Driven by poverty, Qasab took to crime and jihad

Published: 21 November, 2012 15:57 IST | Agencies |

Bad financial condition on the domestic front pushed a young Ajmal Amir Qasab towards a life of terrorism.

It was his father's refusal to buy him new clothes on Eid that forced a miffed Ajmal Amir Qasab to quit home, take to crime and then embrace jihad, leading to his death in India.

Until then, the now 25-year-old Qasab, who was hanged in Pune today for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, led a simple life in an impoverished part of Pakistan's Punjab province.

Ajmal Qasab, 26/11
26/11 terrorist Ajmal Qasab was hanged and buried in a Pune jail (File pic)

He belonged to a poor family. His father was a food vendor while his brother was a labourer in Lahore.

It was in 2005 that Qasab decided to quit home after quarrelling with his father who could not provide him new clothes because of poverty.

The young man soon took to petty crime and graduated to armed robbery. A chance encounter with Jama'at-ud-Da'wah, the political wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba, changed his life for ever.

It did not take long for him to sign up for training with the bitterly anti-India Lashkar.

He was last seen in his village six months before the November 2008 Mumbai carnage. Apparently, he sought blessings from his mother to wage jehad.

Qasab was among the terrorists who underwent strenuous training with the support of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

The Lashkar reportedly offered to pay his family Rs 1,50,000 for his participation in the Mumbai attack on the assumption he would become a 'shaheed' (martyr).

Qasab and nine other Pakistani terrorists sailed to Mumbai in two hijacked vessels with three targets in mind -- the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Oberoi Trident Hotel and Nariman House. Technology proved to be Qasab's undoing.

He was captured on CCTV when he unleashed mayhem at the crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus along with fellow terrorist Ismail Khan. He was filmed carrying an AK-47, ammunition and dried fruits.

Qasab and Khan then hijacked a police vehicle after killing, among others, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare.

As they drove drove towards Metro cinema, Qasab reportedly cracked jokes about the bulletproof vests worn by police. As fate would have it, one tyre suffered a puncture, so they stole another vehicle.

They ran into a police barricade at Chowpatty. Qasab and Khan tried to take a U-turn. The alert policemen opened fire, killing Khan.

A panicky Qasab pretended as if he was dead. But when assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble approached him, Qasab opened fire, killing him.

Omble took five bullets, but in an act of bravery that made him a posthumous hero, he held on to Qasab's weapon, enabling his colleagues to overpower him.

The entire incident was captured on video for posterity. Once in police custody, Qasab begged his interrogators to kill him, saying he feared for the safety of his family in Pakistan.

What followed was a long trial with ups and downs. At one point, the Pakistani claimed he was not given a fair trial.

His four-year detention ended in November when President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his pending mercy petition. Today morning, in an operation shrouded in secrecy, he was hanged in Pune's Yerawada Jail. 

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