A32 INDIA SPECIAL/THE HANGING India Abroad August 7, 2015
As you walk the streets near the Mahim dargah in north-central Mumbai where the Memon family lives, youdon’tseeasingleshopopen. Tension and fear appears to have
gripped residents of the area as they wait for
Yakub Memon’s body to arrive.
“Why is the government doing this tamasha?”
asks one resident of Dargah Gully, Mahim. “The
government could have quietly hanged him like
they did Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab. Why they
are creating tension in the city? Why did
(Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra) Fadnavis
have to announce his execution date? They are
“I feel at least 10,000 people (15,000 people
reportedly did) will turn up for the funeral,” says
another resident. “I hope the police will be able to
control the crowd.”
Asked if he fears violence, he says, “Elders don’t
want violence, but you never know what the
youngsters think? Kab kiska dimag ghum jayen-
ga, guarantee nahi le sakte. (No one knows when
some youngster loses his mind).”
“The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) wants to
score political points,” another resident adds,
“sending a message to its vote bank.”
Hamara Kaun? (Who is ours?)
A question hovering around the minds of many
Muslims in Mahim since Yakub Memon was sentenced to death.
“No political party speaks for Muslims except the
MIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul
Muslimeen and (MIM chief and Hyderabad MP)
Asaduddin Owaisi,” says a resident of Dargah
Owaisi’s speech last week — when he asked why
the assassins of then Punjab chief minister Beant
Singh and the killers of former prime minister
Rajiv Gandhi were pardoned, why Yakub Memon
was singled out? — appears to resonate among
residents who live near the Memons’ home.
As has Owaisi’s rhetorical responses: ‘ Yahan par
toh koi poochney wala nahi hai (No one raises
questions when it comes to Muslims)’ and ‘Phaansi
dena hai toh sab ko phaansi do (If you want to
hang, hang everyone, don’t single out Muslims).’
What will ‘Tiger’ Memon do?
Residents ask what Yakub Memon’s elder brother, the mastermind of the Mumbai blasts who lives in Pakistan, will do
“When rioters burnt his shop in Mahim (during the 1992
riots), Tiger bombed the city. Now his brother has been
hanged, will he keep quiet?” asks one shopkeeper.
‘Work hard and make money’
I meet an acquaintance close to where Javed ‘Chikna’,
another accused in the 1993 blasts case, used to live in
‘Chikna’ coordinated with the men who planted the bombs
in different locations in Mumbai that fateful day.
He is still absconding.
I ask my acquaintance what he does now. He tells me he is
doing well and completing his graduation.
I ask him why young Muslims don’t want to protest Yakub
Memon’s execution. His answer is telling.
“Any young Muslim boy who wants to work hard can get a
job. One can easily earn Rs 12,000 to Rs 18,000 (about $180
to $280) per month. So why not work hard and make money
rather than waste time?”
It was the lure of easy money, by the way, that Javed
‘Chikna’ and ‘ Tiger’ Memon used to draw young Muslim boys
to committing horrific acts of terror.
Mir Baqi and Yakub
Covering the Yakub Memon case and its fallout reminds
me of an Urdu couplet by the poet Muzaffar Razmi.
Ye jabr bhi dekha hai taarikh ki nazron ne
Lamhon ne khata ki thi sadiyon ne saza pai
(History has been witness to this tragedy that the mistakes
of moments have brought sufferings to mankind for millennia.)
In 1528, Mir Baqi, the first Mughal emperor Babar’s general, constructed the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
Mir Baqi would not have imagined that the mosque he was
building would be demolished centuries later on December
6, 1992, which would lead to murderous riots followed by the
serial bomb blasts in Mumbai on March 12, 1993 and Yakub
Memon’s execution on July 30, 2015.
Muzaffar Razmi goes on to write Lamhon ne khata kit hi,
sadiyon ne saza pai (The crime was created by a moment in
time; but its punishment will be borne endlessly).
Mir Baqi’s mosque resulted in Yakub Memon’s death.
Yakub Memon, Mir Baqi
and the dance of death
Syed Firdaus Ashraf/India Abroad walks the streets of Mahim, where
Yakub Memon grew up and lived till the day before the serial blasts in
1993, on the morning he was hanged, and discovers an undercurrent of
unease and restrained anger.
hI TeSh harISInGhanI/reDIFF. CoM Security personnel cordoned off the street leading to the Memon residence. authorities did not allowed yakub's family to carry the body in a procession.