With just a couple of days left for the 26/11 court to pronounce its judgment in the Mumbai terror attack case, prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam on Saturday said the case was a big challenge, but is confident that he will secure conviction of its perpetrator Ajmal Kasab and two Indian conspirators.
Nikam, who has an enviable track record of securing death penalty for 37 accused and life term to 627 in his career spanning over three decades, is confident that Kasab, the lone 26/11 gunman captured, will be punished despite his repeated attempts to "misguide" the court.
'Kasab ka hisaab zaroor hoga (Kasab will be made accountable),' he told PTI.
Nikam said the Pakistani gunman never showed any signs of remorse during the nearly yearlong trial and conducted himself very casually in the court.
"Though he appeared restless when eye-witnesses recounted the 26/11 attacks and identified him in the court, there was not even once any sign of remorse," he said.
Kasab is a trained commando and follows Al-Qaeda manual, which teaches a terrorist to misguide authorities when arrested, he said.
"But we have marshalled enough evidence against Kasab and two other accused -- Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed -- and are confident that we will succeed in nailing them," he said.
Acknowledging that the 26/11 trial was a "great challenge", Nikam said his job was not only to establish Kasab's guilt but also to "expose the veil of LeT, which used the security apparatus of Pakistan to unleash terror in Mumbai."
While Kasab has been charged for murdering 166 people and causing injuries to over 300, Ansari and Ahmed are accused of preparing the maps of terror targets and passing them on to Pakistan-based terror outfit LeT.
Nikam, who has handled several high-profile cases such as 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar bomb explosions, besides murders of music baron Gulshan Kumar and BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, rubbished Pakistan's demand for handing over Kasab for leading evidence in the separate 26/11 trial going on in that country.
"If they have any difficulty in trying the accused there, let them give us the opportunity and we shall try them in India," said the 57-year-old lawyer, who secured conviction of 100 of the 123 accused including filmstar Sanjay Dutt in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, the trial of which lasted 14 years.
"We have already served non-bailable warrants against 27 absconding accused to the Interpol and most of them are suspected to be in Pakistan. So far none of them has been arrested. But as and when they are caught they would be tried in India," said Nikam.On Kasab's mood swings, Nikam said, "He is a great actor and pretends a lot... Kasab is capable of making wild allegations against anyone, anytime. I remember, once he produced some powder wrapped in a paper and told the court that the jail authorities were poisoning his food."
The court took a serious view of his allegation and sent the sample for forensic tests and it turned out that it was rice powder, Nikam said.
The prosecutor said he is happy over wrapping up the trial in less than a year, a record in a terror case, despite having to examine as many as 658 witnesses.
For the first time, FBI officials appeared in an Indian court and tendered technical evidence to prove that terrorists were in touch with their handlers in Pakistan through cell phones during the attack and that they used Global Positioning System to reach Mumbai from Karachi on the night of 26/11, Nikam said.
Foreign witnesses tendered evidence to prove that the dingy in which the terrorists reached Mumbai's shores was fitted with Yamaha engine imported from Japan and mobile phones used during the attack were imported from China by a Pakistan-based dealer, he said.
Asked how he felt as "one man prosecution army" against a battery of lawyers representing the accused, Nikam said, "We had to maintain complete secrecy so much so that I could not tell certain things even to my wife. Being alone had its advantage but it was time-consuming."
He said the past year was very busy for him. He woke up at four every morning to decide his day's strategy.
Nikam was all praise for Judge M L Tahaliyani and the court staff who worked even on holidays to ensure rapid conduct of the trial.