The theatrics of Ujwal Nikam, the prosecutor in the 26/11 case is nothing new. The same man who had said that Kasab was served biriyani went ahead and withdrew that statement in a recent conference much to the disgust of the entire nation. [Maharashtra may ask Ujjwal Nikam to clarify on Ajaml Kasab's 'biryani' statement]
Let us face the fact that the case against Kasab was an open and shut one. There was enough evidence against him and it did not require any rocket science to have him convicted and sent off to the gallows. To put it bluntly, you and I could have ensured a conviction in the case of Kasab.
While the biriyani barb by Nikam is what made headlines, many have forgotten that there were two other accused in the case, Sabahuddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari who were acquitted by the trial court, the high court and the Supreme Court with strictures passed against the prosecution and the Mumbai police.
The biriyani barb:
Before we get into the failure of the prosecution in the 26/11 case, let us take a brief look at what this biriyani controversy is all about. During the trial Nikam had said that Ajmal Kasab had asked for biriyani.
However, Nikam in a recent conference said that he had cooked up that story only to divert media attention. He justified it by saying that this statement was made only because the media had reported at that time about Kasab turning emotional. I made that statement so that there should be a media trial, he added.
This biriyani statement that was made by Nikam during the trial had become a bashing point. Many had accused the administration of being soft on this hardcore terrorist. Even recently a coast guard officer while speaking about the Pakistan boat issue stated, "I did not want to serve the Paksitanis biriyani."
Such was the weight of the statement that it had become the nations favourite curse line while accusing the government of being soft on its war on terror.
What about Sabahuddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari?
What everyone tends to forget is that the prosecution led by Nikam had conducted an extremely shoddy trial in the case of Sabahuddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari. Both these persons were arrested after being accused of providing the maps to the terrorists.
The case against them resulted in acquittal not just in the trial court, but it was upheld before the High Court and the Supreme Court as well. The courts had infact come down heavily on the prosecution in this case, which many would construe as shameful for any prosecutor.
All through the trial it appeared as though the prosecution decided to focus just on Kasab and forget about the local link in the case. There are enough and more well documented files which indicate a clear local link. The Pradhan Committee which was looking into the failures by the security on 26/11 too was given information about the local links.
Saroj Kumar Rath who has written one of the best books on 26/11 titlted, "Fragile Frontiers: The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks says that there were three locals who helped carry out the attacks.
While David Headley took the support of an Indian named Basheer, Sabahuddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari too played a role in carrying out the attacks.
Both of them had Pakistani passports. They provided handmade maps to the terrorists.
The maps provided by them was found in the pocket of Ismail Khan one of the ten terrorists. Kasab too had confessed before a magistrate that two Indians had provided them handmade maps. However, the investigators were not able to relate these incidents and prove it in court.
Saroj Rath asks if there was no map, how did the Rampur police which was probing the CRPF attack case in which Fahim and Saba are accused persons, have the same map with them?
They were arrested much before the 26/11 attack case by the Rampur police and they had found the same map on them. The police carried out a shoddy probe in this regard, he also points out.
None of these aspects were presented correctly before the court and while witnessing the arguments it was clear that it was a lackluster approach on part of the police and the prosecution. It was extremely important to point out the local link in the case as these are bigger enemies of the nation.
Nikam ought to realize that he is no Perry Mason. While twists and turns may be the need of the hour during an argument, there is no need for a prosecutor to be part of demonstrations. V Balachandran former officer with the Research and Analysis Wing who was also a member of the Pradhan Committee told Oneindia that Nikam is known for his dramatics.
The high court can take suo motu notice of his statements and issue a show cause notice to him. Lying before the court is perjury and does invite punishment. The job a public prosecutor is to lead the truth and here it has been found that he was chasing publicity.
I remember there was a demonstration that had taken place which had sought the hanging of Kasab. What I failed to understand is what Nikam was doing in this demonstration. The job of the prosecutor is to find out the truth and argue in court. It is unfortunate that a public prosecutor indulged in theatrics, Balachandran also points out.