MUMBAI: Guess how much India is spending on keeping the sole surviving 26/11 Pakistani terrorist alive and healthy in prison? Over Rs 30 crore and counting.
As India observes the first anniversary of the terror attack on Mumbai, the cash-strapped Democratic Front government in Maharashtra has so far spent a staggering Rs 31 crore, or nearly Rs 8.5 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. 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 RR Patil, who was asked to resign, following public anger over police inaction during 26/11, has promised full security to the city. “Nothing should happen,” said Patil, whose reappointment in the new government raised quite a few eyebrows. 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.