Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, the only surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has been executed by hanging.
The Pakistani national’s plea for mercy to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee was rejected earlier this month.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab was executed in prison in Pune early on Wednesday, the Home Ministry said.
The 60-hour siege of Mumbai began on 26 November 2008. Attacks on the railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre claimed 166 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab and an accomplice carried out the assault on the main railway station, killing 52 people.
He was convicted of murder and other crimes in May 2010. The Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in August.
Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil said Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab was hanged in the Yerawada prison at 07:30 a.m.
“This is a tribute to all innocent people and police officers who lost their lives in this heinous attack on our nation,” RR Patil was quoted as telling reporters by the Associated Press news agency.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab did not leave behind a will and was buried inside the jail, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said.
Senior officials in Delhi said Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab’s family members had been informed about the execution “through a letter sent by courier”.
In Delhi, federal Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said he signed Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab’s execution order on 7 November, two days after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his clemency petition.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, the only surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has been executed by hanging
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, who had been held in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, was moved to Pune’s Yerawada prison two days ago, Prithviraj Chavan said.
“We kept secrecy. It was important to maintain secrecy in this matter,” Sushil Kumar Shinde said, adding that Pakistan had been informed of the execution.
The Indian government was under pressure to act against a man who carried out one of the deadliest attacks in the country.
But the swiftness and secrecy in which the execution took place would have come as a surprise to many, our correspondent adds.
Commenting on Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab’s execution, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Moazzam Ali Khan said: “We condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestation… We are willing to co-operate and work closely with all countries of the region to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.”
But Pakistan-based banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT], which was blamed for the Mumbai attacks, hailed Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab as a “hero”. He would “inspire other fighters to follow his path”, an unnamed LeT commander was quoted by Reuters as saying.
The Pakistani Taliban were “shocked” by the hanging, Reuters quoted Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan as saying.
There has been no information yet on Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab’s last few days, but his lawyer Raju Ramachandran, who argued his case in the Supreme Court, told Reuters that Qasab was a “worried man” when he last met him in August, before the court upheld his death sentence.
He was scared that he would be hanged and asked the lawyer: “Can you please help me get out of jail?”
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab was part of a 10-member group which arrived in Mumbai by sea on 26 November.
The men split into groups to attack various targets. Their siege of the Taj Hotel, Trident Hotel and a Jewish centre went on for more than two days.
Closed-circuit TV camera showed Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab and an accomplice opening fire on passengers at one of Mumbai’s busiest train stations, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
Relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated sharply after India blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attacks.
After initial denials, Pakistan acknowledged that the assault had been partially planned on its territory and that Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab was a Pakistani citizen. Ties have been gradually improving since then.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab’s execution was the first in India since a man convicted of raping and killing a schoolgirl was hanged in the eastern city of Calcutta in 2004.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab
- Pakistani citizen from Punjab province.
- Reports say he received little education, and spent his youth alternating between laboring and petty crime
- Was 21 years old when he carried out the attacks in Mumbai in 2008
- India says he was trained for Mumbai operation by Lashkar-e-Taiba group in a remote camp
- Captured on camera at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a slight figure in combat trousers and a sweatshirt, clutching an assault rifle
- Prosecutors said he had confessed but his lawyers then said his statement had been coerced, and it was retracted
Power supply in India has been fully restored after a two-day blackout hit much of the country, officials say.
More than 600 million people were affected by the power cut after three electricity grids collapsed, one for a second consecutive day.
The power failure caused havoc, with whole cities grinding to a halt and transport and other services badly hit.
The breakdowns in the northern, eastern and north-eastern grids affected 20 of India’s 28 states.
Power System Operation Corporation chief SK Soonee said electricity had been restored in all three grids overnight on Tuesday by engineers from the state-owned company.
The blackout caused chaos on transport networks with hundreds of trains stranded and water supplies interrupted.
Power supply in India has been fully restored after a two-day blackout hit much of the country
In Delhi, Metro services were halted and staff evacuated trains. Many traffic lights in the city failed, leading to massive traffic jams.
Other areas affected included Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan in the north, and West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand in the east.
In the eastern state of West Bengal, around 200 miners were trapped underground as lifts failed, but officials later said they had all been rescued.
One shopworker in Delhi, Anu Chopra, 21, said: “I can understand this happening once in a while but how can one allow such a thing to happen two days in a row?
“It just shows our infrastructure is in a complete mess. There is no transparency and no accountability whatsoever.”
In a statement on national TV on Tuesday evening, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde blamed the crisis on states taking more than their quota of power from the national grid.
He said he had appealed to states to stop this and instructed his officials to penalize those states which did.
But officials in Uttar Pradesh, one of the states blamed in the Indian media, said there was “no reason to believe” they were at fault.
Anil K. Gupta, the chairman of the state’s power company, called for “further investigation to ascertain the real cause”.
The power minister of Haryana state, Captain Ajay Singh, was quoted by NDTV as saying his was not the only state with overdraw from the grid.
“We are not to be blamed for the technical snag that tripped the grid,” he said.
“We are simply being blamed for what everyone does.”
Also on Tuesday it was announced that Sushil Kumar Shinde had been promoted to the post of home minister, in a widely anticipated cabinet reshuffle.
He has been replaced by the current corporate affairs minister, Veerappa Moily.
Power cuts are common in Indian cities because of a fundamental shortage of power and an ageing grid – the chaos caused by such cuts has led to protests and unrest on the streets in the past.
But the collapse of an entire grid is rare – the last time the northern grid failed was in 2001.
India’s demand for electricity has soared in recent years as its economy has grown but its power infrastructure has been unable to meet the growing needs.
Correspondents say unless there is a huge investment in the power sector, the country will see many more power failures.
A massive power outage has caused disruption across northern India, including in the capital, Delhi.
It hit a vast swathe of the country affecting more than 300 million people in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan states.
Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said 60% of the supply had been restored and the rest would be reinstated soon.
It is unclear why supply collapsed, but states using more power than they were authorized to could be one reason.
Sushil Kumar Shinde said he had appointed a committee to inquire into the causes of the blackout, one of the worst to hit the country in more than a decade.
A massive power outage has caused disruption across northern India, including in the capital, Delhi
The outage happened at 02:30 local time on Monday after India’s Northern Grid network collapsed.
Monday morning saw travel chaos engulf the region with thousands of passengers stranded when train services were disrupted in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
Delhi Metro railway services were stalled for three hours, although the network later resumed service when it received back-up power from Bhutan, one official said.
Traffic lights on the streets of the capital were not functioning as early morning commuters made their way into work, leading to gridlock.
Water treatment plants in the city also had to be shut for a few hours.
Officials said restoring services to hospitals and transport systems were a priority.
Power cuts are a common occurrence in Indian cities because of a fundamental shortage of power and an ageing grid. The chaos caused by such cuts has led to protests and unrest on the streets.
Earlier in July, crowds in the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon blocked traffic and clashed with police after blackouts there.
Correspondents say that India urgently needs a huge increase in power production, as hundreds of millions of its people are not even connected to the national grid.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has long said that India must look to nuclear energy to supply power to the people.
Estimates say that nuclear energy contributes only 3% to the country’s current power supply. But the construction of some proposed nuclear power stations have been stalled by intense local opposition.