Residents of the home village of a Pakistani man sentenced to death by an Indian court for the 2008 Mumbai assault condemned his conviction on Thursday, saying he paid a price of being Pakistani and it was a conspiracy.
The residents of Farid Kot, a dusty village in Pakistan's farming belt in Punjab province, said Mohammad Ajmal Kasab was being punished for being Pakistani.
"He is Pakistani, that's why he is going to be hanged," said Mohammad Ramazan, a retired village school teacher.
"It's a conspiracy."
The young man was claimed to be the only one captured alive of 10 gunmen who carried out the coordinated attacks on landmarks in India's financial capital in November 2008, killing 166 people.
An Indian court sentenced Kasab to death on Thursday, two days after finding him guilty of the three-day rampage.
A Mumbai court found Kasab guilty on more than 80 charges, including waging war on India and murder.
The Mumbai assault, blamed on the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), brought to a halt peace talks between the uneasy neighbours.
The LeT has been fighting Indian forces in the disputed Muslim-majority Kashmir region since the early 1990s.
Pakistan denied any state involvement in the Mumbai assault and is prosecuting seven suspected fighters for their roles.
But it says India has not provided enough evidence to prosecute LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who India accuses of.
"We are not terrorists"
Another Farid Kot resident, Mohammad Ramazan, said he believed Kasab was not involved.
"It's a conspiracy against Pakistan because whenever some incident happens in India, they immediately blame Pakistan," he said as about a dozen villagers looked on..
"Farid Kot has being portrayed as a village harbouring terrorists since this attack. We are peace-loving people, we are not terrorists," he said.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said its legal experts would examine the Indian court's detailed judgement.
"Pakistan has strongly condemned the horrific Mumbai attack. It is important that culprits are brought to justice," ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told a briefing.
The sentencing came a week after the prime ministers of India and Pakistan held talks in Bhutan and asked officials to take steps to normalise relations.
Kasab was filmed walking through Mumbai's main train station carrying an AK-47 rifle and a knapsack on his back. Nearly 60 people were gunned down in the crowded station.
The sentence must be confirmed by a higher court and can be appealed. The last execution in India was in 2004.
Asma Jahangir, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said her organisation was opposed to the death penalty.
"From what I have seen in the press, he was given a lawyer and the trial was conducted in a seemingly fair manner. What we are against is the sentence," she said.
ReutersLast Mod: 06 Mayıs 2010, 23:23