The death penalty is one of those subjects which divides people’s opinions and leaves them stranded on opposite sides of a vast canyon with no bridge in sight.
Europeans generally are overwhelmingly against it, most Americans aren’t. China’s a big fan of it, India says it isn’t but…there are several hundred people on death row in the country, but only one has been executed in the last ten years.
But when Pakistani born Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was recently sentenced to death it seemed like it was a done deal from the start. What chance after all did the the only surviving gunman of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai have in front of a Mumbai Special Court?
South Asia Wired did its own poll and found Mumbaikers overwhelmingly in favour of the death penalty verdict. But according to Special Prosecutor Ujwal Nikam, public sentimenet couldn’t come into play in the Indian judicial system. “It’s only the rare special cases that get the death penalty” he says, and Kasab’s cases certainly fits in that category.
Mihir Desai is former director of the Indian Centre for Human Rights and Law and vehemently opposed to the death penalty but agrees that if this hadn’t been the verdict, there would have been an enormous public outcry.