Mumbai attack gunman Qasab executed
November 21, 2012, 00:00 GMT
Qasab was found guilty of mass murder in May 2010
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, the sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has been hanged.
The Pakistani national's plea for mercy to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee was rejected earlier this month.
He was executed in prison in Pune early on Wednesday, the Home Ministry said.
The 60-hour siege of Mumbai began on 26 November 2008. Attacks on the railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre claimed 166 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.
Qasab and an accomplice carried out the assault on the main railway station, killing 52 people.
He was convicted of murder and other crimes in May 2010. The Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in August.
'Need for secrecy'
Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil said Qasab was hanged in the Yerawada prison at 0730 (0200 GMT).
"This is a tribute to all innocent people and police officers who lost their lives in this heinous attack on our nation," Mr Patil was quoted as telling reporters by the Associated Press news agency.
Qasab did not leave behind a will and was buried inside the jail, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said.
Senior officials in Delhi said Qasab's family members had been informed about the execution "through a letter sent by courier".
In Delhi, federal Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said he had signed Qasab's execution order on 7 November, two days after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his clemency petition.
Qasab, who had been held in Mumbai's Arthur Road jail, was moved to Pune's Yerawada prison two days ago, Prithviraj Chavan said.
"We kept secrecy. It was important to maintain secrecy in this matter," Mr Shinde said, adding that Pakistan had been informed of the execution.
The Indian government was under pressure to act against a man who carried out one of the deadliest attacks in the country, says the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi.
But the swiftness and secrecy in which the execution took place would have come as a surprise to many, our correspondent adds.
Qasab's execution was the first in India since a man convicted of raping and killing a schoolgirl was hanged in the eastern city of Calcutta in 2004.
Relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated sharply after India blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attacks.
After initial denials, Pakistan acknowledged that the assault had been partially planned on its territory and that Qasab was a Pakistani citizen. Ties have been gradually improving since then.
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