Rs 100 cr – cost of keeping Kasab alive
By the time the Kasab verdict is executed, India would have spent a tidy sum on the terrorist
The Bombay High Court has upheld the death sentence on Ajmal Kasab who was involved in the terror attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008. This verdict was on expected lines. Before you say 'at last', tarry. This is not the final call. The verdict will have to be confirmed by the Supreme Court and then it will land on the President's table where mercy petitions of nearly 30 convicts are gathering dust - some of them are under a thick blanket of political dust (example Afzal Guru).
By the time Kasab stands before the noose, he would, in all probability, become a middle-aged man. This is because the 30 guys before him would have to meet their fate as pronounced by various courts.
Considering the fact that Afzal Guru, who was involved in attacking Parliament ten years ago, is still on death row, Kasab's turn may come somewhere around 2018 or beyond. By then we would have spent close to Rs 100 crore in keeping him alive and secure.
The Maharashtra government spends close to Rs 9 lakh a day to keep the 21-year-old terrorist from the Pakistani town of Faridkot 'safe' till he goes to the gallows. The government had spent Rs 31 crore on Kasab by November 2010. The figure is close to Rs 40 crore now.
"The state's debt has crossed the Rs 1.85 lakh crore mark. But of course, where security of the state and the country is concerned, we don't discuss the financial situation,'' a senior government official was quoted in an agency report.
The Rs 31 crore figure is strictly unofficial since the government is wary of letting out any information on Kasab. Following the directives of the Centre, besides procuring weapons for emergency use, vehicles and equipment, two special cells were created inside Arthur Road jail and JJ hospital for Kasab.
The official was quoted as saying: "There was a huge expenditure on the construction of a special cell inside the high-security Arthur Road jail. It has been designed in such a manner that even if a truck laden with explosives were to ram into it, the cell would not be dented. Such safeguards are essential to protect Kasab's life - and to establish Pakistan's involvement in the attack.''
Besides the special prison cell, another cell was created inside JJ Hospital for Kasab's treatment.
Nearly Rs 1 crore was spent for the creation of a bullet-proof cell on the JJ Hospital premises for Kasab. The irony is that after the money was spent, Kasab was never taken there. Instead, doctors were summoned to the Arthur Road jail, whenever Kasab had a health problem.
And Kasab, who was wounded before being captured, has been attended to by around 20 doctors for his various ailments in the past year.
The Maharashtra government also spends a large amount on the deployment of central forces to guard the Arthur Road jail.
Apart from all this, tax-payers money was used to realign Mumbai monorail along the Arthur Road jail because Kasab is in there. Almost Rs 44 crore will be overspent to redo the monorail plans for the 720 metre stretch along the Arthur Road jail.
While no official estimate is being given for how much the monorail's cost will increase, an engineer for the company building the track revealed to a local media that the cost along the stretch could rise by as much as 45 per cent to 50 per cent.
The government also had to spend Rs 2 crore to build a 20-ft tunnel in the jail so that Kasab could go from his cell to the special court in the jail and back. Rs Rs 2 crore for 20 feet makes this construction one of the costliest one in the country.
Over 250 specialised workers were involved in making the tunnel bomb, bullet and chemical weapons proof. The special court and Kasab's cell were also reinforced with iron plates; and to beat it all, Kasab's cell, the corridor and the special court was centrally air conditioned, according to media reports.
One may ask why Kasab cannot be hanged immediately. Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily has an interesting answer:
"The question is that it is not Afzal or anybody. You know you cannot pick and choose and hang people. There is justice. Terrorists who killed Indira Gandhi are still waiting. He has to be hanged. There is one more terrorist who is involved in terrorism. He is waiting. I am not defending anyone but I am for evolving a system for mercy petitions." (And in India we all know how long it will take to 'evolve a system')
The Minister also said that there were many people waiting in the death row in Pakistan, who included Indians. "And do you want all of them to be hanged immediately ?" he asked.
He was replying a few months ago to a question on Guru on a TV channel, who is among 28 convicts whose mercy petitions are pending before the President.
Source: India Syndicate with inputs from agencies