The Times of India on Thursday frontpaged a report stating India has so far spent over Rs 30 crore on keeping the lone Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab in Arthurd Road central jail alive. The expenses are still mounting, the report said.
As India observes the first anniversary of the terror attack on Mumbai, the cash-strapped Maharashtra government has so far spent a staggering Rs 31 crore, or nearly Rs 85 lakh per day, to keep the 21-year-old terrorist from the Pakistani town of Faridkot safe and secure enough to stand trial.
Incidentally, the state is set to wind up its presentation of evidence in the ongoing trial in the special court at Arthur Road jail on Thursday. However, the trial, which began in May, is not likely to finish soon - special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam reckons it will take another two-three months to come to completion.
``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 told TOI. Of course, the Rs 31 crore figure is strictly unofficial since the government is wary of letting out any information on Kasab.
On the post-terror attack expenditure, the official said, 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.
``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,'' he said.
Besides the special prison cell, another cell was created inside JJ Hospital for Kasab's treatment.
``We spent nearly Rs 1 crore for the creation of a bullet-proof cell on the JJ Hospital premises. But he was never taken there, instead, doctors were summoned to the Arthur Road jail, whenever Kasab had a health problem,'' he said. Incidentally, Kasab, who was wounded before being captured, has been attended to by anywhere between 16-24 doctors for his various ailments in the past year.
The official pointed out that there was also a huge outgo on deployment of central forces to guard the Arthur Road jail and towards payment of fees for the public prosecutor and lawyers appearing for Kasab.
``It's a costly affair, but we had no option,'' he said.
Meanwhile, home minister R R Patil, who was asked to resign, following public anger over police inaction during 26/11, has promised full security to the city on Thursday. ``Nothing should happen tomorrow,'' Patil, whose reappointment in the new government raised quite a few eyebrows, said on Wednesday. What may have added to his confidence is the fact that an NSG battalion with 258 commandos has already landed in the city from Delhi as a security-boosting measure.
Patil also told TOI that while 15,000 police vacancies had been filled in the last year, another 21,000 posts were still vacant.
Parliament on Thursday remembered those killed in the terror strike in Mumbai on this day last year with the Lok Sabha resolving to unitedly fight and defeat the forces of terrorism which pose the "gravest threat to humanity".
The first anniversary of 26/11 terror attack saw Chairman Hamid Ansari making a reference in the Rajya Sabha, saying the "indomitable spirit of humankind cannot be subdued by such senseless acts of violence."
Members in both Houses stood in silence for a minute in memory of those killed.
"The House salutes the indomitable courage of the security forces who gave a crushing blow to the terrorists on November 26, 2008 and the fortitude of the people of Mumbai," the Speaker said.
The Lower House also asked the government to take all necessary steps to "wipe out the scourge of terrorism from our country".
"On this day the House resolves that we will unitedly fight and defeat the forces of terrorism and never again allow them to spill the blood of innocent people," Kumar said.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Chairman recalled the way Mumbai quickly attained normalcy after the terrorist attack. This "speaks volumes for the resolve of our people to confront and defeat the evil designs of those wishing to destabilise the nation and disrupt its progress," he said.
Noting that terrorism has no justification whatsoever in a civilised world, Kumar said it was the duty of every country, which wanted to see peace and progress, to resist and defeat these "dark forces of terrorism".
"Realising the global network of terrorists and their unlimited resources, sophisticated arms and training and their diabolic mindset, there is an urgent need to mobilise the resources and coordinate action by all countries to track down and eliminate these enemies of mankind," she said.
The Lok Sabha, she said, is the of the firm view that with strong will and determined action, "we will be able to effectively counter terrorism. PTI