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26/11 widow doesn't favour death for Kasab

May 05, 2010 15:17 IST

As Ajmal Kasab awaits punishment after being held guilty in the Mumbai attacks, the widow of an American killed in the terror strikes says she does not favour death penalty for the Pakistani gunman and prefers him to be jailed for life.

Kia Scherr, whose 13-year-old daughter was also killed in the 26/11 strikes, further said she is planning to visit India later this year and would especially like to meet "the families of those who lost their lives in the attack" in November 2008. "I have never favoured the death penalty. More killing does not solve anything. Kasab should remain in the Indian prison system for life. In the meantime, I favour rehabilitation and education," Scherr told PTI in an e-mail statement.

Kasab will be sentenced on Thursday by a special court in Mumbai with the prosecution demanding the death penalty, branding him a killing machine manufactured in Pakistan. Scherr's husband, Virginia resident Alan Scherr, and their daughter Naomi were at Mumbai's Oberoi Hotel when Kasab along with nine other Pakistani terrorists held the city hostage for three days killing 166 people, including six Americans.

Terming the court's guilty verdict as "appropriate", Scherr said "I do think this verdict of guilty for Ajmal Kasab will bring some closure to the families of the victims". Planning to visit India later this year, Scherr said she would like to meet the people of Mumbai. "Mr Oberoi, the owner of the Oberoi Hotel, where my husband and daughter were killed, is in support of our message and has agreed to be an honorary member of our Board of Advisors. He invited us to be his guests when we come to Mumbai," she said. Scherr said if Kasab could be moved to tell the truth, he could "perhaps prevent more young men from joining the terrorist groups. I am open to this possibility and would be willing to have this conversation with him".

Scherr has co-founded 'One Life Alliance', an organisation that helps "continue the conversation about how life is sacred", a message that, she said, has emerged as a response to the terror attacks. "Our message is to honour the sacredness of all life, first in ourselves and then in each other. By living this message in our daily lives, we activate love, compassion and forgiveness. We shift from competition and conflict to collaboration. We can solve all our problems if we consider what works for everyone," she added. Alan was in Mumbai to scout locations for a meditation centre when the terror strikes happened.

Scherr said if those terrorists and Mumbai attacks conspirator David Headley had been taught the sacredness and oneness of all life, "we would not be in this position today". Kasab has been held guilty of mass murder and waging war against India.

Yoshita Singh in Chicago
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