NEW DELHI - The lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks has applied for clemency from the Indian president in a final bid to avoid the gallows, media reports said on Tuesday. Mohammed Kasab, one of 10 gunmen who laid siege to Mumbai in attacks that lasted nearly three days, sent his petition through officials at the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai where he is being held, the Press Trust of India said.

“We have sent a mercy petition to the president filed by Kasab,” the news agency quoted a senior official at the high-security prison as saying.

Kasab was sentenced to death in May 2010 after he was found guilty of a string of charges, including waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts. He had appealed against the sentence in the Supreme Court, claiming he did not receive a fair trial, but his petition was struck down last month. Prisoners can often languish for years on death row in India, with only one execution having taken place in the last 15 years - that of a former security guard hanged in 2004 for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.

However, public demands for the hanging of Kasab have been growing ever since the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against the death sentence. During the November 2008 attacks, heavily armed Islamist gunmen stormed targets in Mumbai including luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a hospital and a bustling train station, killing 166 people. India blames the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant organisation for training, equipping and financing the gunmen with support from “elements” in the Pakistan military.

Kasab initially pleaded not guilty but later confessed, admitting he was one of the gunmen sent by the LeT.

President Pranab Mukherjee, who took office in July, is currently considering 11 other appeals for clemency from death row prisoners.