Don’t cry for Headley, India. It is good for your feeble heart that you are not able to have him extradited. There would be a hundred compelling sentiments to get hold of the delinquent, a thousand compelling logics to twist his throat, but the question is, are you up to it? In a land where millions retire to the gloom of the night with ‘ash in their bellies’, millions were spent on safe-keeping of a butcher like Azmal Kasab. Indeed, some have doubted whether he was ever executed. They say it was the graceful embrace of Dengue that brought him death and the charade of his hanging was a massive gloss over the shame of not being able to avenge the hundreds slaughtered in the infamous 26/11 Mumbai attack.
Maybe you actually hung him up alive as he breathed, but why this epic hush up? That is fine if you believe to have unfurled Operation Neptune Spear II, but then really? Was Kasab’s execution as upscale a manoeuvre as the capture and summary decimation of Osama Bin Laden? Were you apprehensive of Pakistan launching a full-fledged nuclear fusillade just before the final act in case a schedule of his hanging was to be announced? Come on, give me a sign! Give me a photo of the dead man walking to the gallows! And please don’t computer-generate it. I hear they computer-generated an entire tiger in a movie called ‘Life of Pi’.
The formal head of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, the President of India represents the ethos of the nation. Recently, an outgoing premier restored life to thirty five grisly death-row inmates. That she could not restore life to one already dead of natural causes was deeply regretted. I am sure you are proud of your Presidents, random slips notwithstanding.
Not that you do not incarcerate your delinquents. But they are frequently out on parole, frolicking in bars and carousels, while their purportedly sick mothers raise toasts at high power gatherings. I am sure you understand me, yet if your memory fails merely because of the sheer multiplicity of such occurrences, I am speaking of Manu Sharma. And I talk of him because I have to quote one case. To be sure, there is a legion out there. Yours is a dangerous expanse. There be dragons!
David Coleman Headley is a state witness in America. Yet, the Chicago Federal Court is likely to slap a minimum 30 years prison term on him. Contrast this to the measly three-year terms awarded to the criminals who turn state witnesses in your land.
So Headley has done his job. 26/11 has come and gone and the dead are all forgotten to all except their family and friends. And Headley has helped getting Tahawwur Rana nailed. He has also provided critical information about Mazhar Iqbal, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, and Ilyas Kashmiri, the leader of Harakat-ul-Jihad al Islami, among many other critical bits and pieces. And by the time Headely completes his term he will be 82. Well, he could still be dangerous and go on a shooting spree that is quite the trend in the west. And he may stage a 9/11 (II) and blow a couple of towers but then, hey, that will not be on your body!
Incidentally, do take care of the decapitated soldiers at the Line of Control. But more than that, do take special care of the security personnel whose entrails are being gouged out and the shells being stuffed with RDX inland.