[Note from Fried Eye: Views expressed are the writer’s own. The blog should NOT be taken as an official stand by Fried Eye Media. A freelance journalist based in Guwahati, the writer uses his right to express as a citizen to talk about his angst at the way the Yakub Memon execution has courted controversy.]
On July 30, something interesting happened. A man was hanged for his undeniable involvement in a terrorist attack that left 257 people dead in 1993. Strangely, a high voltage drama had built up to the point where he was hanged and it continued even after that. What was surprising was that the reactions which were flooding the social media over the event during the course of the day left me all confused. Was this man a terrorist? Or was he a hero? Either I was going nuts, or all the people with those statuses and tweets were from a stressful and sleepless night.
Yakub Memon, was hanged at about 7 am in Nagpur for his involvement in the 1993 serial blasts in Bombay that left 257 people dead. As soon as the plans for his execution was proudly announced by the Maharashtra government sometime back, all hell broke loose in the media and among certain sections of citizens who began to see him as the ultimate victim of a system which had been unfair to him. A group of activist and ‘prominent’ citizens signed a petition asking for the commutation of his death sentence. MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi even stated that Memon was being targeted because he was a Muslim. What was surprising was that a few leaders of the Congress leaders also echoed similar views. The leftists also cried their lungs out for Memon, but that was expected of them anyway. When the repeated petitions over Memon’s death sentence were reviewed and rejected by the judiciary several times, the activists resorted to something which none of us had ever dreamt of. The Supreme Court was made to open up for a case at 3 am in the morning under the supervision of the CJI. So many people have suffered injustice in this country during the course of their lifetime, but never was it felt necessary to open up the Supreme Court in the middle of the night for any of them, no matter how grave their issues might be. But this privilege was finally enjoyed by a terrorist, who many like me feel did not deserve any of this in the first place.
This activism circus, for me, brought forth the truth of this group of activists and ‘prominent’ citizens who made a spectacle of a terrorist’s hanging by converting him into a hero. This group was comprised of people who are of largely leftist leanings and whose secular credentials I dub as ‘pseudo seculars’ and not even ultra seculars as in the case in some other countries. For this group of people, everything hateful and demonic in the country can be associated with the majority community. And this is not the case in India only. The leftists in USA demonise the majority evangelists there, while the leftists in Pakistan glorify Hinduism for its inclusive nature and blame the majority Muslim mindset. This is the tragedy of leftists everywhere. They are their own worst enemy.
At first, Memon’s involvement was made to look like a lapse on part of the system and judiciary. But the truth was that there were overwhelming evidences that proved Memon was as guilty as his co-conspirators in the case. This man was responsible for the death of 257 people and was a confirmed terrorist. No amount of petition or pleas could not make the judiciary budge from their position to send this man to the gallows.
Now when that did not work out, Memon’s champions now took a different course to save his skin. They now began to harp on the point that capital punishment was inhuman and it must be abolished. I was aghast at this duplicity! These were the same people who demanded for the hanging of the Nirbhaya rapists when the issue was a burning topic. At that time, they were shouting their lungs out as to why the rapists had not been hanged yet, and why was the judicial procedure taking so long? I want to ask them one thing. Why did they not feel any such sympathy for the rapists then? Why this selective sympathy for the human rights of a terrorist who is a proven mass murderer? Did not the people who died in the blasts have their own human rights which were violated by Memon and his co-conspirators?
Death penalty happens in the rarest of rare cases. And Yakub Memon’s case merited this punishment. Not giving him the death penalty would have sent out the message to other terrorists that they can do whatever dastardly acts they want to, and they would not be given any death penalty. Why? Because there are a bunch of prominent morons among the media and activists who are ready to save your skin at any cost if you are a terrorist belonging to a particular community which has serious vote bank value. Death, for me, is the ultimate deterrent to stop anybody from committing heinous crimes like terrorism or rape. And this is exactly why we want death for the Nirbhaya rapists. Not handing out the death penalty to Memon would have been the ultimate insult to the bomb blast victims and their kin.
But does this signal a closure for the cases of the 1993 serial bomb blasts? Of course not. That is not going to happen until Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and the others are brought to justice. Let’s see if that ever happens.
Of course I will criticise the slow judicial process of this country. Memon should have been hanged years ago. There are so many grave cases pending in the courts of this country that seem to drag on forever. This disturbs me greatly, but the truth is that there can be no pronouncing of judgement till the person has been either convicted or acquitted after the due procedure. I also want to talk of the riots that preceded the blasts that had a great role to play in the unfolding of the serial blasts of 1993. The communal riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 left scores of people dead. The riots that took place in Bombay in January 1993, were the main factor behind criminals like Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon enlisting the help of Yakub and others in carrying out the deadly blasts. Most cases of those riots remain pending even today. I say this is a major shame on our judicial process as well. But here I have to ask these ‘five star’ activists as to where the hell was their conscience and concerns for these people who have been struggling with their cases for all these years? I would have been really happy if these people would have opened up the Supreme Court in the middle of the night for these wronged people instead of a proven terrorist.
A total of over 900 people died in Bombay in the post-Ayodhya riots, which included people from all faiths. I would urge all these activists and ‘prominent’ citizens to take up the causes for these people and speed up the procedures of their cases. Only three convictions have taken place in the Bombay riots cases. Why don’t these activists see to it the rest of the other culprits are brought to book too?
On the social media, many were mourning the death of Memon, and there were many others who were celebrating it. For me, this incident is something which can neither be celebrated nor mourned. We should silently take it as an act of justice, which though long delayed, has been finally served. I was jubilant when Ajmal Kasab was hanged. But that was because he was a foreigner who had attacked our country. Yakub Memon, even if a terrorist, was still one of us. It is a defeat for every Indian when a group of Indians indulge in terror activities against their own fellow countrymen. Yakub’s hanging is a sad reminder for me as to where exactly we, as a nation, have failed in the course of history. The Babri incident is something that I, as a member of the country’s majority community, feel thoroughly embarrassed about. It was an issue that remains unsolved, that was raked up with uncredible sources, and resulted in the biggest communal carnage post independence that my generation was unfortunate enough to witness. I feel it is my duty as a member of the majority to highlight the fact that the perpetrators of those riots, must be brought to book before it is too late. The convictions have been too little, and in most cases, the judicial system has disappointed us all. I believe we, as the majority community must reach out to all the minorities in this regard and atleast try to give out some sort of an apology to the victims. I have always regretted what happened at Ayodhya in 1992 and at Gujarat in 2002. I have never celebrated these incidents for any reasons whatsoever. I want that all the culprits behind these riots must be brought to book and punished as per the law. But I want them all to be convicted in a court of law with proper evidences and procedures, and not in some farcical trial that is done by the media or activists in their frenzy for publicity. If tomorrow, people like Maya Kodnani or Babu Bajrangi are handed the death sentence by a court of law for their involvement in rioting, do you think I would cry foul and call them as victims? Certainly not! I have faith in the country’s judicial system and the sentences it gives out to offenders.
In this regard, I’m reminded of a statement by Prashant Bhushan, who acted as one of Memon’s counsels. Here he said that the hanging reflects a defeat for the judiciary and that it was carried out in a haste. Let me remind him and Memon’s other counsels that had it been the case so, then the Supreme Court would not have functioned at the odd hour of 3 am to have a last hearing for the human rights of a convicted terrorist. Every consideration has been taken by the judiciary in this case when repeated petitions and pleas were heard by them. And I stand by the judiciary when they find no reason to go soft on a mass murderer like Memon. And I dare anyone to call it a vendetta against a particular community! I hope people like Owaisi keep this in mind.
I was not really surprised to see the huge turnout at Memon’s funeral. While I know that there is something grossly wrong when the collective mentality of a group of people begin to regard a terrorist as a hero, it was however fairly expected of the crowds residing in Mumbai’s areas like Mahim and Bhindi Bazar. It was due to this that police and law enforcers were already present at the procession to prevent any untoward incident from happening. From what I have heard from several accounts, people like Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon are idolised and romanticised by the people of their respective localities. The large turnout at Yakub Memon’s funeral was also largely from the fact that the Memons are one of the prominent families in Mahim. So this came as no surprise to me.
While I admit that the prevalence of such a mentality worries me, I wonder what can the state do to offer solace to such a people who have come to the point of idolising a terrorist. These are people who have been offended or wronged at some point in history. The answer is very simple here. If we can talk of closure for the victims of the bomb blasts, then we must also talk of closure for the victims of the post-Babri riots. Atleast one area where these five star activists and lawyers can use their clouts for justice is to speed up the procedures for the pending cases in the riots of Babri and Gujarat. Perhaps that is how we as a nation can make amends for these people. Or else we will have to constantly face the harsh reality where people from the Muslim community would continue to feel alienated from the rest.
Something has to be done fast here or else the situation would continue to be exploited by political rabid dogs from outfits such as MIM and Shiv Sena. And I also have a few words to those morons from the Congress party who tried to gain mileage out of this issue while stating that Memon was not given a fair trial. Let me remind people like Digvijay Singh and Shashi Tharoor that Memon was sent to the gallows after all his legal options were exhausted. But looks like these people have forgotten what their UPA government did to Afzal Guru (another convicted terrorist). His family was not even informed of his execution and his body was held back and buried in the jail. So the jokers from the Congress party are in no position to talk anything in this matter.
When you think about it, you realise it’s all connected in one way or the other. Yakub Memon, though he ended up being a terrorist, was a Chartered Accountant, and could have had a bright career in his life. It is really sad to see the course his life took and that things ultimately had to end this way. Had the Babri demolition not have happened, he could have made a great career out of his qualifications. People like Dawood and Tiger were only criminals back then. But the post Babri riots turned them all into mass murdering terrorists. This is why I stress on the fact that culprits of those riots must be brought to book as well. And when I talk of closure, I mean closure for all. If the culprits of the 2002 Gujarat riots have to be punished, then so do the people who set fire to the train at Godhra, which led to the communal carnage. And no way am I going to ever give in to thoughts of the death penalty being scrapped. We can’t afford to have any more emboldened terrorists, rapists or mass murderers doing the rounds.
In conclusion, I just want to state that you, the reader, have every right to disagree with my points. I did not write this article to prove my points to anyone or even hope that people end up agreeing with me. I wrote it so that in the midst of all the pro-Yakub Memon propaganda that some people were spreading in the media and social networks, the alternate viewpoint also needed to be brought out. I would always raise my voice, even if it remains the lone voice in a crowd that speaks a different language. We can disagree on any given point, but we can’t silence each other. Afterall, we all live in a democracy, right?
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