Among the several revelations that Rakesh Maria has made about Ajmal Kasab, convicted and executed for the Mumbai terror attack of 26/11, in his book Let Me Say It Now, the former Mumbai Police Commissioner shared the information that the handlers of the terrorist, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), had given him Rs 1.25 lakh before he left for India as the cost for the marriage of his sister. During his interrogation, Kasab told the police his terror trainers in Pakistan had told him Muslims were not allowed to offer prayers in India. When the police showed him huge crowds of Muslims offering namāz (salāh) in public places, he was surprised, Maria’s book says.
The retired police officer said in his book that Kasab did not initially join Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for terrorist activities. Kasab had rather joined the LeT for petty looting and he couldn’t care less about jihad. However, his handlers indoctrinated him, vitiating his mind about India by telling him Muslims in India were oppressed, which would motivate him to strike this country.
Maria mentioned in the book that Kasab was shocked when he was allowed a visit with a tight security cover to a mosque near the Metro Cinema of Mumbai. He could not believe that Muslims in India could read namāz as he had been told to the contrary.
According to the former police officer, the LeT gave him a week off and Rs 1.25 lakh before sending him on the mission to attack Mumbai. Kasab gave that money to his family for his sister’s wedding before setting sail for India.
Maria says in the book that the LeT tried to project the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack as an instance of ‘Hindu terrorism’, which has stirred the BJP to attack the archrival INC who, the ruling party has alleged, was complicit in the diversionary tactic of the Pakistanis as that suited the narrative set by P Chidambaram and Sushilkumar Shinde that there is indeed such a thing as Hindu terrorism. The LeT had a plan, Maria says, wherein Kasab would be passed off as Sameer Chaudhary of Bengaluru once he was killed. They did not expect him to survive the counterattack by Indian security forces.
Let Me Say It Now, released on Monday, referred to Maria’s investigation into the 26/11 Mumbai attack that the LeT had planned with the state connivance of Pakistan.
As per the excerpts from the book, when Kasab was imprisoned, the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and LeT tried to eliminate him in jail so that their plot does not unravel. Dawood Ibrahim’s gang was tasked to eliminate him, says the book.
A member of the gang, Chhota Shakeel, once believed to have separated himself from Dawood, has denied they had a ‘supari’ (contract) to kill Kasab.
Describing the LeT’s plan to project the Mumbai terror attack as an instance of ‘Hindu terrorism’, Maria wrote if the handlers’ plans had succeeded, “… he (Kasab) would have been dead with a red string tied around his wrist like a Hindu. We would have found an identity card on his person with a fictitious name: Samir Dinesh Chaudhari, student of Arunodaya Degree and PG College, Vedre Complex, Dilkhushnagar, Hyderabad, 500060, resident of 254, Teachers Colony, Nagarabhavi, Bengaluru.”
Maria said that the terrorist organisation had given the band of 10 militants fake identity cards along with Indian addresses of each.
There is a hint of the then Indian government’s complicity that the BJP is speaking about in the part where the retired officer says the relatable picture of Kasab released after the terror attack “was the work of central agencies”. In view of the security, Mumbai Police tried its best to not reveal any details to the media, Maria has written.
In the picture, Kasab’s right wrist was seen tied with a red thread, which Muslims don’t wear; only some Hindus do. This prompted many to believe that the conspirators had tried to portray the 26/11 attack as an act of ‘Hindu terrorism’.
“There would have been screaming headlines in newspapers claiming how Hindu terrorists had attacked Mumbai. Over the top TV journalists would have made a beeline for Bengaluru to interview his family and neighbours. But alas, it had not worked that way and here he was, Ajmal Amir Kasab of Faridkot in Pakistan,” Maria wrote in the book.
The Mumbai terror attack on 26 November 2008 left 166 people dead. More than 300 people were injured. In this attack, terrorist Kasab was caught alive, tried, convicted and hanged. He was executed on 21 November 2012 after then President of India Pranab Mukherjee rejected his plea for clemency (commuting the pleader’s death sentence to life imprisonment).