'The idea was not just to kill those hundreds of people,' historian Ramachandra Guha tells Sheela Bhatt, 'the idea was to provoke people against Muslims.'
'It is really shocking that Pakistan is in denial about what happened in Mumbai.'
"The (Ajmal) Kasab chapter may not be closed," feels Ramachandra Guha, historian and self-confessed "passionate moderate."
Asked if the Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist's execution will close an ugly chapter, Dr Guha exclaimed, "Not necessarily!" and added, "He may become a martyr in Pakistan, we don't know. There are some crazy people (in Pakistan). That is possible, by the way."
Dr Guha's new book, Patriots and Partisans, which was launched on Tuesday, deals with a variety of subjects including Hindutva, the Maoists and ethnic regionalism.
The historian was reluctant to speak about the execution since the event is too close for scrutiny from a historical perspective.
Speaking exclusively to Rediff.com, Dr Guha said, "What happened in 2008 was horrific. I think it was clearly done with the compliance of a section of Pakistan's establishment. It was done with the intention of polarising Hindu and Muslim public opinion. I don't want to comment so soon about whether Kasab should have been hanged or granted mercy."
"I am, normally, against hanging. This act was so horrific. It was barbaric killing. The idea was not just to kill those hundreds of people, but the idea was to provoke people against Muslims. When this was done, virtually no Pakistani intellectual spoke up against it.
"It is really shocking that Pakistan is in denial about what happened in Mumbai and how," Dr Guha said. "And look at the dignity with which we behaved. The dignity with which ordinary Hindus and Muslims of Mumbai behaved was there for all to see. They didn't succumb to the provocation."
"One of the good things that (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh did was he resisted the pressure to bomb Pakistan."