Agencies, New Delhi India today expressed disappointment at the quantum of punishment given to Lashkar operative and co-conspirator of the Mumbai terror attacks David Coleman Headley, saying he deserved a much harsher sentence.
Talking to reporters, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Headley would have been given much harsher punishment had he been tried here. The Opposition BJP demanded capital punishment for the culprit in the same way it was given to Ajmal Amir Kasab. “It is we who have suffered, so it would be proper to put Headley to trial here in India,’’ Mr Khurshid said. He, however added, ‘’But there is a legal system in the US that we know.
“If the trial would have been held here, the punishment would have been much more severe…. Anyway, we will still try to extradite him to India,’’ said the External Affairs Minister. Replying to a related question he said ‘’… the fact that an American court has recognised the role of an accused in perpetrating this crime in India is at least a good beginning. We would have liked a severe sentence, and as I said we would have liked the accused to be tried in India. But at least a beginning has been made. We will continue our efforts to ensure that all such people are extradited and brought to India for trial.’’ Asked what action he proposed on Headley’s accomplice Tahawwur Rana, Mr Kurshid said the same, but sought to point out that there was a little difference between the two cases because in this case, he had given up his right of appeal; in the other case the right of appeal had not been given up.
“So we continue to watch these cases very closely, and such legal intervention as we can make at any time we will continue to do so,’’ he said. Headley, a Pakistani-American who co-conspired the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, was sentenced to 35 years in prison by an American court yesterday. Reacting to the American court decision, the BJP said nothing less than capital punishment would have been appropriate in the case. ‘’Just as Amir Ajmal Kasab had been given death sentence, Headley must have got the same kind of sentence,’’ BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said. The Congress had also expressed disappointment over the punishment given to Headley. Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said Headley committed crime in India, so he should have been handed over to India for trial. He would have been given a much harder punishment here, he said.