all of it," the newspaper said.

"Beefing up our own anti-terror mechanism is just as crucial."

26/11 Butcher Hanged, Hindustan Times said in its headline.

"The horror [of the Mumbai attacks] will diminish just a little with the hanging of the lone surviving attacker... in a move that has been fervently welcome all around," the newspaper said.

"Coming as it does days before the fourth anniversary of the attack, it will bring the families of those who lost loved ones one step closer to closure, though the scars of the day can never really heal."

Qasab Hanged, India Rejoices, The Pioneer newspaper said in its headline.

The Hindu said it was "no surprise" that Qasab's execution was "greeted with approval across the country".

"No loss of human life, however despicable the individual might have been, ought to be a reason for celebration. Instead, this should be a time of national reflection: reflection about crime, about punishment and about that cherished bedrock of our republic, justice," the newspaper said.

"It is... a sobering fact that criminals responsible for claiming more Indian lives than Qasab did - among them, the perpetrators of countless communal riots - live as free men. Not one of these things excuse or mitigate Qasab's crime. But they do make it imperative to ask: is the hangman's justice the only kind we can conceive of?"

The Indian Express echoed this view, saying that it was "unseemly" that the execution "should be received with a jingoistic glee, with some like Gandhian activist Anna Hazare, regretting that Qasab was not given a public hanging".

"A death penalty is a grim responsibility. As long as capital punishment exists in the statute book, the government must follow due procedure with utter sobriety," the newspaper said.

"It must not contribute to, or cede space for, a petty politics to surround these cases."