After Yakub Memon’s execution. Now what?

Dead end for Yakub Memon. Cartoon by @MANJULtoonsDead end for Yakub Memon. Cartoon by @MANJULtoons

So was finally hanged this morning. The did a dramatic early morning hearing to hear the challenge to the President’s rejection of Yakub Memon’s mercy petition, and Yakub lost the case.

Even if he had won it, it would have won him at best 14 more days to live. Perhaps some new trick could be pulled out of some hat and he would live for the rest of his life in jail was the hope.

He lost the petition.

There are many arguments in his favor, many against him. I myself was of the view that is an irreversible thing. While there is any redeeming factor, a death penalty seems obscene. I am no legal eagle. If someone seems polite and constructive in , that is redeeming enough for me. I hold no eagerness for the life and death of another to rest on my conscience – however evil. I have no revenge gene. That he could not do more harm was good enough for me.

Regardless of my views, it is the Supreme Court that decided and whether it was a melodramatic thing that could have been avoided with a stay and more leisurely process or not, is all a postmortem of a dead thing. So are other arguments. They will not bring him back. They will certainly feed a justified, but toxic sense of persecution among Muslims.

And they achieve nothing constructive. While the death penalty exists, it will be awarded. How often or not is immaterial. If our whole system is prejudiced against Muslims, it will reflect in the sentences and executions as well. The defeat of the death penalty itself was a goal beyond the scope of this case – or indeed every case when we suddenly wake up. It needs to be an independent war.

I am no fan of the . I think it is closet fascist – both in terms of as well as economic view. It is a toxic bunch of opportunists there whose worst sin is not even against those they persecute, but those who repose the most faith in them with expectations they have been led to believe, which are little more than carrots.

I agree that the judiciary itself is swayed by public opinion and has several and severe problems with quality (like every aspect of ). I agree socio-economic conditions are their own bias of availability of opportunities of , and prejudice in who is perceived as innocent or guilty by default more easily than another – which is possibly something that can never be proved without serious behavioral research.

Yet, flawed as it is, there is a need to stop where the system stops. There is a need to pick and choose battles when it comes to . A dead person cannot be brought back, and harping on about the injustice to him serves no purpose beyond creating distress, resentment and potentially rebellion among those who experience themselves as persecuted by association.

This will be more harmful to the vulnerable sections of society than the powerful ones – whether financially, communally or politically. Frustration and anger can take over ones life and set people on paths they would not otherwise choose. Yakub Memon himself would not be hanged if it were not for frustrations over another evil incident leading an entire group of people down a path that ruined their own lives irrevocably as well, beyond the unsuspecting others they killed. Even a big don like , who lived and breathed  can never return to his beloved place of birth again. Uprooted forever. Being a gangster is one thing, being accused of mass slaughter is another. Mumbai is no longer safe for him. He must watch over his shoulder all his life. Know that the people of the city he loves want his head for his actions. There is no coming back. For victims or criminals.

A supremacist majority WANTS minorities to do crimes they can hang them for and counts on prejudices they seed to create an acceptance for their retaliatory crimes as victimhood. We have seen this over and over. There is no fear in bloodlust even though talk of dangers is used to create an aura of threat. Nor do they feel any desperation to avoid loss of life of nameless others on their side beyond their advertizing potential in shaping social prejudices – you need victims for victimhood. It is no coincidence that the second attempt to fell the Babri Masjid succeeded when leaders of the movement killed their own to fuel a frenzy of outraged victimhood. While we still have a modicum of functioning judiciary, fair or not, prejudiced by circumstances or not, it continues to be the best bet of a vulnerable minority.

I do not mean that people who are wronged should shut up and suck it up. I most certainly do not endorse communal domination of any sort.

All I say is that Yakub Memon is dead. I appreciate that he was not killed in secret like Ajmal Kasab or and he and those trying to save his life had the opportunity to fight for it till the end. It is time to take a pause and reorient and seek justice in ways that enrich and empower everyone.

Even if you look at Yakub Memon’s case, there is so much hindsight on what was not done adequately to defend him, that now leads to a perception of him not getting a proper chance. Well, there are many Yakub Memons still in prison. Illiterate, poor people from various castes, classes, religions. People condemned to crimes so horrid that they have no choice but to accept whoever the court forces to help them because even with money no one may take their cases. Perhaps the learnings of this defeat can help them. That would help the process of justice as well, if good legal help were available to those who did not have it.

A robustly defended accused makes for a clearer conscience in whatever his end fate is, leaving no doubt that the is understood and argued fully resulting to a punishment as per law. It is in national interest. It is in the interest of god knows how many who end up serving sentences because they have no idea how to defend themselves.

And it need not be for the death penalty alone. Just yesterday, as I was contemplating Yakub Memon’s case, I found myself preferring the death penalty over a long drawn imprisonment (I know Yakub got both). How many in India serve entire terms in jail before seeing the inside of a court?

I am aware, that this is easy for me to say, not knowing Yakub Memon in any way or having fought to save him or suffered similar or even experiencing first hand what it means to be a Muslim and have a default perception of guilt when accused. All I am saying is that I do care and I respect a battle well and passionately fought and I believe that it is important for everyone that the Supreme Court word remain final – particularly given that it can no longer be changed.

I think the moment of high drama is when emotions cause extreme stands. To save an accused in a horrendous crime and see the end of justice in it as though we aren’t killing innocents daily. To stand outside a jail baying for blood of one who spilled ours, while the ones who planted the bombs got their sentences without a fuss, and they live. A moment of climax focuses everything we feel about a subject on a single outcome.

But sometimes, it is time to step back, breathe and look at the living.

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About the Author

Vidyut
Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

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